Activists from Different Worlds.
Lee Camp, the host of “Behind the Headlines,” interviews two prominent – and very different – peace activists working to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Adam Bloomberg and Issa Amro could not have grown up more differently. Amro in the embattled occupied Palestinian city of Hebron and Bloomberg in a prominent Jewish family during the troubled years of South Africa’s apartheid regime. So how did they both find themselves working so vociferously towards the same goal? Host Lee Camp finds out in this thought-provoking and wide-ranging interview with the two activists.
Adam Bloomberg is a Jewish photographer, professor, and activist raised in apartheid South Africa who resides in Berlin. Issa Amro is a Palestinian activist based in Hebron and co-founder of the grassroots group Youth Against Settlements. In this broad-ranging conversation, Bloomberg and Amro discuss their personal histories and how they fell into political activism.
Bloomberg recalls his Ashkenazi Jewish background and tells how his grandparents on both sides escaped the Holocaust in the 1930s before arriving in South Africa at the height of apartheid, where Bloomberg was born in 1970. There, he attended a Jewish Zionist religious school where he was fed two primary propaganda lines. The first was that if apartheid ended in South Africa, it would mean the end for white people in the country. The other was about his so-called homeland in Israel, which, he was told, was “a land without people for a people without a land.”
Bloomberg recalls how both of these ideological lines collapsed for him at the same. The apartheid system revealed itself, as did the narrative that validated the nation-state of Israel and the Zionist movement. Bloomberg then became an artist and photographer and eventually found himself living in Germany. There, he says, is where he developed his nose for fascism borne in South Africa and from, as Bloomberg sees it, his Jewish DNA and the long lineage of trauma that came with it.
Bloomberg regularly denounces Israel’s apartheid system, and for that, he is being persecuted, most recently by Hamburg, Germany’s first anti-Semitism commissioner, Stephan Hansel.
Amro is a Palestinian human rights defender and political activist from the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank and co-founder and former Youth Against Settlements (YAS) coordinator. YAS is a Palestinian-led grassroots movement that aims to end the Israeli occupation through nonviolent direct action.
Despite facing constant intimidation and threats to his life, he continues to speak out against the occupation and advocate for the rights of Palestinians. He has been recognized internationally for his human rights work and received numerous awards, including the prestigious Olof Palme Prize in 2017 and the Anna Lindh Prize in 2019.
Amro recalls his upbringing in the occupied Palestinian city of Hebron, where the Israeli occupation was most intense. He recounts how he saw Israeli soldiers and settlers abusing Palestinians from a young age, pushing him to become involved in activism at 14 when he witnessed his friend being arrested by Israeli forces. At that moment, Amro decided to join the Palestinian nonviolent resistance, resulting in numerous arrests and long stints in notorious Israeli prisons.
Lee’s conversation with Amro and Bloomberg, who have been targets of relentless media campaigns – and worse – to levy a price on their activism, provides unique insight into the very different lives and backgrounds of two activists working to end the Israeli occupation.