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Shared Narratives — Session 2

Session 2: Approaches to the 'Other Narrative'

Discussion of papers by Yosef Gorny (Tel Aviv University, Emeritus) and by Mohammed Daoud-Dajani (al-Quds University. The papers are in the printed volume of Shared Narratives.

YOSEF GORNY: I’d like to start with a personal confession which may surprise some of you who are old veterans of Israeli-Palestinian encounters. This is the first time that I am sitting together with Jewish and Arab historians and social scientists. I wrote a book about Zionism and the Arabs and the Arab confederations, but I’ve never had such an experience. So I want to thank you.

The title of my paper is “To Understand Oneself; Does it Mean to Understand the Other?” I would like to give some reflections about the paper and explain what is behind it and what is beyond it. Behind it is me striving to understand the other; me with my personal history. I think that among the Jewish section here, I am the only one who was once part of a minority, and was not an original Israeli.

At the age of fourteen, I came to Israel.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: You came to the land, not to Israel.
YOSEF GORNY: To Palestine, all right. We will not argue,
We came from Russia as refugees. We were in Russia during the war, luckily,

and from there we went through Poland and Germany and then came here by illegal immigration. I am very proud to have been arrested by the British and to have been in a prison concentration camp, a British prison camp from their point of view.

I am a part of this national striving, of this Jewish national effort, of thinking and looking at this country, Eretz Yisrael, as a part of myself.

Without any hesitation, I confess that we lived in Germany, not in Nazi Germany. After the war we lived in a very ideological atmosphere. Because to say something about the Jews you must understand, after the Holocaust and what happened, after- wards at the camps the Jews immediately started to quarrel about politics. In our small camp we had three parties. We had Mapai, we had the Left, and we had the Right. But the Arab question, the problem that there are Arabs in this country, never arose among us at that time because it was natural for us that we were coming back to our homeland.


To read the entirety of Session 2, click here


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