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Ghada Karmi

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Ghada Karmi
غادة كرمي
Karmi in 2008
Ghada Hasan Sa'id Karmi
غادة حسن سعيد كرمي

1939 (age 84–85)
Alma mater
  • Physician
  • academic
  • writer

Ghada Karmi (Arabic: غادة كرمي, Ghādah Karmi; born 1939) is a Palestinian-born academic, physician and author. She has written on Palestinian issues in newspapers and magazines, including The Guardian, The Nation and Journal of Palestine Studies.

Early life and education

Karmi in a lecture in the University of Manchester during Israeli Apartheid Week, 2008

Karmi was born in Jerusalem to a Muslim family. Her father, Hasan Sa'id Karmi was Palestinian while her mother was Syrian;[1] she was the youngest child with an older brother and sister.[2] In her 2002 autobiography, In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story, she describes growing up in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Katamon, with its mixture of Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Among the family friends and neighbors was poet Khalil al-Sakakini and his family. Her family fled Jerusalem for Damascus, Syria, in April 1948; she said their villa was taken by Israel.[3] The family eventually settled in Golders Green, in London, where her father worked for the BBC Arabic Service as a translator and broadcaster.[1]

Karmi studied medicine at the University of Bristol, graduating in 1964. Initially, she practised as a physician, specialising in the health and social conditions of ethnic minorities, migrants and asylum seekers.[4]

Academic career, activism and writings


Karmi was formerly married to someone she described in 2002 as a "quintessentially English boy" from a farming family near Bath.[5] The Six-Day War (Arab–Israeli war of 1967) led to the end of her marriage, as her husband and their friends were all on the side of Israel. She became a supporter of the Palestine Liberation Organization, [5] telling Donald Macintyre of The Independent in 2005 that she gained a "burning sense of injustice" around the events of her childhood.[3] Since 1972, she has been politically active for the Palestinian cause and gained a doctorate in the history of Arabic medicine from the University of London.[6]

Karmi is an associate fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, and a visiting professor at London Metropolitan University. She is also vice-chair of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU).[7]

She delivered the Edward Said Memorial lecture at the University of Adelaide, Australia in 2007.[4]

In her memoir, Return, Karmi describes a visit to her former home in Jerusalem following an invitation from Steven Erlanger, then the Jerusalem bureau chief of The New York Times, who realised his apartment was built onto the Karmi family's house described in her book In Search of Fatima. The experience was painful for her and she wrote in Return: "All I could think of were the many alien people who had lived in these rooms after us, and how each one erased more and more of our presence there."[8]

Israel and Palestine


In an interview with Executive Intelligence Review (reprinted in Middle East Policy Journal), Karmi stated that:

"There is actually nothing — repeat, nothing — positive about the existence of Israel, as far as the Arabs are concerned. You know, sometimes there are events, historical events, that happen against people's will. But, in time, they can find some positive aspect to something they didn't want to happen in the first place. This is not the case with Israel. On the contrary, as time has gone on, the existence of Israel has only increased the problems for the Arab region. It has increased the danger in the Arab world and is a threat not only to the security of the region, but the security of the whole world."

She also stated that:

"Israel, from its inception in 1948, has been given the most wonderful opportunity to behave itself, and it clearly has not done so. It's flouted every single law, it's behaved outrageously, it's made a travesty of international and humanitarian law. On what basis should this state continue to be a member of the United Nations?"[9]

At the Palestinian Return Conference held at SOAS in January 2011, Karmi referred to the creation of Israel as involving the dispossession and theft of a whole country: "The only way to reverse that is on the basis of rights and justice; that is the right of return of the refugees and the dispossessed and the exiles back to their homeland." She was then quoted as stating:

"If that were to happen we know very well that that would be the end of a Jewish state in our region".[10]

At a protest as part of the Global March to Jerusalem held in front of the Israeli Embassy in London on March 30, 2012, Karmi stated "Israel is finished". She further stated: "Today, we are here together because we know, we understand what Israel is doing to Jerusalem" and that Jerusalem "does not belong to Jewish Israelis or to Jews. We respect all religions but we do not allow one group to take over this wonderful city." According to Karmi, Israel does not deserve to continue as a state and that "We have no alternative but to act. The only way we can stop Israel is to act against it, against its interests, against its apartheid and policies."[11][12]

In 2012, Karmi was criticized by Shai Afsai[who?] as an example of authors who treat the Zionist story "The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man" as historical fact, which Karmi was said to have done in her book Married to Another Man and in other writings, although the story lacks a primary source. Other examples of authors given included Avi Shlaim and Anthony Pagden.[13][14]

In 2017, The Jewish Chronicle reported Karmi had said the word "untermensch", originally used as a description of Jews by the Nazis, could be legitimately used as a description of the relationship of Israel to the Palestinians at a conference held in Cork in the Republic of Ireland. Referring to an objection made against the use of the word, she said "about the use of the word 'untermesch'. Untermensch's equivalent in English is sub-human. And sub-human is how people in Gaza feel they are being treated by the Israeli army." According to her, the Jewish population in Palestine were "groups of foreign immigrants trying to behave as though they were indigenous" and "It is a foreign community who just turned up." The creation of Israel was "a stitch up from beginning to end" by the United Nations.[15]

Selected bibliography



  • Al-Hassan, Ahmad Y.; Karmi, Ghada; Namnum, Nizar, eds. (1978). Proceedings of the First International Symposium for the History of Arabic Science 5–12 April 1976. Volume II. Papers in European Languages. Aleppo: University of Aleppo, Institute for the History of Arabic Science.
  • Karmi, Ghada (1995). Multicultural Health Care: Current Practice and Future Policy in Medical Education. London: British Medical Association. ISBN 0-7279-0940-1.
  • Karmi, Ghada, ed. (1996). Jerusalem Today: What Future for the Peace Process?. Ithaca Press. ISBN 0-86372-226-1. (with a contribution by Edward Said)
  • Karmi, Ghada (1999). The Palestinian Exodus 1948-1998. Ithaca Press.
  • Karmi, Ghada (2002). In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story. Verso. ISBN 1-85984-694-7.
  • Karmi, Ghada (2007). Married to another man: Israel's dilemma in Palestine. Pluto Press. ISBN 0-7453-2065-1.
  • Karmi, Ghada (2023). One State: The Only Democratic Future for Palestine-Israel. Pluto Press.




  1. ^ a b Llewellyn, Tim (7 May 2007). "Hasan Karmi". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  2. ^ Macintyre, Donald (18 May 2007). "Hasan Karmi". The Independent. Archived from the original on 13 July 2010. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b Macintyre, Donald (19 October 2005). "Fleeing Palestine: My right to return". The Independent. London. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  4. ^ a b "Doctor Ghada Karmi's Biography". Edward Said Memorial Lecture. University of Adelaide. 2007. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014.
  5. ^ a b Barkham, Patrick (25 October 2002). "Forever in a foreign land". The Times. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  6. ^ "Author - Ghada Karmi". Open Democracy. Archived from the original on 21 July 2006.
  7. ^ "RSA - Karmi, Ghada". Archived from the original on 29 July 2008.
  8. ^ Lebor, Adam (9 July 2015). "Living, working and dying: the literature of occupied Palestine". New Stateman. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  9. ^ "Interview: Ghada Karmi, a voice from exile". Middle East Policy. 22 March 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2024. (Previously appeared in Executive Intelligence Review)
  10. ^ Millett, Richard (16 January 2011). "Ghada Karmi calls for 'the end of a Jewish state in our region'". The Jewish Chronicle. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  11. ^ Paul, Jonny (1 April 2012). "British lecturer: Jerusalem doesn't belong to Jews". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 19 May 2022.
  12. ^ Land Day In London, Alondon, April 4, 2012.
  13. ^ Afsai, Shai (Spring 2012). "'The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man': Historical Fabrication and an Anti-Zionist Myth". Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies. 30 (3): 35–61.
  14. ^ Afsai, Shai (December 2020). "'The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man.' The tenacity of an anti-Zionist fable". Fathom Journal. Retrieved 6 June 2024.
  15. ^ Halpin, Lee (2 April 2017). "Israel compared to Nazi Germany at Cork conference". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 5 June 2024.