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In an age of such outdated persecution we feel it is imperative for all to understand the necessary respect for cultural diversity in Britain and globally.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.
[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.
This page has the following sections:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The charity Parallel Histories was set up by Michael Davies, a history teacher I have known since 2015 when I spoke at Lancaster Royal Grammar School. It develops methods and resources for teaching contested histories in parallel.
The have an excellent collection of materials for learning about the Israel / Palestine conflict.
The question and answer session was also recorded. However, I am not publishing the full audio recording for two main reasons:
Instead, I have listened to the Q&A session and, where I regard the questions as being worth sharing, have written down a condensed version of the questions. I have then published the audio of my answers.
During my answer I explained how governments sometimes secretly assist and promote their most extreme opponents to undermine their more moderate opponents.
I also covered the religious positioning of some of the main Israeli political parties.
I garbled the title of the book I mentioned in my answer. The correct title is “Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life” by Sari Nusseibeh.
The patrilineal descent was not something that I was familiar with. I believe the questioner had in mind this definition from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East ("UNRWA") website:
Who are Palestine refugees?
Palestine refugees are defined as “persons whose normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948, and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict.”
UNRWA services are available to all those living in its area of operations who meet this definition, who are registered with the Agency and who need assistance. The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including adopted children, are also eligible for registration.
During my answer I shared my view that the Palestinian “Right of Return” is incapable of being exercised.
I explained why the outside world needs to play a much stronger role.
As part of my general approach, rather than trying to lay down a detailed solution with no authority to implement it, I brought my answer back to what I and the pupils could do to make a difference.
I stressed the distinction between boycotting Israel (which I oppose), and boycotting Israeli West Bank settlements (which I support).