MEMO hosted a book launch event yesterday at the University of London’s Senate House for the recently published and reviewed Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab-Jew by distinguished author Professor Avi Shlaim, a British-Israeli historian of Iraqi heritage.
Joining Professor Shlaim was another accomplished British academic, Professor of Humanities Jacqueline Rose, who also shares a Jewish background to discuss his memoirs. The conversation was moderated by MEMO columnist Nasim Ahmed.
As the event began, Ahmed set the stage by outlining the evening’s programme before noting that this conversation will be taking place “in the dark shadows of the tragic events in Gaza,” adding that “we have grown accustomed to indifference and complicity in the suffering of Palestinians.”
Less accustomed are we, Ahmed said, are that two leaders of major political parties have refused to call out war crimes and the crimes against humanity we have witnessed in recent days.
Relevant to the discussion ahead, he pointed out that former Israeli general, Shlomo Brom said earlier this week that “The state that was founded to protect Jews from persecution failed miserably in protecting its citizens living near the Gaza Strip.” According to Brom this crisis shows the failure of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. This was relevant, Ahmed says, as despite Israel’s military might, Jews are not safe, going as far as to say that they are less safe now.
As part of his address to the audience, Shlaim explained that this event was planned some time ago, stressing that we had no way of knowing it will take place amid such distressing times. For Shlaim, the mutual hatred on both sides of the conflict can be attributed to the “deeply divisive and destructive force” of nationalism, which he distinguishes from patriotism, by the need of having an external enemy.
Tracing his personal and family history, the book as the name hints, spans three countries, that of Iraq, followed by his formative years growing up in Israel, followed by his adolescence in Britain. Pertinently, the book, he says “traces the evolution of my thinking on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after the present day,” whereby he is an advocate of one democratic state, “from the river to the sea, with equal rights for all citizens. Regardless of religion, and ethnicity.”
Source : MEMO