A Zionist Among Palestinians
Indiana University Press
A Zionist Among Palestinians is a memoir about the dialogues and activities Hillel Bardin organized between small groups of Israeli Jews and Palestinians in West Bank villages, towns, and refugee camps, beginning when he was a reservist in the Israeli army and continuing over the next two decades.
The people in this book, Jews and Arabs, met together, had coffee together, were guests in each other’s homes, and even participated in family and holiday celebrations together. The essence of the book is that a handful of people from each side can conduct a dialogue and actually find mutual interests, but that the leaders and the masses on both sides were displeased by their normalcy and natural interaction and often went to great lengths to prevent the meetings and harass the participants.
The participants themselves were not politicians. For the most part they were academics, teachers, and business people. On the Israeli side many were immigrants from the United States. On the Palestinian side many owned their own businesses.
After spending twenty years working on these dialogues, and despite the lack of progress that has been made, Bardin is still very hopeful. He is convinced that a real peace could have been established a long time ago. He believes that most people on both sides do not realize how much the other side wants to stop the violence. He writes that the vocal, violent, few do not represent the masses.
A Zionist Among Palestinians is a testimony to the effort to bring about change, to educate Palestinians and Israelis about one another, and to touch them one at a time.
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