Shahira Samy interviews Avi Shlaim for a recent article for Al-Ahram Weekly, the English-language Egyptian weekly. Speaking about his “life-long trajectory of resistance” and views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on his journey from ardent nationalism to historical revionism, Shlaim recalls the defining moments that shaped his personal perspectives and academic analysis. Despite a deliberate decision to specialise in Western European integration in his early academic career, Shlaim was nevertheless drawn to “the lures of the Arab-Israeli conflict”.
Shahira Samy claims Shlaim’s groundbreaking research “has dismissed forever the Zionist rhetoric of the foundation of the state, the events of the 1948 war and beyond … challenging conventional perceptions of the conflict. Rather than viewing it as a simple one that pits Israel against a monolithic and implacably hostile Arab world, Shlaim has set straight the myth of Arab intransigence and demonstrated how the history of the conflict is a result of efforts to suppress Palestinian nationalism”.
However for Shlaim, it is not he who has changed but the State of Israel itself:
I haven’t changed. It’s the character of Israel that has changed, and for my part I would like Israel to cease being a colonial oppressor and return to the only internationally recognised borders it has ever had. And those are the armistice demarcation lines of 1949. I reject, and reject completely, the Zionist colonial project.”
Avi Shlaim’s new book ‘Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations‘ is available now from all good booksellers.