Some time ago I was asked if I had ever visited Israel. The answer was no. Then I was asked if I would be interested in doing so. The answer was yes. I received early instruction in the Old Testament and retain murky memories of plates in family bibles of the Holy Land. Before university, my parents wanted me to stay on a kibbutz; I wanted to go on a motorbike to Jerusalem. One of my first teachers of history is now a Rabbi in Paris. I missed the Bizot group visit to the Israel Museum and have never seen the Bauhaus houses of Tel Aviv. I have been the beneficiary of long-term support from those who are deeply associated with Israel and its institutions. Why not ? I discovered that it was a leading question following the publication of a letter in the Guardian which called for a total cultural boycott. Not long afterwards, I was invited to visit by Culture for Coexistence, a group which exists specifically to encourage a better understanding and knowledge of the cultural politics of Israel. So it is that I am with a group of fellow neophytes struggling to understand the impossible complexities of Israeli and indeed Palestinian history, politics and culture.