I was born in Manchester, UK, where I was deeply involved in a Zionist youth movement, Habonim-Dror, before moving to Israel in 1985. I lived in Jerusalem until 1995, earning an MA and PhD in Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and teaching at a few higher education institutions, as well as writing some op-ed pieces for Israel’s English-language newspaper, The Jerusalem Post. During the first intifada I was active in several peace and anti-occupation groups, especially the Rapprochement dialogue group between Israelis from West Jerusalem and Palestinians from Beit Sahour. Over that time I stopped thinking of myself as a Zionist and was committed to a two state solution to the conflict. In 1995 I returned to the UK to take up a position as Lecturer in Critical Theory at the University of Nottingham and from 2002 was active in the city in a Jewish peace group and a Jewish-Muslim dialogue group. I moved to the USA in 2006, where I was an Associate Professor of Communication and Culture at Indiana University, Bloomington. I returned to the UK to take up a position as an Associate Head of School for Research, in the School of Communication and Arts, Leeds Trinity University, where I worked from 2017-19. I have now retired from academia.
My ongoing research project is about Israeli peace images and the imagination of peace. Israeli peace activism matters as material acts of political imagination that prefigure rather than achieve peace. Israeli peace organizations imagine peace by activating different “images “of peace, which are not only pictures, but also abstract political concepts, and which are performed in grass roots activism and communicative practices (such as solidarity action to protect Palestinian farmers recorded on video and posted to Facebook, which fashions an image of peace as partnership). I spent a research sabbatical in Israel/Palestine, September-December 2012, on which I reflect in this video presentation. During this time, I became agnostic about potential solutions to the conflict, focussing more on the need for justpeace in whatever form it may take, including justice for refugees. You can read some of my academic research for the project here, and here.
More of my academic research is available through https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jon_Simons3/publications