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Remembering Ilan Halevi: 100% Jewish, 100% Palestinian

Ilan Halevi

Earlier this month, Ilan Halevi died in Paris at the age of 69. Halevi described himself as “100% Jewish, 100% Palestinian,” and had devoted himself to the Palestinian struggle. As an immensely talented writer, negotiator and diplomat, he was instrumental in gaining international recognition for the plight of the Palestinian people:

Fatah pays tribute to Ilan Halevi – an Israeli Jew who ‘defected’ to the PLO

The Fatah movement of Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian premier, is planning a memorial for Ilan Halevi, an Israeli Jew who rose high in the Palestine Liberation Organisation. Palestinians paid tribute after the official PLO news agency, Wafa, confirmed that Mr Halevi had died in Paris on Wednesday aged 69.

“We will be holding a gathering for people from all over Palestine and also for Israelis who might want to come,” said Abdullah Abdullah, Fatah’s deputy commissioner for international affairs. Mr Abbas expressed his sorrow at Mr Halevi’s death.

Mr Halevi was born to a Jewish family in France in 1942, the son of a Yemenite Jew who had emigrated to Jerusalem at the turn of the 20th century. At 22, he moved to Israel because, he later recalled, he had realised during a visit to Algeria the resonance of the Palestinian issue among Arabs. “I wanted to learn the Israeli reality,” he told an interviewer many years later.

After the 1967 war, in which Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Mr Halevi became active in Matzpen, a far-left group that sought not only to end that occupation but to overturn the Zionist ideology upon which Israel had been established. According to Matzpen, Zionism was a form of colonialist oppression.

In Mr Abdullah’s view a turning point in attracting Mr Halevi to the Palestinian side came in 1968 when Fatah declared it favoured a secular democratic state in Palestine, without discrimination based on residents’ religion or creed. Mr Halevi was later to identify himself as “one hundred per cent a Jew and one hundred per cent Palestinian”.

In the mid-1970s he joined Fatah and later became a diplomat for the PLO based in Paris. After the 1993 Oslo Accords he moved to Ramallah in the West Bank, where he held a senior role in the nascent foreign ministry of the Palestinian Authority.

Uri Avnery, a veteran Israeli peace activist, believes Mr Halevi was disillusioned because of discrimination against Sephardic, or Middle Eastern, Jews by Israel’s European Jewish establishment. “He had the courage of his convictions and thought the Palestinians were right in their conflict with the Israelis and that he must join them, so he became Palestinian.”

News of his death has been scant in the US, where coverage strongly favors Israel, and where “Jew”and “Palestinian” are widely thought of as mutually exclusive identities. 100% Jewish, 100% Palestinian, and 100% devoted to the cause of peace and justice, Ilan Halevi will be missed.

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  • Tanveer Khan

    Thank you also Ilisha. I shall be reading it now. 😛

  • Tanveer Khan

    Aha! Thank you Emir JSB. Holidays are coming tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll have time to visit the library. 😉

  • Seeker

    Found this article on the great man :

    “Ilan devoted his entire life to the struggle, often at the expense of his family and always to the detriment of his health, which he allowed to deteriorate on the altar of his 100 percent commitment.”
    I think that statement speaks volumes of his noble character.
    Very ironic that there are few to mourn him. And just because he did not stand by injustice.

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Thanks, Ilisha. It’s an interesting piece.

    One bit struck me as a bit of an unofficial guideline to distinguish loons from legitimate observers or critics of Islam or any religion: “while criticism of religion in general and of one’s own in particular, is indeed perfectly legitimate, the criticism levelled at one religion by the followers of another should be non-inflammatory.”

  • Just_Stopping_By

    Tanveer: Your Emir has graced you with the results of a Google search. Please let me know if this boon answers your query:

    “Items can be requested by visiting any Derbyshire library …. A request charge of 80p (50p concessionary) is charged for books and audio books. If we do not have the item in stock it can still be requested; a further charge of £1 will apply if we borrow the item from another library in the UK or abroad. Children receive free requests up to the age of 18.”

  • Iman

    He could have been a sayanim .

  • mindy1

    RIP 🙁

  • Tanveer Khan

    Where will I get the money to buy his books? I doubt my school or town library will have his books.

  • Jon Diamond

    He’s written many books. Why hear what anyone else has to say about him when you can use direct sources?

  • Tanveer Khan

    Well I can find hardly anything on Mr Halevi on google -_-

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