Ilan Pappe: I'm not a traitor (Interview)





Controversial historian Ilan Pappe left Israel last year after his endorsement of an academic boycott of Israel exposed him and his family to death threats. Now a professor in England, Pappe maintains that a cultural boycott on his homeland is the only way to end the occupation.

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Last summer, the Pappe family packed its belongings, rented out its spacious house in Israel and moved to Britain. Ever since his support of an academic boycott on Israel's universities became public, historian Ilan Pappe, 54, has felt like public enemy number one. Pappe says he had received death threats by phone almost on a daily basis.

Did it not occur to you that calling for an academic boycott on Israel might incite the public against you?

"I supported the boycott because I believe that without pressure, Israel will not end the occupation. Even before then I reached the conclusion that the peace process enables Israel to stall for time. When in 2003 several international organizations approached me and asked whether I would support the boycott I replied positively.

"I believe that things would change only if Israel receives a strong message that as long as the occupation continues it would not be a legitimate member of the international community, and that until then its academics, doctors and authors would not be welcome. A similar boycott was imposed on South Africa. It took 21 years, but it eventually led to the end of Apartheid."

Do you also call for an economic boycott of Israel?

"I am currently editing a book that compares the situation in Israel to the situation in South Africa, and I'm becoming convinced that there too, the economic boycott was less effective than the cultural one. As the son of German Jews, I know how important it is for our elites to be a part of Europe."


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