Controversial historian to quit Israel for UK
Ilan Pappe, a senior lecturer in the University of Haifa’s Department of Political Science, says he is moving to the UK because it is “increasingly difficult to live in Israel” with his “unwelcome views and convictions.”
In an interview in The Peninsula, Qatar’s leading English-language daily, during a visit last week to Doha as a guest of the Qatar Foundation, Pappe said: “I was boycotted in my university and there had been attempts to expel me from my job. I am getting threatening calls from people every day. I am not being viewed as a threat to the Israeli society but my people think that I am either insane or my views are irrelevant. Many Israelis also believe that I am working as a mercenary for the Arabs.”
Pappe is to join the History Department at Exeter University, in southwest England. He is active in anti-Israel academic boycott efforts.
Referred to in the Peninsula article as “the only Jewish academic in Israel who is vehemently critical of Zionism,” Pappe said the only solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the creation of a single state, shared by Jews, Arabs and others. He said that two independent states cannot coexist in “the land of Palestine.”
He also said there was “no immediate solution to the crisis and only international pressure can force Israel to end the occupation and the continuing atrocities against the Palestinians.”
“Over the past six years, the Israeli government has become more oppressive, thanks to the strong support from the Bush administration. They now feel that they can do anything they want,” he said.
The interviewer in Qatar admitted to being “a bit surprised” by Pappe’s support for Hamas.
“A bit surprisingly,” the paper wrote, Pappe said: “I support Hamas in its resistance against the Israeli occupation, though I disagree with their political ideology. I am for separating state from religion.”
Pappe also questioned Israeli democracy: “Any state that perpetrates occupation cannot be called a democratic state,” he said, adding that Israeli democracy was meant “only for Jews” and there is “no space for other communities.”
The interview then looks at what has shaped Pappe’s opinions: “Pappe’s transformation from a ‘typical Jew’ to a strong critic of Zionism started in the 1980s while studying in the UK,” it wrote.
“I reexamined the events of 1948, which changed my perceptions, and I realized how the Israeli state was formed at the expense of the Palestinians. I don’t subscribe to the view that a community which has a claim to a land that goes back thousands of years had the right to occupy it by dispossessing indigenous communities,” Pappe said.
Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “After taking full advantage of all the freedoms accorded to him in Israel, a country he has so shamelessly attacked, Pappe has decided to set up shop here. Whilst this provides the opportunity for academics here to challenge him on his revisionist agenda, the uncomfortable fact is that in the lecture theaters and seminar rooms at Exeter, many impressionable young minds will be exposed to his partial and biased views.”
Mitch Simmons, campaign director of the Union of Jewish Students, said: “We not angry or frustrated that he’s coming to the UK. What is of concern is that he may use his position to vocalize support for the boycott of Israeli academics.”