Report from Takanori Hayao, presently a guest researcher at the University of Haifa

4 November, 2007 HAYAO Takanori

Haifa is a city in Northern Israel and partially due to its proximity to the Galilee district with a numerous Arab-Palestinian population it is known for the high percentage of citizens of Arab origin. The University of Haifa has the largest number of students with Arab background in Israel. The city is also called sometimes “a city of coexistence” or “a bilingual city” (the ideological aspect behind such notions remains to be discussed). Ilan Pappe, who was invited to UTCP last march, used to work at the University of Haifa. He is a historian, who thoroughly criticized the Israeli official history/national history from within Israel. This time we narrowly missed each other because Dr. Pappe has moved to England with his family and started work at the University of Exeter.

His absence is felt. As I am translating and editing a collection of lectures by Pappe, including his presentation at Komaba, I am continuing working on this project here in Haifa. Thus I am listening to the “voice of the absent”. I listen to the tape with the recorded voice of Dr. Pappe and writing it down for translation. The “voice of the absent”, on the contrary, reveals the preciousness of its owner. My private feeling of emptiness could be related to the “loss” of Dr. Pappe for the Israeli Society.The words of one of the former colleagues at Haifa, an Arab-Palestinian scholar about the departure of Dr. Peppe impressed me as a reflection of the reality of the “city of coexistence” Haifa.  “Ilan [Pappe] was experiencing harassment here. One can understand him wanting to leave. If I had a chance I would do the same. That he could not get promoted higher than senior lecturer was also part of the harassment. With such a number of achievements not to be able to publish in one’s national language, in Hebrew is also telling. It is a good thing to leave Israel. But he will return for sure. Whatever he says, he likes this place. He finds the meaning of his life in fighting here.” When we were talking in Tokyo last March he said that he is not going back in one or two years, but maybe after four or five. To continue raising one’s inner voice of critique must not be easy, but at the same time it is the most important thing. We can only wish him to return with even more power. (Excerpted translation: Dennitza Gabrakova)

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