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Finding Palestine in Israel, a talk by Linda Dittmar

  • Friends Meeting House 5 Longfellow Park Cambridge, MA, 02138 United States (map)

Linda Dittmar, an Israeli-American, will speak about her experience growing up in Israel during the Nakba, the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinians by Israel as it established a state. And what she's learned and felt subsequently.

Sponsored by the Peace and Social Justice Committee of Friends Meeting at Cambridge

Further information: Skip Schiel,

Topic: Finding Palestine within Israel. “This talk concerns my long-term work with an American photographer to locate and record what can still be seen of Palestinian villages, some 450 of them, depopulated and destroyed during Israel’s “War of Independence” or “The Nakba,” the catastrophe in Arabic. While this work continues to be extremely painful for me, it is an ethical and political necessity--an acknowledgement, apology, and reparation that we, Israelis, owe the Palestinians, along the lines of South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” hearings and the Arab conciliation ceremony.”

“Sulkha.” Like others, I see acknowledgement as crucial to Israel’s survival, whatever form it takes. My talk would focus on my coming to this thinking through a gradual seeping in of awareness --a cumulative witnessing that became hard to deny. Signs of the Nakba are visible everywhere in Israel and yet ignored with myopia or a knowing shrug: What do you expect? It’s us versus them! I am deeply aware of the horrifying history that has trailed Jews for centuries, way before the holocaust. I appreciate our need for a homeland but question the homeland we are creating. This “us versus them” argument is at the core of all wars and certainly speaks to Israel’s survival, but also the Palestinians’.

I love the Israel I grew up in, but that Israel is long gone and the one it has become is shaking up the region. I would not have taken on this subject, nor been willing to talk about it publically, were I not convinced that laying it bare is a necessary step toward restoring everybody’s wellbeing.

Biography: Born to a Zionist family that settled in Ottoman Palestine in the 19th century, Linda grew up in British Palestine during WWII and Israel’s War of Independence of 1948, and was drafted into the Israeli military during the Sinai war of 1956. She has been living in the US since 1961, where she studied and received her Ph.D in English from Stanford University in 1970.

Now Professor Emerita and winner of the Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching award, she taught at the University of Massachusetts--Boston for 40 years. She also taught at Tel Aviv University and the University of Paris and had two Fulbright appointments to India, most recently as Distinguished Chair.

Linda’s teaching and writing include 20th century fiction and film studies, with emphasis on transnational perspectives. Her publications include From Hanoi to Hollywood; The Vietnam War in American Film and Multiple Voices in Feminist Film Criticism. She is a long-time member of Radical Teacher’s editorial group and is currently working on a memoir about the Israeli-Palestinian war of 1948, Tracing Homelands: A Memoir of Israel’s Becoming.

She has lectured on Israel/Palestine at various community locations and taught courses on Israeli and Palestinian literature at UMB’s Honors Program, at Tufts’ University’s Experimental Program, and at UMB’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

Later Event: March 22
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