Samir El-youssef, raised in a refugee camp, grew up into a writer who challenges the myths of Palestinian politics. Matthew J Reisz meets a trouncer of taboos.
From The Independent:
El-youssef has a Sunni father, but his mother comes from the only Shi’ite Palestinian family. This, he believes, “has contributed to the diversity of my understanding of things – from the beginning you are aware of yourself as someone different”. Although he has contributed many articles to the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat, his criticisms of the second intifada and the Arab policy of “non-normalisation” in relation to Israel have sometimes proved too controversial to be published.
“We have to meet up with the Israelis and have a dialogue with them,” he explains. “The idea of not meeting is simply childish and stupid. But it is not easy to express your views. You can be branded a ‘Zionist’ or a ‘traitor’ simply for not parroting the same old slogans.”
His own social circle consists largely of liberal British Jews and Israelis. Asked about his outspoken opposition to the academic boycott of Israel, he responds cheerfully: “What hope do we have if we as writers don’t speak to each other? Do we really think our idiotic leaders are going to sort things out?”