Extracted here from the Engage website.
I was born and brought up as an English Jew. The younger son of first and second generation immigrants. In my youth I thought of myself as Jewish rather than English and this self-consciousness has never gone away. For many years I have been involved in socialist organisations, academic research and teaching, and a personal life in which Jewishness has only played a bit part. I used to visit Israel, where I have relatives and friends, but I haven’t been back for some years now – in part because I disapprove of the occupation and the militarism that has accompanied it. I think it has damaged Israeli society from within as well as adding to the suffering many Palestinian men and women have had to endure throughout the Middle East. Over the last few years, however, we have had to listen to the grotesque vilification of Israel and exaggeration of its crimes. We have had to resist relentless calls to exclude Israeli academics from our campuses, editorial boards and research networks. With an increasing sense of adversity we have honed our arguments. Now for the third time our own union has chosen to go down the road of considering ‘the appropriateness of continued educational links with Israeli academic institutions’. The tones are mellow but they give me a shiver and make me feel my Jewishness in a new way.
[This excerpt was read out in a tribute speech by David Hirsh at Robert's funeral on 15 June 2018].