Ilan is an historian and political activist who is currently a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the UK, director of the university's European Centre for Palestine Studies, co-director of the Exeter Centre for Ethno-Political Studies.
Pappe was born in 1954 in Haifa to German-Jewish parents who fled Nazi persecution in the 1930s. At the age of 18, he was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces, serving in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1978, and in 1984 obtained his PhD in history from the University of Oxford, under the guidance of Arab historian Albert Hourani and Roger Owen. His doctoral thesis became his first book, Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. He is now the author of many books on the conflict
Pappe was formerly a leading member of Hadash (The Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), a Jewish and Arab socialist front of organizations that runs for the Israeli parliament. It currently has four members in the 120-seat Knesset) and was a candidate on the party list in the 1996 and 1999 Knesset elections. Ilan is a supporter of the One State Solution to end the conflict with Palestinians. Pappe is one of Israel's 'New Historians' who, since the release of pertinent British and Israeli government documents in the early 1980s, have been rewriting the history of Israel's creation in 1948. On numerous occasions he has called for an international boycott of Israeli academics.
- (with Noam Chomsky) Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War Against the Palestinians
- The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (London and New York: Oneworld, 2006)
- The Modern Middle East (London and New York: Routledge, 2005)
- A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
- (With Jamil Hilal) Parlare Con il Nemico, Narrazioni palestinesi e israeliane a confronto (Milano: Bollati Boringhieri, 2004)
- The Aristocracy: The Husaynis; A Political Biography (Jerusalem: Mossad Byalik, (Hebrew), 2003)
- The Israel-Palestine Question (London and New York: Routledge, 1999; 2006)
- (with M. Maoz) History From Within: Politics and Ideas in Middle East (London and New York: Tauris, 1997)
- (with J. Nevo) Jordan in the Middle East: The Making of a Pivotal State (London: Frank Cass, 1994)
- The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951 (London and New York: I.B. Tauris, 1992; 1994)
- Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1951 (London: St. Antony's College Series, Macmillan Press; New York: St. Martin's Press, 1988)
- What drives Israel?, Essay of the week, Herald Scotland (6 June 2010). [retrieved 23 February 2012]
- Towards a Geography of Peace: Whither Gaza?, The Electronic Intifada (18 June 2007).
- Calling a Spade a Spade: The 1948 Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, article in al-Majdal Magazine (Spring 2006). [retrieved May 17, 2007]
- Back the boycott, The Guardian, (24 May 2005)
- Haj Amin and the Buraq Revolt, Jerusalem Quarterly, Issue 18 (June 2003). [retrieved 23 February 2012]
- The '48 Nakba & The Zionist Quest for its Completion, Between The Lines (October 2002). [retrieved 23 February 2012]
- The Husayni Family Faces New Challenges: Tanzimat, Young Turks, the Europeans and Zionism 1840-1922, Part II, Jerusalem Quarterly, Issue 11-12 (Winter-Spring 2001). [retrieved 23 February 2012]
- Ilan Pappe, The Tantura Case in Israel: The Katz Research and Trial, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 30, No. 3 (Spring 2001), pp. 19-39. [retrieved 23 February 2012]
- Ila Pappé, The Rise and Fall of the Husainis (Part 1), Jerusalem Quarterly, Issue 10 (Autumn 2000)
- Ilan Pappé, Review Essay, Israeli Television's Fiftieth Anniversary, Tekumma Series: A Post-Zionist View, Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer 1998), pp. 99-105, Institute for Palestinian Studies
Exeter - Uk October 2011
I'm just wondering whether you could talk about the origins of the conflict, and why 1948 is such a pivotal date for the region?
All right. The conflict, as we know it, I think, started in the late 19th century, when the Zionist Movement that originated in central...in Eastern Europe, decided that Palestine, for various reasons, is the land in which the Jewish people should implement their right for self-determination.
There were other options, which were considered by the Zionist Movement itself. But eventually they decided for religious reasons mainly, and some historic reasons, to opt for Palestine.
And it's not the very decision to come and settle in Palestine that is the source of the conflict, although that by itself would have been enough to...for a, a conflict to develop between settlers and a native population, as we know from other places around the globe.
But they came with the idea that this was 'their' homeland, and that there were people without land, looking for land without people. And in fact, their recognition or their awareness that there is another people on that land, made them...changing a bit the objective of Zionism.
It was not only to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine, but to create a homeland only for the Jews in Palestine. And that meant also using violent means to take over the land. And I think that's the source of the problem.
Now, until 1948, they didn't have the means, the capacity, or the historical opportunities for implementing that ideal of exclusively Jewish Palestine. In 1948, they decided that this was the right time, because the British who ruled Palestine for 30 years, have left. It was three years after the Holocaust, the world was behind the Jewish National Movement, and the Palestinians looked weak.
And the leaders of the Zionist Movement thought that was an appropriate moment, and they tried to ethnically cleanse Palestine. I think that's how we will put it, in today's terms.
They were partly successful, and that's...in many ways their partial success is also the reason for the continuation of the conflict 'after' 1948.
Why were there so many refugees from 1948, and how many refugees were there?
Well, in absolute terms, we're talking all in all, about small numbers. But in relative terms, of course, these are many people. All in all, Palestine in 1948, had about two million people living in it...1.3 were Palestinians, and about 700,000 were, were Jews.
Now, out of the 1.3 million, almost 800,000 became refugees. So if you look at the relative aspect here, you will say...you will see that more than almost half of Palest-, of the, of the Arab population of Palestine was expelled.
And in fact, it's far more important , in order to answer your question, why so many were expelled, to understand that not the whole of Palestine was taken by the Jewish forces in 1948. Only 18 percent of the land; the rest were the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which would be occupied later, in 1967.
So within the 80 percent, or accurately, 78 percent of Palestine, lived one million Palestinian, and only 160,000 were left in that area. So any Palestinian who lived in what was deemed by the Zionist Movement at the time to be the future Jewish state, was supposed to disappear.
Why did some stay? It's another question we probably will talk about. But as...a tiny minority succeeded in staying, and they became the Arab citizens of Israel, or the Palestinian minority in Israel.
Why were the expulsions necessary, and what were the consequences for the Palestinians?
Yes...in a very curious manner, the tragedy for the Palestinians was that the Zionist Movement wanted to create a democratic society, and an ethnically pure Jewish society at the same time.
So if you want the majority of people, according to democratic principle, to reaffirm your ideological vision...that is, to be a Jewish state...you can not allow the Palestinians to be a majority. In fact, you have to make sure that they are the smallest minority possible.
The demographic balance in 1948, according to any way you divide the map, whether it's according to the United Nations Partition Resolutions of 1947, or according to the boundaries of Israel, as they emerged after the 1948 war, right.
In any one of them, the demographic balance, had all the Palestinians stayed where they were, would have defeated the idea of a Jewish state, if it was supposed to be achieved through a democratic process. So they, they remained democratic by expelling the people.
Can you talk about the concept of Bilad Al-Sham? Explain what that is, and how the region evolved from that into the modern nation states that we know today. That's quite fundamental to hummus.
The geopolitical borders as we have them today, are the result of colonial...colonialist negotiations...colonial rather...the negotiations before and after the First World War. So the kind of states you have today in the Middle East and in the Eastern Mediterranean has a lot to do with these strategies and interests of the colonialist powers around the First World War.
So Britain and France?
Britain and France, yes. In fact, for the area we're talking about, the Levant...the Eastern Mediterranean...one particular Agreement was fundamental; the Sykes-Picot Agreement, in May 1916, which was signed between the two Director-Generals of the two prospective...respective Foreign Office, the French and the British one.
Mark Sykes and Georges Picot were the two Senior Diplomats, and it took them less than an hour to divide the Middle East according to the interests of the colonialist powers; and created the political map that we are familiar with today. And if all that happened, the ideas of geopolitical units was far more fluid, and less...more abstract in a way.
The one particular area which I would say today includes Syria, Lebanon, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan, and parts of Iraq, this particular area was regarded as an area that has its own identity, for very...for historical reasons. If you look at the history of Islam, it started in the Arabian Peninsula.
And then the Islamic Empire had moved from the Peninsula, first to Damascus, and created the second kind of Islamic Empire; the house of Umayya. And then it moved to Baghdad, and it created the Abbasid Empire. And then it fermented until it went again to Istanbul.
Now, it means that the, the, the cohesion of a certain geographical area which was very early on, called the, the, the countries of the north, if you want, which is the literal meaning, but really later was meant to be the Syrian countries, were, were...this, this concept was very deeply enroot-, rooted in, in, in the collective memory of people; and respected, even by the Ottomans in many ways.
Now, what we know from an anthropological and folkloristic point of view, that the dialects of Arabic, for instance, are in that particular area, very similar; whereas if you go out of that boundaries to Egypt or to Iraq, or down south to the Arabian Peninsula, you get a very different dialect; almost a different language.
So there 'are' sort of proofs that people were very closely connected. And politically, in around the time that the colonialist powers were dividing the Middle East according to their interest, 'that' more ancient idea became a pol-...in modern political counter, viewed to the colonialist mapping of the Middle East.
And the idea was that although it was best to create a united Arab world if possible, instead of the disappearing Ottoman Empire, if that's not possible, at least, one should recreate the, the Sham; the, the Greater Syria; a kind of republic or kingdom, dependent on someone's...everybody's political inclination.
And in fact, ironically, it was someone from the Arabian Peninsula, from Mecca, for the Hashemite family, who was the first one to even try and translate this into reality; Faisal, who was the son of the Sharif Hussein, who led the Arab revolt alongside the British and the French, against the Ottomans.
And for a while he was respected by other people around the area, when he put forward the idea around the First World War to create a united Syrian kingdom, if you want...constitutional kingdom, the idea was to create; but this was against the interests of the British and the French, and the Zionist Movement.
So I would say, politically, it's a totally failed idea. Culturally, ethnically, and I would say, even socially, it's still a very valid reality. In other words, when.... I think I'll give you a good example...
When Palestinian citizens in Israel who were cut off from the Arab world since 1948, around the 1990s could for the first time, visit Damascus, they felt very much at home. And when they visited Beirut, they felt the same. They're, they're not allowed to do it any more, and when they 'were' allowed, it was for a very, very short period of time.
So this was the only experience of a very few hundred. But it is this sense of another identity, next to the national identity, that is still there, very valid in the life.
So the modern nation states that we know, are really a very recent thing?
They 'are'. Very artificial and recent thing. In some cases, it...they respected old formations. In more, more than one case, they did not. I mean, take Iraq. The, the, the natural thing to do, which was what the Ottomans did, was to respect the fact that Shiites live in the, in the, in the south, Sunnis live in the centre, and Kurds live in the north.
It was a British idea that you...they should all become one nation. And that, that nation had the war of liberation against the British in a way, who created them.
Can you apply that same sort of thinking to Israel, Palestine area, and Lebanon?
Yes, yes. If you take for instance, the idea that Palestine and the south of Lebanon, or the east of Jordan, are not a natural geographical...geopolitical unit, which is how the Ottomans used to treat it. Then you create artificial boundaries between people; tribes, and sometimes, families.
Palestine was in a way, partitioned twice. It was seeded from the Greater Syria environment. Even though Greater Syria was not a political unit, there was still very strong connections between Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. A very obvious one. Palestine was not part of it. It became part of Europe; part of the Jewish realm.
And then in Palestine itself, certain parts became more 'Judaised' than others. A small part of Palestine was annexed to Jordan; a small part to Egypt. And then in '67, they all were seeded in a way, from the Arab world.
So what you have, is colonialist powers creating geopolitical units in this First World War, that in some cases, begin to have their own life, and people would fight for their freedom from the very European colonialist powers that created them.
Palestine in this respect, was also a creation of, of that division, and Greater Syria was a far more natural entity that was divided by the colonialist powers.
You described the history of Palestine as liking it to a Greek tragedy. Can you talk about that...why you said that?
Yes. My notion of a Greek tragedy is that at the end of the, the play, everybody lies dead on the stage, and the audience claps; had a good time. There is, there is a kind of what we used to call in the Cold War, a kind of a mutual assured destruction mechanism.
That i-is one possibility. It's not the only one. I, I think the tragedy is the, the power that ideologies have in this case, that does not allow a sensible logical solution to emerge.
In Palestine; in Palestine. I-It's not that it's pre-destined to be that way. But the hurdles are very, very high, and, and we...I'm thinking about any kind of problem you have in life; that at least at one early stage of the problem, you analyse it correctly.
It may take time to find a solution. But the analysis is there. You, you know what the problem is all about. For instance, God forbid, if you go to someone who has an terminal illness, and you miss the, the state of the illness, and you just talk about symptoms, the anal-...you're, you're not even half way through confronting the problem.
And I think that's what we have in Palestine. We have from the powers that be, perspective; the wrong analysis. So whatever the solutions they offer, are almost ? in a doministic way are bound to fail, 'cause they don't deal with anything which is really the issue.
And that for me, is a tragedy that...which I hope one day, could be overcome. The moment the...I'm not even talking about the right solution. I'm talking that the right analysis would emerge.
What's the significance of Nakba Day? Can you explain what it is, and why it's so important to the Palestinians?
Yeah...it's interesting that...the, the Nakba Day started in 1988, when the Palestinians inside Israel wanted to commemorate 40 years to the catastrophe of 1948. So it started within the...that particular community, as an attempt to assert their Palestine identity, which was questioned by other Palestinians, and by themselves. They, they had confusion, confusion in their...on that aspect.
And it was a, a kind of an empowering act. And then it was institutionalised first of all, in Israel; that on the 15th May, which is the day when the British Mandate ended...that on 15th May of every year, they would commemorate the Nakba.
Immediately, it put them on a very kind of a collision course with the Israeli states, because the Jewish state and its representatives who dealt with the Palestinian community assumed that they create wrongly; that they created good Arabs, if you want, or different kinds of, of Palestinians.
And I think there's something in the Nakba Day that reminded everyone that these were the people who were there in 1948, and were much part of the tragedy; and in fact, live on the same spots where the terrible things happened.
Then the Palestinians in the occupied territories adopted a...there was a kind of a trade-off; the Palestinian...when the Palestinians in the occupied territories started the first uprising, the First Intifada, in 1987, there was a day of solidarity with them, inside Israel. This was reciprocated by Nakba Day, that inc-...re-included or re-introduced the Palestinians in Israel into the Palestinian story, in the occupied territories.
Later, it was adopted by Palestinians in the refugee camps. And I think the, the main strategy of Palestinians nowadays, is to make sure that this is a day which fights one of the greater successes of the Zionist Movement, which is the fragmentation of the Palestinian people.
That is one day in the year that you can reunite, and you'll have demonstration, wherever the Palestinians are, on the same topic. And that's why we had even demonstration on the Israeli-Syrian border, even at the time of the Syrian problem.
And what does Nakba actually mean? Explain what it means?
Nakba literally in Arabic, means catastrophe. And it usually was [sic] referred to natural catastrophe. But in '48, I think also with the idea of making sure that the world does not only talk about the Jewish Holocaust. They were looking for a strong Arabic term that would convey the, the magnitude of the catastrophe, at least from a Palestinian point of view.
So that's what it means, yeah.
The magnitude of the catastrophe of the creation of Israel?
Or the catastrophe wh-...rather, the catastrophe what happened to the Palestinians, when they lost their land, their houses, their cultural assets; they were dispersed all over the place, lost their unity, and...
And, I think more important than anything else, for Palestinians, the Nakba is not one event; you know, fixed on one date. It's an ongoing catastrophe. People are still being expelled, colonised, killed, by Zionism in Israel, in 2011. So the Nakba for them is a, an, is an...the ongoing catastrophe, if you want, of the Palestinian people.
Some people would say it didn't start in 1948; it started in 1882, when the first Zionist settler colonised Palestine.
You talk a bit about the economic dependence of Palestinians and Israel. There's a co-dependency there, and that by way of hummus, expresses itself really well because most of the people who make the hummus in the Jewish place or the Israeli places are in fact Palestinians. So I'm just wondering what you think about this co-dependency idea? And if you can apply it to hummus, that'd be great.
I'm not sure. It's...you know, co-dependency seems to imply a parity. I don't think there was implied a parity. Even if someone cooks a very good hummus for you, you can do without the hummus, but the guy who does the hummus, can not do without your salary. So I don't think there is...in the one case, it's existential; in the other one, it's just leisure.
And I think that 'that' in many ways, characteristics the Israeli-Palestinian economic relationship. The Israelis could do without the Palestinians. They have other sources of economic viability. It's convenient to have the Palestinians. You don't have to pay them much. You don't have to respect their rights.
So yes...it's interesting; you know, when the Israelis decided they want less and less Palestinians, they brought other people without rights from all around the world. We have one of...in Israel, one of the...in proportional numbers, one of the largest w-workforce from the outside world.
Romanians, Ethiopians, Thai, South-East Asian people; I mean it's just...the numbers are growing every year. And one of the reason [sic] is because they don't 'want' to depend on Palestinians for providing the manual unskilled work.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, really depend on the Israelis to co-exist, as long as the occupation continues. I think that again, if there would have been a different political setup...there are two options; either an independent Palestine state next to Israel, which I don't think is a viable solution any more, but it 'could' have been; and maybe then the Palestinians would have had other economic resources like the Arab world, or Europe, or America...
Or a one state for all, and then the whole question of co-dependence does not exist any more, because it's the individuals who count, not their collective identities.
Did you grow up eating hummus? Tell me about your family, and hummus?
I'm a tahini man, actually. So, the wrong person for this movie; if you ever do a movie on tahini...I really like the tahini more. Yeah, but we grew on, on hummus as well. I grew up in, in Haifa on Mount Carmel, where actually there were very few Palestinians. It was a German Jewish community, and most people were from there...from Germany originally.
But there were...b-because my parents were abroad almost all the time, I was fed by a Palestinian restaurant on the Mount, which was I think, the only one in Haifa at the time, on the Mount; where I...so I was...I grew on the cuisine, which was Palestinian cuisine.
We, we never called it Palestinian. We called it oriental food. And that's how I perceived it, until I knew [makes noise] better. Hummus was definitely part of that cuisine; part of that sort of s-, food manual.
It was only actually when I moved to Jerusalem as a student, after doing my military service, that I became a really...not addicted, but I became very...a hummus eater. It was someth-...and, and now I realised actually that the hummus...we got a very Europeanised hummus in Haifa.
I don't know what they did to it, but it was...they prepared it the way Chinese people would prepare food for [laughs] Westerner people, you know. In, in Jerusalem, in the Old City, but also in the Jewish market, in a place called Rachmo...maybe you, you'll get there eventually...you, y-you suddenly saw the quality of, of the food.
It's actually...I didn't think about it at the time, but actually the two best hummus places were one Jewish and one Palestinian, and one Arab Jewish, if you want, or Mizrahi Jewish.
A-At the time, it, it didn't strike me as important, but I think it 'is'. It encapsulates not just the problem of the Palestinians, in the whole story of hummus in that respect. It encapsulates the story...the tragedy of the Arab Jews; the Jews who came from Arab countries.
And s-so, my life with hummus has sort of, two periods. [stutters] Until I was 21, I was 21, I was fed either by the Europeanised hummus on the Mount Carmel, or the hummus provided in the army, which is even worse. It comes from tinned cans.
And the one that starts when I studied in Jerusalem...I started studying in Jerusalem, where really I had some excellent hummus; but also for me, was important, 'cause going into the Old City, I was exposed to the Palestinian reality in a very different way. And sitting...especially in Abu Shukri's place, but not only in his place...and starting to talking...to talk to people.
I, I think then, then I...in many ways, I became [background noise] an activist, first against the occupation, then against the whole idea of a, of a Zionist Jew state [background noise].
So we've got hummus to blame for that?
A good hummus to blame for it. If it was a bad hummus it was no...
Yes, in, in a way, good hummus; but it's...hummus is something more than just the food to my mind.
Yeah, I was saying that [background noise] hummus is not just the food that is served. A kind of hospitality goes with it, and a kind of a space, an option, I think, for interaction that opens up.
And I needed the human contact; the intimate contact with Palestinians, because if you don't do that in Israel, you...the only way you view the Palestinians is how 99 percent of the Jews in Israel view them, as sort of alien enemies.
And you don't break it unless you, you humanise the, the contact, and individualise it, so to speak. You make it something that is an individual experience. It's hard to [unclear] to be started or triggered with good food.
So hummus can be a trigger for interaction then?
It 'does', as it is a source for friction, as you know. It, it can be a trigger for...it depends; like everything good, it can be badly abused and manipulated by the powers that be. For me, military service is a, is a similar story. Friendship is a great thing.
Youth enthusiasm is, is fantastic. When it is manipulated for the purpose for military service, it's horrible. So when hummus becomes for instance, an attempt by the Israelis to claim that it is theirs, and it becomes part of the...they appropriate hummus, and make it part of their supposedly heritage in the country.
It is a very negative way of trying to exclude once more, the Palestinians from Palestine, or take them out of the Palestine story in a different way. So for me it's difficult. It's very difficult, be-...and especially, when it comes to Arab Jews, because they, for reasons we, we all know, they became more anti-Palestinians than the rest of the Israeli Jews in many ways.
And yet they could have used their joint hummus heritage, if you want, or any joint heritage, to teach something...the Jews who came from Europe...about where they are, who they should be; and instead, they decided to let them have the lead.
In fact, I think the hummus became worse as a result of this [laughs]. They became li-like something...some places, you can't eat the hummus any more in, in Israel, because the Palestinian restaurants try to cater for the kind of hummus which Israeli Jews like.
It's even more pronounced in the case of the knafeh. You know what the knafeh is? If you go to certain places in Nazareth, if you really want a good knafeh, you have to say to them...although you look Jewish, and it's obvious that you are Jewish...that you don't want the Jewish knafeh, which is...there's too much sugar in it. And they do it because that's...there's a difference.
So, there is, there is a story there of a lost heritage, I think, and something which is indicative of the whole experience 'I' had as an individual, which is good, with both being in Palestine, in the Arab world, which most Israelis think is a horrible experience, if this is what I went through; and they don't want to experience it. I mean, that's the big tragedy.
I think...again, I'm not an expert on the topic, but I rely very much on someone called Sami Zubaida, who wrote the history of food in the Middle East.
And like many other things, this food comes from the Ottoman Empire, and it came originally from the Byzantine Empire, with all kinds of influences in a way, from South East Asia and from Europe.
So I don't think there is really one origin, but basically would say that it belongs to the spread of salads or entrees that you had in any banquet in the Arab world, whether it was a very poor abode, so you didn't have much on it; or a very splendid one, as you would have in the Ottoman Empire...a [sic] Ottoman court or before that, in the Caliph's courts.
So my guess, it is as ancient as, as many of the other folkloristic customs in the area.
What do you think of the various claims that it's Palestinian, or it's Israeli, or it's Jewish, or it's Lebanese...?
Well it's definitely not Israeli. It was there before '48, so, so it can not be Israeli. I mean, that's ridiculous. Palestine was there for m-, for more than 2,000 years, so it could be Palestinian, and could be Arab, and could be Arab Jewish. I think it could be all three of things.
It's definitely...far more important is not the Palestine-Israeli divide; the divide is between something which is internal, and something which is external. It's part of the area. It's not part...it's not something that was brought outside from the area. It belongs to the area. It's a natural integral ingredient of their region.
I've heard lots of Israelis say to me, 'There's no such thing as a Palestinian cuisine, and the Palestinians don't exist'.
Yes. The...you, you know, this is the tragedy of Israelis, that this denial of what is obvious, is translated into...or is achieved by actual policies of destruction. I mean, I don't care if people deny something, if it doesn't affect anyone. But this denial is translated into a very aggressive policy towards indigenous people of Palestine.
So whether you deny hummus, or you deny the Palestinian people, the distance between that verbal denial to physical denial is very short. And of all people, the Jewish people should know that. It's the...there are two tragedies in this respect, in this 20th century of Judaism. One was the Holocaust, undoubtedly.
But I think Zionism is the second one. It el-...how, how quickly the Jews, as victims of the worst crime of humanity, became victimisers; implying in some cases, not all, but some cases, similar attitudes and perception of the indigenous people of Palestine. That's...for me, that's very tragic.
And I think that's, that's at the root of the Israeli racist attitude, and the...that denial is part of racism.
Okay, let's try and link all of that to the hummus war, the hummus debate, because people say to me, 'Well there's no Palestine, so there's no Palestinians, so there's no Palestinian food; so how could hummus possibly be Palestinian?...so it must be ours'. There's a kind of secular logic about it.
Even if...when you deny the Palestinian origin of any Arabic food or hummus in that respect, it's part of a much more fundamental denial. It's not just a war about to whom the hummus or the falafel belongs...belong; it, it's far more existential. It's, it's about the right of people to exist.
And it's the right of indigenous native people to exist, which is denied by a settler movement. It's a unique case. I mean, we, we...there, there 'are' other cases in history where certain aspects of the local indigenous culture were appropriated by the settler colonialist movement.
You, you come from Australia. You should be familiar with that. But in most cases, this did not...there was no...maybe because some general...the settler movements were more genocidal, as in the case of Australia and New Zealand, and the United States.
There was less a problem with acknowledging that this was actually belonging to a native popul-...culture, and you appropriate it; that was not the problem, because the native population did not exist a threat any more.
Where the native population still exists and poses a threat, because it was only cleansed and not genocided, then the...you fight even for that side of the story, namely you can not acknowledge easily that hummus is Palestinian, because the struggle still goes on, and the battlefield is the, the dining table, as much as it is the, you know, the, the battlefields on the ground.
So you use tanks, and you use hummus. B-But it's, it's a very important part of the battle in, in a sense. It's a pity in a way, because I think that if you s-...you should...if you can at least start on issues of hummus, you may move your work backwards to the more fundamental issues, you know.
But I think it's impossible to do it in Israel. You can not do what most psychologist [sic]...group psychologists will always recommend...you know, when you have group therapies, they would recommend not talking about the issue at hand, right. You, you start with something light, before you move to the s-...core of things.
Yeah, exactly. So you move with the hummus. You start with the hummus, so that Muslims, American Muslims and Christian Muslims...[scratches face] ah, Christian Americans...could be able to discuss 9/11. And in America, it would work, I'm sure. It started with the hummus, and eventually they would maybe even have some good results, in the way that they deal with the trauma of 9/11.
If you do this in Israel, you can't because people would carry similar weight to the hummus as they would to something which is similar to 9/11. It will explode. They would throw the hummus at each other, before a-a-allowing it to create a better atmosphere.
Now this...I, I, I saw it happening. It can come from both sides. From the Palestinian side, there is so much they can take with these hummus niceties, that eventually would be too much. They would say, 'Okay, now we have these hummus niceties and so on, but we know these Israelis; they are using it in order to avoid anything else'.
In the case of the Israelis, there's nothing they're willing to give up, including the, the rights for the hummus. So it's, it's a very ideological environment we're talking about, in an age where ideology lost its charm in many other places in the world. This is a space where ideology has a lot of loyal sort of soldiers.
And, and, and that's why everything...sport, food, art...becomes ideological, and part of the battle.
Interesting that you say that we were only two days ago, in Beirut, and Fadi Abboud, Minister for Tourism was saying, 'The Israelis have stolen our land, they've stolen our culture; now they're stealing our food, our hummus'.
What I think Palestinians and Arabs recognise, is the totality of the Zionist conquest. And I think Israelis are not aware how little room they left for the indigenous native population for any kind of co-existence.
And that's why you have this amazing phenomenon of... the basic Palestinian demand is for normality; and the basic Israeli demand is to continue to have an exceptional status...an abnormal reality.
And in a normal reality, hummus is hummus. In abnormal reality, it's a weapon. And, and I think that the Lebanese Minister has something in that. I mean it's, it's...you, you...look at it from a power relations point of view. The Israelis have won on all levels.
And now they want to control memory as well, 'and' food, 'and' folklore, because I think they know that as long as it even...i-if those fields remain unconquered, there's still a fight, you know.
The late Edward Said has understood it, when he talked about the fight of a memory; that he says, 'Weak defeated people can still win the, the struggle of a memory; nobody can defeat them on that; and it can help them eventually...'...so he hoped, at least '...also to gain political power back'.
I've heard quite a few people say that 'hummus is ours', 'hummus is Israeli', because it's mentioned in the Bible.
Oh yes. I mean, the interpretations of the Bible can be so liberal, that they even found electricity. I, I, I think that hummus is not mentioned in the Bible. But it's...you can find in the Bible whatever you want, and you, you can...you know, you, you can use the Bible for whatever you want.
I remember once, rescuing a, a Rabbi who headed the Technological Rabbinical Institute [sic] in Jerusalem. It was a rainy day. His, his car got stuck, and I, I took him to Jerusalem. And as, as kind of a gratitude, he gave me a series of 12 books of how Jews can operate in the Sabbath, despite the forbi-...the, the, the, the restriction, any labour [sic] by the Bible.
It included fantastic inventions, and I think saying that the hummus appears in the Bible, is one such invention. I-It's, it's nationalising the Bible. It's using it for a tool, and it's really not about it. It, it's like, there's no mentioning of Palestine in the Quran, as you probably know.
But there is mentioning of the holy place which Muslims believe is Jerusalem, and it doesn't really matter if this, this is Jerusalem or isn't. What matters, is what people believed in, afterwards.
Hummus was never part of any Jewish theology or belief, until Zionism appeared in Palestine. There isn't one Jew in the world who lived in Europe until 1900 who knew what hummus was, or have encountered the word; whereas every Arab in the previous 500 years, knew exactly what hummus was.
When we last spoke, you spoke about Zionism as a zero sum game. Can you explain what you meant by that?
Zionism is a zero sum game for the Palestinians; not for the Jews, but for the Palestinians. When Zionism is a succ-successful endeavour...'if' it will be a successful endeavour, it means a Jewish state over as much of Palestine as possible, with as few Palestinians in it as possible.
There is no room for any accommodation of the native people. In that respect, it's a zero sum game. It's the kind of objectives that both camps had in the Cold War...Cold War, the, the two camps that...you have to destroy the other one, in order to succeed, but you are deterred in that respect.
It's, it's another...this is another way of my saying that in order to get peace and reconciliation, you have to dezionize Israel. That's what it means. And maybe acknowledge that hummus is a Palestinian food.
When we're part of the truce and reconciliation; probably the easy part. It's the difficult part of such...as, as, as we know from South Africa...is the acknowledgement of more serious crimes than appropriating food. But yeah, it will be part of it, I think, yeah.
One of the things that I've really come across is that hummus is a food of exile and refugees.
Yeah, well it, it, it's, it's the food of poor people, to begin with. I mean, if you go to Egypt, you know that even the poorest Egyptian start [sic] the day with a kind of a ful, and a bit of hummus. So it's, it's something which is not very expensive, and relatively easy to get.
So it becomes also the food of the, of the of the refugees. But it depends where the refugees are, isn't it? I mean, if you are a refugee in, in Beirut or, or Damascus, the fact that you eat hummus will not be conspicuous.
But if you do it in Copenhagen, then it would be kind of, part of your politics of identity. So hummus is not part of politics of identity of Palestinian refugees in an Arab world, but it 'is', in the Western world.
But I've encountered a lot of people whose families were from Haifa or Jaffa, and their families were in the hummus business; and they've transported their family business to other areas like East Jerusalem or to Bethlehem. So it 'is' a transportable...
It is also transportable. That's why refugees could go back to it. That, that is a business, yeah, yeah. So it has two aspect it has an aspect as a food commodity, and as a, as a business...as a business.
I think there's another sort of aspect to it which is interesting, that's happened with...to coffee in Palestine and Israel. For many years, hummus and coffee, and olives, were the business of local Palestinian families for centuries.
And then the Israelis created this big, mega food corporations; and among other things, decided to produce horrible, tasteless hummus. And there is a great...a, a very strong connection between these food producers and the supermarket chains in Israel.
And I could notice how slowly, all kinds of traditional Palestinian food like labane, hummus, Palestinian coffee, and olives, disappeared from the shelves, and were replaced by some of the products produced by the Israeli mega kind of corporations, which is a very sad story.
And it's not just the matter of taste. It's, it's affecting the livelihood of people. In some cases, which are a bit better, is happening [sic]...coffee...they would buy the franchise, but allow these people to produce the products. So they come under an Israeli brand, but at least they're the same product.
I'm wondering whether the first Israelis to really consume hummus...and I'm talking about Zionists here...were the chalutzim? And I'm wondering whether you can talk about that, and explain what the chalutzim were, and the fact that they dressed and ate like Arabs...part of their mission was to 'be' like Arabs?
Yeah, there were two early ways of Zionist settlement. One came in 1882, and the other one came in 1905. The ones who came in 1882 were v-very interested in a way, in the local culture, because there were more classical settlers...colon-...settlers or colonialist [sic].
They exploited the local people for working in their farms. And they saw as part of their need, to interact with them. And interaction with the Palestinian community included food, of course. It was a very important part of the ritual of hospitality, and so on.
So the early Zionists...the early, early Zionists, if you want...who mainly saw themselves as colonial kind of, what you will call them, sort of farm owners, I th-, I think, and...
The word 'chalutzim', which is 'pioneers' in, in Hebrew, refers to the second wave of settlements, not the first one. So if you ask me when the first Zionist settlers ate hummus, these are not the chalutzim. Th-These are the, the plantation owners who came in 1882.
And as part of their mission to understand the local people for...in order to exploit them, definitely went through the processes of being invited to eat, as part of the interaction.
The chalutzim were a different kind of people. They came in 1905, after the, the attempt of many of them to take part in the revolution in Russia, which failed. And after...those who didn't live in Russia, came to the conclusion that Eastern Europe was not a safe place, and many of them were socialist and hoped to re-enact or re-invent socialism anyway, in, in Palestine.
Now, m-, the vast majority of these, who were the core group from which Israel grew, didn't want to have any contact with the Palestinians, and didn't dress like them, and didn't eat their food, and were trying very much to create their own gated community, everything, we call it today.
A small part of them believed that in order...not in order to assimilate in the area, or to better understand the Palestinians, but in order to defeat them, they should appropriate some of the Palestinian habits.
For some, maybe it was romantic appropriation. So they would be like, a bit T.E. Lawrence. Most of them would be like the American settlers who would use Indian...Native Indian tactics, in order to kill Native Indians.
Luckily for you, I am not familiar with Australian example. But I'm sure there's something similar there as well.
So I don't think they romanticised that much. It was far more functional, to my mind. Again, in, in some individual cases, it was. So you l-...you, you come and eat hummus, because you want to spy on the village, more than you want to be hospitable, because after all, you think that that village is on the land that you want, either to purchase, or to take over.
This is very different...imagine...I mean th-that's, that's a betrayal of the hummus in a way, if you think about it. Hummus is part of the hospitality, right. You, you, you get the food for someone who comes from the outside, right.
It's...it, it took me a while to understand that actually, most of the visits...not in every case...but most of the visits were re-reconnaissance visits.
Pioneers in, in English...was a group of people who came actually in the second wave of immigration, or the colonisation into Palestine. The first group of settlers were more classical colonialist, and there were plantation owners who exploited the local people, and would have encountered hummus, as part of their need to know something about the people they exploit.
And, and definitely, that included being guests, I suppose, in some of the Palestinian villages around them, and that would include hummus as part of the hospitality.
The more important group is that...what we call, the Second Aliyah...the second wave of immigration, which is the core group from which Israel sprang, where...consisted of people who had very little interest in Arabic, or the Arab culture, or food, and actually created a kind of a gated community.
Some of them were dressed like Arabs, and were interested in Arab ways of eating and living, mainly in order to defeat the Arabs. And, and it's very much like...as I mentioned before...like American settlers, or settlers in the United States appropriating Native American Indian ways in order actually to bring the genocide of the Indians to a successful completion.
Now, in this respect, hummus is usually served...there were no restaurants as such, to begin with, at that period...so hummus is served in private homes. So when, when you are a Jew who came from Europe, and you're invited to a village, you may get hummus as part of that process of visit.
But I, I see it as an abuse or a betrayal of the hummus, because most of these visits...not every case, but in most of these visits...were done as part of a spy process...reconnaissance, because most of these places were deemed by the Zionist settlers as theirs.
They didn't have the opportunity or the means to take them over in 1905 and 1906. But they definitely saw the people living there as usurpers, of aliens, who had no right to be there.
And, so the hospitality of the hummus was, was abused, to my mind, by the people who came as guests, or treated as guests, which is in a way, in a nutshell, the whole story of Zionism in Palestine.
The Zionists were poor Jews from Europe, who were well received by the Palestinians, were hosted, taught how to cultivate the land, and then these very poor guests, all the time, contemplated how to take over the house.
And the food?
'And' the food. And everything...the memory, the, the place. It's, it's a crude picture of course. There are more innuendos in the big historical picture. But in essence, this is, this is this.
I mean, your own family, there must have been members who were lost in the Holocaust?
After the horrors of the Holocaust, and the history of anti-Semitism in Europe, isn't it fair to say perhaps, that Jewish people did deserve a homeland?
It 'is' fair to say the Jews deserved a homeland, even before what happened in the Holocaust. People should have the right to self-determination, if this is what they seek. The question is, at what price? If the price of my self-determination is your destruction, then it's not justified.
So having a homeland, yes. But having in a homeland, the...in a formula which says, they have to destroy the Palestinians, or it has to be at the expense of the Palestinians, defeats the right, I think, of self-determination.
In fact, after the Holocaust, if I would bring the Holocaust into the equation, I would say, in fact, in...since this right was con-...recognised by the international community as a kind of a redemption for the Holocaust, then even more so, it cannot be done, as part of victimising someone else.
Maybe in any other case, it would be more tolerated. Y-You know, there's, there's a big moral difference b-, from the way Golda Meir and I...if I may be so bold as putting us in the same pedestal...viewed what the Holocaust was all about.
According to her, the Holocaust allowed the Jews to do whatever they wanted in Palestine. To m-...for me, the Holocaust should have inhibited the Jews more than any other people, in what they did to others.
And that's...she won the day. Most Israeli Jews think like her. The minority think like me. But that's a world...we are a world apart, and I have very little in common with the Golda Meirs of this world. And I have a lot of common [sic] with the...my Palestinian friends, and...because of that.
Did Golda Meir eat her hummus?
I doubt that she liked Eastern European food. I don't think she, she ate hummus. She was sup-supposed to be quite a good cook, when she, she prepared dinner for the small group of people with whom she consulted about the, the future policy.
In fact, Israel could have been...and 'is', in Tel Aviv...in some areas it, it 'is' even indicative of what it could be...a haven for, you know, sort of, cosmopolitical cuisine, where you have 'all' kinds of food from different parts of the world. After all, Jews immigrated from more than 100 countries. So you have it there.
But nothing is even mundane in, in Israel. I mean, that's, that's my problem with the people who live in Tel Aviv. They tend to think that they succeed and then dissociating themself. I mean, they will tell you, hummus here, is really just food, not an ideological issue, because they s-...the occupation, or even the Palestinians in Jaffa, who live next door, are not part of their reality.
Now it's true that...it's true in...of other places in the world. They're not the only oblivious Western to poverty, and what Western people are doing to other people. So in this, they're not unique. But they're unique in their righteousness...that if they have to defend it, the-then they bring out the Holocaust, and the moral issue, and the chosen people, and so on.
So you can't win. You can't win. It's very difficult. No.
Are you aware that there's a boycott movement in America, to boycott Israeli made hummus being sold in the American supermarkets?
Yes, I am.
What do you think about that? What do you think about calls to boycott hummus in American supermarkets, because it's Israeli-made hummus?
I know you're very sensitive about hummus. I don't...for me, a boycott is boycott. If it, if it boycott goat cheese, it's, it's similar in, in this respect. So I, I'm, I...for me, the principle is important here, not the particular products which are being boycotted.
I see this as part of a very justified, for me, very understandable movement of civil society, of the civil society in the West, and the United States, who have very few means nowadays to express their anger and frustration with the continued oppression of the Palestinians.
Now, I think people choose whatever they have handy, next door. I know of one woman who goes around British supermarkets, and s-squeezes all the Israeli feta cheese. I call it intifeta...like indifada, there's an intifeta. She d-...and...so the people will not buy it.
Now, if I were more sensitive about feta cheese, I would have asked her to leave at least, the feta cheese alone. But it doesn't matter. She feels that this is her way...she's 80 years old...she feels it's 'her' way of contributing to the struggle.
So I think it's less a Palestinian issue, like the one that you've heard from the Minister in Lebanon. It's f-...the hummus is more incidental here, than essential. The essential thing is, Israeli products represent the oppression. And this is not a new idea, you know.
The Apartheid...anti-Apartheid movement, and...sorry, the solidarity was the ANC Movement, started in Europe by boycotting food from South Africa. And that's where the idea was taken from. So I think it's...any Israeli product is symbolic representation in my supermarket, of the oppressive state of Israel.
So I have no moral qualms with that. Is it effective? I'm not sure. I don't...I think the world's economy today is far more complicated, and it doesn't work that way. I think cultural boycott is far more effective in this respect. I mean, Israeli...official Israeli representatives of culture or academia should know that they are expected to take a far more moral issue on the oppression next door.
Food involves workers and labour, and I'm, I'm, I'm less sure about that.
I tell you one thing. They're doing great service for the American consumer, not that they would know the difference. This is the worst kind of hummus you can eat in America. So maybe they also care about the quality of hummus.
But I doubt it. I mean the, the...I don't think Americans can tell the difference between a good hummus and a bad hummus. It's another aspect I always noted in Abu Shukri. I remember my anger, when for the first time, I encountered American Jewish tourists, standing with me in a queue.
And I knew they couldn't tell the difference between a Jewish...ah, hummus from a can, and Abu Shukri's hummus. And yet they were delaying my encounter with the hummus.
So...but putting that aside, I, I, agree. I agree. I mean it's part of the...but it's, it's very important to note that it comes from a different...it's not a Palestinian act against the appropriation of hummus. But maybe yes, and maybe not. I mean, the interesting thing about a boycott, or what we call a BDS movement, a Boycott Divestment and Sanction Movement in Europe, is that it, it's made up of very interesting people.
You have veteran human rights activists, mainly Jews, who fought against Apartheid, Vietnam and so on. You have second and third generation of Arab and Muslim in these societies. And maybe the Palestinians among them have something very special when they do it to hummus.
It's quite possible that they are also aware that there is something f-...it's not just an Israeli food product. It's the...a food product like falafel that is at the centre of a political struggle. So it's also possible, yeah?
I want a talk a little bit about the Second World War, and I'm interested to know whether Tel Aviv was really prevented from being invaded by the Nazis and Rommel by the British Forces, 'cause my father was part of that group of soldiers fighting Rommel in the Western Desert.
Part of the Nazi...we know now that pa-part of the Nazi master plan was, after occupying North Africa, was to cross the Sinai Desert into Palestine. And eventually, reunite with German forces that would occupy the Balkan...and will have a special treaty with Turkey, or occupy Turkey, dependant on Turkish position on this.
So yes, I think everybody...I don't think it's particularly Tel Aviv...I think everyone who lived in Palestine was saved from a Nazi occupation. Now, it is absolutely true that Jews would have felt far worse than anyone else...and not because they were Zionists...because they were Jews...had the Nazis occupied Palestine.
And the British were not defending the Tel Aviv city, or settlement . They, they were defending their Arab possessions. The oil fields of Iraq, the Suez Canal in, in Egypt, the strategic connection to India.
So, yes...the interesting thing of course, is, how did the Jews in Palestine take it, 'cause they thought that they were...be able in a way to do to the Nazis, or fight the Nazis in a way that was impossible for Jews in Europe.
So they, they had a secret program. I think it was called Masada...I wouldn't be surprised...to be on the mountains in, in Galilee and in Haifa, in strongholds, and fight the Nazis, should the occupation of Palestinian be successful.
So Palestine 'was' actually saved by the British?
Oh, they were. It was. But moreover, more than anything else, one should understand, up to the Holocaust, oh, maybe up to 1937 at least, the Zionist settlement would have not survived, had not the British supported it.
True, that after '37, it already had the capacity to, to exist. But even then, it needed the British to defend it, definitely, in the Second World War, yeah.
Even though I'm not either Jewish or Arab, I can't help feeling as a citizen of the world...and on the other side of the world too...that I'm connected to this conflict. I'm wondering whether we are all in a way, connected to this intractable Arab/Israeli conflict, and whether you have an attitude about that?
Yeah, I, I, I think it comes on two levels. One level is religious, and the other one is humanist in many ways. And they have to be both there, because you have to include both groups to make something with such a global reach.
On the religious level, it is really a place which is holy to three rel-, monotheistic religions. It is in many ways, the cradle of Monotheism. And I think there's something tragic about it, because, you know, Judaism, far more than Christianity and Islam, began as a holistic religion.
It was really comprehensive. You, you...it, it was inclusive. And then because it s-started struggling with other religions that came after it, it became more seclusive and exclusionist, in a way Christianity took the, the mantle and tried to be comprehensive, and failed.
And, and, and, and Islam took over and said, 'Oh we, we are the ones, 'cause it's...we, we are the ones who will make it easy for anyone to convert, and we're much more tolerant towards other religions'. But even then, it didn't, it didn't hold, and fragmentation was the name of the game, not, not unity.
So I think, on the religious level, there is a great m-, kind of irrational almost...if you want...belief that on Palestine, is the example that would prove the validity or invalidity of the deepest kind of religious attitude.
So it's not just the fact that Jesus walked there, or Moses was there, or Muhammad took off to the sky from there. It's not just the-these, these...it, it's far more the, th-the fact that it represented the Jerusalem of above, you know, and the Jerusalem from below, which exists in all three religions...this idea of an idealistic society, and what really happens.
So I think on a religious level, v-...there's no other place in the world that could have that kind of history, and that kind of significance. So, so as religious people, we are drawn to it from that respective. But then, of course, the world is more secular these days, and, and most people, maybe or not...and also quite a lot of people will not be moved by a religious impasse.
And then I think it has to do with the double...the whole complication relationship between the West and the rest of the world. Palestine and Israel is the example for the double standards of the West.
It is, everything...everything that is happening there, has a different form elsewhere...I'll give you just one example...and I think that draws us, because it shows us there's something that affects us all.
You, you can invade Iraq and Afghanistan according to United Nations. The decision to even invade Iraq without United Nations is...you can take hundred of decisions on Israel and Palestine to United Nations and it wouldn't mean anything. They wouldn't mean anything.
Now, Western people, when they come to the United Nation, don't take the body seriously. They only like to manipulate it when they have a Western project at hand...invading Syria...ah, Libya, or Iraq, or Afghanistan.
I think people in the West don't realise that the new nations...whether they were born out of a colonialist, you know, construction, or they were always there, and just fought for liberation...take very seriously the, the respect that they, that they gain by being on an international arena.
And, and if there is a mockery in the United Nation, is the whole story of Israel and Palestine. Nothing is...nothing plays according to the rule, when it comes to Israel and Palestine.
And, and I think that, that makes it a kind of a, a litmus paper for the relationship between the West and the rest of the world, which is two-thirds of the world, where they can really be rebuilt on the more egalitarian basis.
That you can reb-...it's been built on economic relationship, we know. We don't need moral [sic] and ethics for that. And that politically, you can build according to power relations.
But I think most people would like...either, whether they're religious or secular...would like something more moral and ethical in their life. And there's something about this question that makes you feel that the secret is almost there, you know.
Do you think that hummus is something that can actually bring people together? And can you imagine one day that Israelis, and Lebanese, and Palestinians, will sit at the one table and wipe from the same plate? Wiping is very important.
It is. I, I think it's...yeah, I think...I, I'll tell you why hummus is such...it could be other things as well, but hummus could be one of them...it's, it's a matter...it's...
Two processes will take place for that beautiful scenario of yours, to, to be a reality. One is for the Israelis to acknowledge that they are part of the Arab World, which they don't.
You know, they have this wet dream that there will be an earthquake that would seethe Israel, and append it to Italy hopefully, and see themselves as Europeans, and they regard everything Arab as hostile, and negative, and so on.
So I think that...that's why they Europeanised the hummus, so they eat it in a way that reminds them of European food, not Arabic food. And I think...that, that one process would be an Israeli recognition that they have forcefully entered the Middle East. But they're no part of it.
And the second process, is for the Arab world in general, and the Palestinians in particular, to accept them as part of the Middle East. And there's something in this hummus...it's like the peace pipe...that could be a genuine ceremony of, of reconciliation.
If you want, you should compare it to the false ceremony of peace that took place on the White House lawn. The White House lawn and, and histeronics, they had nothing to do with the place [background noise]. You can't have a genuine peace and reconciliation on the White House lawn [background noise].
You can't. You can't even have hummus there, as part of that ceremony. You have to have it there. And as you say, you have to sit down, and wipe it. You cannot eat it in the White House dining room with, you know, porcelain and s-silver, silver [makes noise] forks and, and, and spoons and so on.
So I think, yeah, there's something, there's something in it. And I think it will happen. It will happen. Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether it will happen after a catastrophe or not. I'm not sure about that, 'cause sometimes peoples [sic] don't change unless they're being hit on the head with a powerful tool.
But yeah, it can happen.
So many Israelis in Tel Aviv said to me, 'We know that peace will come, when we can drive to Damascus, and we can sit in the marketplace and taste the hummus'.
Yeah. I would say to them that peace will come if they will drive to Damascus and on the way to the city, they will see an empty refugee camp, because all the refugees came back to Israel. Only then, that peace will come. And they would eat hummus with the Palestinians who were expelled from Jaffa. Then you'll have peace.
If they will drive to Damascus, just because the Syrian ruler allowed them to drive to Damascus...which is their dream...that would mean very little. We had it, you know, with Egypt and Jordan. It's not a meaningful reconciliation.
What's the personal cost of the conflict for you? How has it affected you personally, and your family?
Yeah, it affected me in a very low price compared to people who are political prisoners, who are refugees. It...well it affected me by...I cannot work in Israel, and that's one effect. I cannot publish in Israel, so I don't have a dialogue. My family lives there, and I'm working here. So I have to commute. But these are really very soft sacrifices.
I think most than anything else, it's...it affected me in a way that may-maybe not many people...is, is to continue s-, not to give up the struggle, 'cause I could easily sort of taken my whole family out, and forget about the place, or tell the people who don't want to have a dialogue, 'Okay, who cares. You don't want to have a dialogue'.
It's to continue with this kind of ungrateful laughs...g-, it's, it's, it's, it's [unclear] more than anything else. But it doesn't affect you in a bad way, I think. It affects you in a good way. It makes you life [sic] with a purpose, with a mission, which is good, I think, for, for, for human being to be with.
And the small sacrifices are not that important. I mean, there was a moment when I was terrified, when there was a real threat to me and my family. And then I wait...I had to decide whether the personal sacrifices would be worth it. It's a life of people I love.
And then I left. But otherwise, I think [background noise] there are really people who pay a higher price...much ...
What about from your time in the army? Did you experience conflict? Did you lose friends in war, or fighting?
I did. I did lose friends also, in terrorist actions. My niece and her husband were both assassinated. Close friends died. But, you know, since I was a student in Jerusalem, I had almost an equal number of Palestinian Jewish friends, and I lost a lot of Palestinian friends as well.
So I, I have an unfortunate balance...kind of a, an account of loss which is very well balanced unfortunately, between the two sides.