Home » Campaigns » Anti-Palestinian racism » Testimony 11: Miriam

Testimony 11: Miriam

I would like to share two incidents separated by 40 years. I grew up in an intensely Zionist and socialist home. My parents met in the late 1930s in Manchester through a Zionist group, possibly Habonim. My father had just become a refugee from Nazism, arriving in Manchester on his 28th birthday (27th October 1936) whereas my mother’s family had come from Russia in the late 19th century. It was later jokingly called a ‘mixed marriage’.

After my father’s internment as an enemy alien for 9 months (June 1940-March 1941), my parents married in Manchester and went to live in West Yorkshire, where there were very few Jews. My sisters and I were all born in Keighley and that is where we grew up, until moving to nearby Shipley now part of Bradford. There were lots of Israelis studying textiles, and my parents invited them for dinner frequently. There was one Israeli couple where the wife  taught us Hebrew.  The husband had fought in the 1967 war, parachuting into Jerusalem. He always declared over the dinner table that ‘the only good Arab is a dead Arab!’ and he was a totally committed Israeli, a proud member of the IDF. 

Years later, I became a founding member of Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JfJfP) in about 2002. Many of my old Habonimnik friends questioned why I was involved in such an explicitly biased organisation: why only for Palestinians, they would ask? Why not call yourselves Jews for Justice, as surely Jews also deserve justice too? The point about the inequalities between Jews and Israelis and Palestinians seemed entirely lost on them.