A Zion­ist Among Palestinians

Hil­lel Bardin
  • Review
By – June 21, 2012

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. 

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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