When Susan Nathan was a young girl she dreamed of moving to Israel. Growing up Jewish in post WWII London led to a great sense of loneliness and isolation, says Nathan.
âeoeI was very often the only Jewish child in a school of about three to four hundred Christian children.âe
Nathan first felt the pain of discrimination when she was just 12 years old. That year she worked hard on her academics in hopes of gaining acceptance to a prestigious girls school in London.
She did very well and earned a spot at the school but was later denied because of her religious beliefs.
âeoeThe Head-Mistress wrote to my father and said she was very sorry but because the Jewish quota was full I couldnâe(TM)t take up my place. So I decided on that same day that nobody was ever going to decide my future again because I was a Jew. And that meant I had to go to Israel.âe
In 1999 Nathan fulfilled her lifelong dream when she exercised her Jewish right of return and moved from London to Tel Aviv.
Recently divorced and with both children grown and out of the home she deicide the time was right.
âeoeI thought, if I donâe(TM)t do it now at 50, Iâe(TM)m not going to do it at all because I wonâe(TM)t have the stamina. And so I did it and it was actually the best decision of my life.âe
Shortly after her move, Nathan was diagnosed with a rare form of eye cancer.
For treatment she traveled to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem. It was during her time in Hadassah that she first witnessed the other side of Israel.
Nathan was surprised to see Palestinians and Israelis sharing the same ward. She was even more shocked to learn many of the Palestinians held Israeli citizenship.
But it was her experience with a Jewish Orthodox man that led her to question what was really going on.
âeoeI found it very shocking to see a young settler, about 26, come into my ward with a huge gun slung on one side and a hand gun on the other side.âe
Nathan asked the man why he was so heavily armed in a hospital. He replied that he had just seized an Arab house in East Jerusalem and therefore always carried the weapon for protection.
âeoeI began to think what sort of life is this and what is my role in a society where some of us live like this. It was an eye opener and I felt very uncomfortable with it.âe
Soon after that experience Nathan left the comfort of Tel Aviv and moved to the Arab village of Tamra.
In her 2005 book, The Other Side of Israel: My Journey Across the Jewish-Arab Divide, Nathan details her first years in Tamra. She also writes about the many human rights abuses and growing humanitarian crisis she witnessed while living and working in Arab Israel.
Since writing the book Nathan has traveled the world speaking out against the human rights abuses committed by the Israeli government and detailing the horrific living conditions that Arab Israelis face.
Nathan will once again tell her story later this year when she travels to the Netherlands to testify before the International Court of Justice at The Hague.
Nathanâe(TM)s North American speaking tour recently passed through Toronto. While in the city she sat down with rabbletv, where she spoke candidly about her life in Tamra, the human rights abuses she witnessed and the importance of including women in the peace process.
To watch the interview in its entirety on rabbletv click here.
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