Bob believes in a one state solution, a Jewish state in which Palestinians can also live (if they accept it). But he is a bit vague as to what their rights will be, or how they will participate in it. He reiterates the need for peace and concedes that Palestinian human rights are infringed by constant administrative detention, by the restrictions on movement, by the actions of some soldiers. But he justifies it by the duty of the state to protect its ‘own’ citizens. Bob’s presentation is slick, and probably sounds plausible to many of the groups he shows round. But we find it full of contradictions. Given that he does not admit the West Bank is under occupation, and given that Palestinians living there are not Israeli citizens but subject to Israeli military law, what in his view is the status of the Palestinian community who share this land with him: not citizens yet not occupied either!

Bob, quite bizarrely, insists ‘settlements are a bridge to peace.’ His framing of the conflict bears no relationship to what we see happening on the ground. When he talks of the need to build on the other two hills for ‘natural growth’, because settler children and grandchildren need homes, he seems not to connect it to the fact that Palestinians in nearby Bethlehem have lost 80% of their land to settlement construction. My mind wanders to the sisters I talked about in my last journal, Manal and Amani, squashed back into their in-laws’ house beside the rubble of their small extensions.

When we go into the synagogue for a question and answer session, we raise various points but Bob has an answer for everything. He is clearly sincere as he trots out what are to us are old chestnuts. ‘If only the Israelis had a partner for peace, things could be sorted out.’ ‘If only the Palestinians would keep to previous agreements, then we could trust them.’ ‘If only they wouldn’t engage in terrorism, we wouldn’t have to repress them…’ That was the only time Bob lost his rag. Someone had the nerve to suggest that since terrorism is killing civilians for political purposes, could it not be said that both sides are guilty?

In our afternoon session, I put Bob’s ‘settlements are a bridge to peace’ notion to a speaker from B’tselem, the respected Israeli human rights organisation that seeks to inform the Israeli public of the reality of the occupation. He looks at me as if EAPPI had started recruiting Martians.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10