This edited down version of the interview, featuring my introduction of Ido and stories about his ‘basic training’ and the time he spent on the West Bank, highlights the prevailing qualities of humanity in both Palestinians and Israelis.
The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the most controversial subjects of the past century. It is also a subject to which most politically engaged university students seem to be drawn. It often appears that it is more important to have an opinion on the conflict than it is to consider the conflict with genuine sensitivity. Yet, beyond the huge political scale of the fighting there lies real people on both sides with very real stories to tell. My interview with Ido, an ex Israeli conscript, was ultimately about finding new perspectives; it was about removing the debate from its political context and finding out what the conflict was like as experienced by someone who had witnessed it first hand. I wanted to ask questions that bought on descriptions and stories, rather than polemics and outrage. Student Media certainly isn't able to solve such complex political disputes, but it can provide insightful accounts of personal experience.
In the run up to the show there had been increasing tensions about Antisemitism on campuses around the UK and I thought it was important for there to be a Jewish voice that could talk about their personal experience. I knew that this person had to be someone who was respectful of other people’s identities and experience whilst also demanding respect for their own identity too. Ido, whom I had met very recently, appeared to be the perfect subject. Hearing him mention casually some of the things he had witnessed in his three years of national service I was struck by how engaging he was as a story teller.
However, being open about such experiences socially is not the same as being open in the context of an interview and during my preparation I was particularly focused on coming up with questions that invited responses based in experience rather than in opinion. I eventually settled on staging the interview as somewhat of a chronology; going through his first days in the army all the way to the end of the experience and noting particular moments along the way that he remembered, that had shocked him or that changed his perspective. Previously the show had focused on musicians, directors and playwrights — people who I find are often eager to talk — in doing this interview I wanted to focus on something different and more challenging.
In my research I made sure I was as informed as possible on the issue. Having completed a module the previous year on non-Western 20th century history that detailed the conflict, I then quickly devoured two books on the topic in preparation. Although this interview wasn’t about the conflict’s political implications I thought that sensitivity and knowledge was something that would prove valuable.
When it came to the interview itself I was keen to let his stories be the focus. It was important to remember that outside of setting the scene and prompting certain developments in the conversation, my job was to let his personal experiences take main stage. Up to that point in the year my show had run as an hour long interview interspersed with four musical choices by the guest, after Ido’s first song the stories had become so compelling we both agreed to continue the show just talking, without the musical selections.