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A Zionist among Palestinians

Hillel Bardin. Foreword by Mubarak Awad and Edward (Edy) Kaufman

Publication Year: 2012

A Zionist among Palestinians offers the perspective of an ordinary Israeli citizen who became concerned about the Israeli military's treatment of Palestinians and was moved to work for peace. Hillel Bardin, a confirmed Zionist, was a reservist in the Israeli army during the first intifada when he met Palestinians arrested by his unit. He learned that they supported peace with Israel and the then-taboo proposal for a two-state solution, and that they understood the intifada as a struggle to achieve these goals. Bardin began to organize dialogues between Arabs and Israelis in West Bank villages, towns, and refugee camps. In 1988, he was jailed for meeting with Palestinians while on active duty in Ramallah. Over the next two decades, he participated in a variety of peace organizations and actions, from arranging for Israelis to visit Palestinian communities and homes, to the joint jogging group "Runners for Peace," to marches, political organizing, and demonstrations supporting peace, security, and freedom. In this very personal account, Bardin tries to come to grips with the conflict in a way that takes account of both Israeli-Zionist and Palestinian aims.

Published by: Indiana University Press

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pp. ix-xvii

The timing of this publication is particularly important. The wave of nonviolent struggle in the Middle East and northern Africa for democracy, human rights, and dignity has already resulted in regime change in a few . . .

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pp. xix-xxv

This book relates the story of my unusual experiences as an Israeli Zionist among Palestinians, especially during the First Intifada (the Palestinian mass uprising that began in December 1987). Although it is written from a . . .

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1 Jericho I: Introduction to the Intifada

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pp. 1-7

Wajiha (pronounced wa-JEE-ha) was in her twenties and still unmarried. Her impatient parents could wait no longer, so they forced her into an arranged marriage with a cousin from Jordan. But after the wedding Wajiha . . .

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2 Jericho II: The Dialogues

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pp. 9-15

I finished my reserve duty a day before the rest of the unit, as I had a day’s leave coming to me. I found out Sa’ed’s address from our office, and went to find him. Unfortunately, the only pants I had that were not olive drab . . .

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3 Jericho III: The Black Scorpion

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pp. 17-20

Before our second dialogue, Yusra called me to say that her sister Wajiha was still in the Moscobiyye, the Russian Compound jail in Jerusalem. The men held in Jericho had all been released, but no one seemed to be paying . . .

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4 Sur Bahir: The Forest

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pp. 23-35

Jericho was my first experience with the intifada, but it was not my first contact with Palestinians. Like most Israelis, I avoided Arab areas, and I even had a rule that whenever I would cross the Green Line (i.e., enter the . . .

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5 Obeidiyah: Water in the Desert

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pp. 37-41

While we were still working on Sur Bahir, and before my reserve duty in Jericho, Sarah invited me to join her and some members of the Citizens Rights Movement (CRM, or Ratz in Hebrew) to meet Palestinians from . . .

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6 Beit Sahour I: Intense, Long-Lasting Dialogue

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pp. 43-46

When Sa’ed and Yusra told me in 1988 that we’d have to discontinue the dialogues in Jericho, they both stressed the importance of the dialogues and encouraged me to find other communities with which we could carry . . .

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7 Ramallah I: A Soldier's Attempt to Promote Nonviolence

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pp. 49-71

Several weeks after my unit finished our reserve duty in Jericho, we received our next call-up notice, for three weeks in Ramallah in August 1988. As I participated in the Jericho dialogues, I came to realize that . . .

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8 Ramallah II and Prison

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pp. 73-77

The day after that phone call, I was back in Ramallah. I went out on a foot patrol, but Shammai came by and picked me up in his jeep. He said that we had to go to army headquarters. The company commander and . . .

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9 Beit Sahour II: From Dialogue to Action

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pp. 79-90

After prison it was good to get back to the dialogues with our group from Beit Sahour. The first few discussions were at Ghassan’s house in the evening. Across from his house was a driveway that led into an inner court, . . .

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10 Beit Sahour III: The Sleepover and the Prayer for Peace

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pp. 93-103

Our group (which was still unnamed) was one of the only peace organizations sponsoring joint Israeli-Palestinian activities at that time, and possibly the only one that did not have an anti-Israeli character. Peace . . .

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11 Beit Sahour IV: Out from the Underground

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pp. 105-108

Veronika and Judith went to the desert prison at Ketziot to serve as character witnesses for Ghassan and Salaam, who were imprisoned administratively. This meant that they had been confined without being charged or . . .

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12 Jabel Mukabber

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pp. 111-117

Several days after I was released from prison in 1988, I received a phone call at home from an Israeli whom I didn’t know. He told me he was visiting a Palestinian friend who wanted to talk to me. He then put his friend, . . .

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13 Runners for Peace

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pp. 119-133

As a boy I had not participated in sports. In the 1970s, jogging had become a popular adult exercise. One evening on television, the chief of staff of the army, General Raphael Eitan, called on all reserve soldiers to improve . . .

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14 Dehaisheh and the Settlers

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pp. 135-147

The Dehaisheh refugee camp had a reputation during the First Intifada for being the most active and dangerous Palestinian location in the Jerusalem area. It was situated right on the main Bethlehem-Hebron road, . . .

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15 Bethlehem, Wadi Fukin, Nahalin, and Husan

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pp. 149-155

In the initial years of the First Intifada, we had many dialogue groups working in parallel, more than the reader would have patience to follow. In Ramallah, a large and important Palestinian city north of Jerusalem, . . .

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16 Nablus (Shechem) I: A Military Alliance

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pp. 157-169

One of the active Jews in our dialogues was Daniel Rohrlich, an American who held a Ph.D. in physics and was working in Israel on a postdoctoral fellowship. An Orthodox Jew, he later immigrated to Israel and married . . .

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17 Nablus (Shechem) II: Helping to Advance the Peace Process

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pp. 171-187

We continued our dialogues in Nablus, but it was a long time before we were ready to coordinate a large action again. In the meantime, with Ari refusing to work with me, I managed to get another officer, Major Elise . . .

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18 Jerusalem Municipal Elections and Meeting Arafat in Tunis

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pp. 189-199

I was always searching for a way in which Palestinians could work alongside Israelis to exhibit their good intentions. While demonstrations were illegal in the West Bank, they were legal in Jerusalem, a city that follows . . .

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19 Jericho IV: The Tourist Board

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pp. 201-203

The Oslo Accords meant that the kind of activities I believed in—joint activities that would influence public opinion by giving each people a new way of looking at the other—would be easier, since they would no . . .

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20 Jerusalem Information Center

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pp. 205-208

Sarah Kaminker and Daoud Kuttab set up a nongovernmental organization called the Jerusalem Information Center; it would make information available about the situation in East Jerusalem. My role in this center was . . .

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21 Ibrahim and Isma'il

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pp. 211-217

In 1999 I studied Arabic with Noha, a private teacher from the Beit Hanina village in Jerusalem. Very well educated, she was from an elite family in Jerusalem. Noha also had opened a shop selling high-quality Arabic . . .

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22 Olive Trees and the Wall

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pp. 219-226

At the end of September 2000, after the failure of the Camp David peace summit and after Ariel Sharon’s visit to the Temple Mount/Haram a-Sharif (on 28 September 2000), the armed, bloody Second (or Al-Aqsa) Intifada . . .

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23 From Dialogue to Strategic Community Activation: Some Reflections on Technique

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pp. 229-234

My thinking regarding Israeli-Palestinian dialogue went through several stages. At first I felt that a single positive experience, like that of Jericho, was a sufficient goal. I believed that such actions would let Israelis . . .

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Conclusion: Is There Hope?

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pp. 237-240

My years of intense activity with Palestinians taught me several things that many of my fellow Israelis seem to have missed.
First and foremost, I am convinced that the Palestinians were ready to make peace with us long before we suspected it. We Israelis grew up with

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pp. 241-242

This book would never have been written but for the enthusiastic encouragement of my friend Professor Michael Zuckerman. I e-mailed Mike the first chapter I wrote, and got a positive response. I then e-mailed him each . . .


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pp. 243-244

E-ISBN-13: 9780253002235
E-ISBN-10: 0253002230
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253002112

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 14 b&w illus., 2 maps
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Peace-building -- Israel.
  • Palestinian Arabs -- Civil rights.
  • Conflict management -- Israel.
  • Arab-Israeli conflict -- Social aspects.
  • Arab-Israeli conflict -- 1993- -- Peace.
  • Nonviolence.
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