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Presentation: Thinking about the Israel / Palestine dispute

A 21 minute talk given to the sixth form of Francis Holland School in London which emphasises people's tendency to take sides on the dispute.


Delivered on 19 September 2017. Posted 20 September 2017

One purpose of my website is to make it easy for strangers to contact me.

On 29 June I received the following email via my website:

Dear Mohammed Amin,

We are two upper sixth students inquiring on behalf of Francis Holland School's History and Politics Society. We are extremely interested in your area of work and its contemporary pertinence. We believe that our society could benefit hugely from a talk bringing light to the topic of the Israel Palestine conflict covering both a brief background history but also your personal views and how that may relate to modern influences of conflict in the UK media and societal perception.

In an age of such outdated persecution we feel it is imperative for all to understand the necessary respect for cultural diversity in Britain and globally. We are very intrigued by all of the work that you do and would be delighted to be able to meet you and benefit and learn from your stance and expertise. We understand that you are very busy but any response would be much appreciated regarding attending our society for a discussion and debate.

Kind Regards,
[Names of senders]

While I had never heard of the school before, a quick search established that it was in London, and therefore very accessible for me. We scheduled the talk for 19 September. The session time was 40 minutes, and I wanted to allow plenty of time for discussion with the audience.

Planning the talk

Both past experience, and also some encounters with people between agreeing to speak and creating the talk, made me acutely aware of the tendency of people to take entrenched positions on the dispute. Having done so, they typically then proceed to demonise the other party.

As I would be speaking in an educational setting, I decided to make this the theme of my talk, while also seeking to equip them to better understand the dispute.

You can listen to the presentation and see the slides below.


How the presentation was recorded

My first presentation recording was done on the spur of the moment, just putting my iPhone 6 on the table and relying on its built in microphone. See my page Lecture: One Muslim’s Perspective on Religious Freedom.

Once I found recording presentations worthwhile, I purchased a high quality Sennheiser digital lapel microphone which plugs into the data socket of my iPhone 6. That produces a much better recording.

The slides

I am happy to share the original PowerPoint slide presentation.


On slide 11, which is just over 13 minutes in, I give the date of the Yom Kippur war as 1974. This shows the danger of relying upon one's memory. That war was of course in 1973. This has been corrected in the PowerPoint slides supplied above.

Supplemental reading

The presentation mentions the following:

My review of "The Jewish State" by Theodor Herzl

My review of "Old New Land (Altneuland)" by Theodor Herzl

The book “The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict” by Jonathan Schneer.

"The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement 18 August 1988" on the Yale Law School website.

Hamas's May 2017 update on the Middle East Eye website.

Other reading and the maps in the presentation

There is a section of my website devoted to the Israel / Palestine dispute. In particular, the three maps mentioned in the presentation can be seen at a larger size in my review of "1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War" by Benny Morris.

Twitter and Facebook

My talk mentions a tweet of 19 June and the subsequent response. The tweet is embedded below, and clicking it will show you the responses it received.

I enjoyed attending iftar hosted by Israeli Ambassador Mark Regev at his residence this evening. Good mix of Muslims and Jews present.

— Mohammed Amin (@Mohammed_Amin) June 19, 2017

The talk also mentions the linked Facebook status update, and the comments and likes and other reactions it received.


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