I am constantly being told by those who follow ukip, edl, Britain first that I know nothing about Islam, that I am ignorant to the harm that those who think they are Muslims can do. This is my repost to them, and to those who can not understand why Israel built a wall. A wall I do not agree with, a wall I hate, but a wall that for many represents a temporary piece of mind.
In 1995 I was living in Israel with my Ghanian partner, an illegal immigrant tolerated by the Isrealies because they needed a cheap labour force and could no longer use Palestineans. I had gone to Israel in 1992 at a time of great hope. A hope that was destroyed a few years later by a young Israeli fanatic, Yigal Amir, who on the 4th November assassinated Yitzhak Rabin at a Peace Rally. I was at that rally, I was idealistic a member of Peace Now, hopeful that negotiations might lead somewhere.
The assination gave those Palestineans who did not want peace the opportunity they wanted. In order to get a right wing Likud government elected, that would abandon the peace process that they hated, they set out to bomb the country into fear.
There were many suicide bombs, everyone knew someone who was killed maimed or who had lost a loved one or a friend. A good friend of mine lost her daughter killed by a bomb in Dizengeoff. I was lucky, I took the bus everday, I looked at my fellow passengers, I got nervous looking at young men with coats on. I stepped in a shoe shop on Rehov Hamelekh George and haggled over a pair of brown shoes, if I had carried on walking I would have been here when the bomb went off.
Everyday my partner went off to work in Ramat Gan, he caught the number 20 Bus that goes past the Diamond Exchange. On the 24th July 1996 he went off to work, he was wearing Jeans and black boots, I was at home a day off. When the news came through on the TV of a bus bombing I started to ring ( Nokia bricks – everyone in Israel had one ). I rang continuously all day, but as always when there was a tragedy the mobile system was overloaded. On the news, Israeli news carries live pictures and holds back nothing, I saw a leg and I became convinced that the one leg was my partners. Suffice to say it was not, but I can still summon up the visceral fear I felt at the time and the anger I felt when he came home smiling and carrying a bottle of wine, oblivious to the fear I had lived with all day.
I loved my time in Israel, I love the people on both sides of the wall. I am not an apologist for violence carried out in the name of Islam or by the state of Israel. But neither will I allow whole communities of ordinary people be maligned because of their religion or their governments – we all know where that has led us.
Next time some kipper tells me I know nothing I will point them here and remind them that making assumptions is never a good idea.