The Guardian has a full-page interview with dissident Israeli historian Ilan Pappe today, tucked away in the Education supplement, headlined: "'I felt it was my duty to protest": The Israeli historian tells Chris Arnot that speaking out for the Palestinians turned him into a pariah." The generous length gives interviewer Arnot the chance to range broadlyover Pappe's career and the many controversies in which he has been embroiled, as well touching on the Gaza conflict.
Likes:"19th-century English novels, cinema, classical music, Liverpool FC."
Dislikes: "systematised state injustice".
Pappe left Israel in dramatic circumstances:
For an academic to describe himself as "feeling for a while like public enemy No 1" suggests either an inflated ego or an incurable case of paranoia. Professor Ilan Pappe gives every appearance of suffering from neither. He is an amiable character with an engaging grin. By his own admission, he "likes to be liked". Not a natural rebel then? "Certainly not," he says.
Yet in 2005 and 2006, this Israeli son of German-Jewish emigrants found himself in the eye of a storm that would lead him to leave the country of his birth and seek sanctuary in the English west country. He has been chair in the history department at Exeter University for the last 18 months. By the time he left the University of Haifa, he had been condemned in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset; the minister of education had publicly called for him to be sacked; and his pictures had appeared in the country's biggest-selling newspaper at the centre of a target. Next to it, a popular columnist addressed his readers thus: "I'm not telling you to kill this person, but I shouldn't be surprised if someone did."
The death threats had already been arriving by post, email and phone since Pappe, 54, had been asked on national radio whether he was going to take his complaints about the treatment of Palestinians to the UN security council. "I had to point out that I was not a politician or a diplomat," he says, "I was an academic." Albeit an academic who had recently published a book called The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. A somewhat provocative title, I suggest...