Israeli peace activist Miko Peled is in Seattle this week to give a presentation called “Beyond the Zionist Paradigm: New Hope for Israel/Palestine.”
I saw him at the University Temple United Methodist Church last night, and he’ll speak again at the University of Washington’s Smith Hall on Thursday at 6:30pm in room 205.
Peled was born and raised in Jerusalem, served in the Israeli army, and now lives in San Diego, California. He comes from a privileged family, his father was an Israeli army general who took an active role in orchestrating the attack on Arab armies in the Six Day War of 1967.
Peled’s presentation, outlined by his newly published book The General’s Son: a Journey of an Israeli in Palestine with a forward by Alice Walker, provides a historical narrative of the creation and objectives of the Zionist state, intertwined with narratives of personal histories.
The presentation is almost like The Question of Palestine 101. He begins with some background on Zionism’s movement into Palestine, then the partition of Palestine in 1948 and its occupation by what we now know as Israel.
But his narrative goes beyond politics to a personal story of self discovery.
His mother, born and raised in occupied Palestine, refused to live in homes stolen from Palestinians who fled for their lives in 1948, because she could not understand why she would steal their property. His father, in 1973 began informal peace negotiations with the Palestinian Liberation Organization. His niece was killed in a bombing in Jerusalem. His sister, in a press conference after her daughter’s death, said that she blamed the Israeli government because, “as long as Palestinians are denied peace, hope, homes, water, and land, we will always have things happen.”
For Peled, the truth lies in the personal story, not the national narrative. At age 39, he says he became aware of his privileges as an Israeli Jew from an affluent family in Israel, and came to the conclusion that everything he was taught in school and served in the military for were lies.
Peled draws on this awareness to narrate a story of a national dogma that is in its essence racist. And like racism, he says, Zionism has to go.