Thursday, May 19, 2011

A bit about myself

I was born in Israel in 1952.  That is where I grew up and that is where I lived until 1977, when I came to the US to study.  In 1992 I became an American citizen and am now a Professor of Linguistics at the University of Southern California.
The 1967 war found in me a rebellious high school student, but nonetheless neither my education nor my upbringing would have allowed me at the time to question the official presentation of the events or the motivation behind that war.  Perhaps my problem was that I believed in it too literally.  I did believe Israel wanted peace, and I did believe that it would trade its 1967 victories against one.  Perhaps also tales of Europe during WWII were still fresh in my mind.  What Israel came to control in the wake of the 1967 war, as I saw it then and as I have seen it ever since, is not real estate.  It is people.  It is the expression of numbed shock in the eyes of the residents of East Jerusalem when I first walked along its streets, some three weeks after the end of the war that has stayed with me.  The rest were really details.  It took the years that it took to come to realize that Israel is not interested in a just peace, to challenge the official narratives, the consensus, and finally the core idea of a Jewish state.  By the mid seventies, still in Israel, I have become an activist and I have been active since, with a myriad of groups in Israel, in the UK and in the USA, including student groups, Academic faculty groups, coalition groups, and media groups (including the Hamsin Collective and KPFK's Radio Intifada).  I lectured rather extensively on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, primarily throughout the US to community and academic audiences, but also in other countries, and have written and published a few articles on the topic.
In the many years that I have been thinking of myself as an activist for Peace with Justice in the Middle East, there has been relatively little to make me optimistic.  Israel has become progressively more oppressive and brazen, both within and without the 67 borders, the situation in the Occupied Territories has become considerably worse, and international support has become progressively more and more feeble.  Nonetheless, in the past few years two successful initiatives have emerged which have made me audacious enough to hope.  One is the Boycott campaign, and the second is the campaign of sending boats to Gaza to break the Israeli Blockade.  For me, being part of the journey of The Audacity of Hope would be an opportunity to express physically, so to speak, both my support for the occupied people of Palestine, and my rage at the actions of a government that pretends to speak on my behalf.  I look forward to it as a means of bolstering my own belief in the possibility of change, as well as enhancing my ability to be an effective activist.


  1. Hello Hagit,
    I have read your linguistics for years (I work on pronominal variation in Romance), and a mutual friend just pointed out that you will be on the Audacity. I will be on the Canadian boat,

    I would say we might get a chance to talk linguistics, but maybe not. Nice to know you are aboard nonetheless. Peace, David

  2. Hagit,

    It is so inspiring when "regular" people stand up to unjust, criminal authority with nothing but their unwillingness to accept evil and their belief that a better world IS possible. And it is especially so in the case of the murderous, nuclear-armed Israeli regime, backed to the hilt by the U.S., which seems to know no bounds on its brutality against the Palestinian people and its determination to deny them even a modicum of simple human dignity, let alone their own state. And it is doubly inspiring when one of the resisters is someone you know personally! You are one of my heros. Good luck!!! Know, for sure, that with your act of courage, you will be representing many, many others. I will be following your blog closely, and, of course, with complete solidarity--and trying to get others to do the same.