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Many moons ago as a newly employed grad I met my first Palestinians under unusual circumstances. Driving across the Libyan Sahara as night fell, looking for the tell tale glow of the oil rig on the horizon I spied a group of headlights and small fire off to one side. I approach intending to ask for directions only to be confronted by two guys pointing rifles at me. Ooops. I stop as there is nowhere to go and explain what I am doing there, as best I could.

One guy speaks reasonable English and invites me to tea. Hard to refuse under the circumstances. Come to find that there are six of them. Four Saharans, people who claim that the Sahara is their domain and do not recognize country boundaries, even if they were marked. Two Palestinians who were making a living with the Saharans in the export import business, generally known as smuggling goods.

There followed a long campfire discussion and history lesson on the creation of Israel and the expulsion of Palestinians by the post war powers and my role in those events, that led to the current predicament of my hosts. Obviously the answer was none, however I was guilty of ignorance, having only a limited understanding the situation from the perspective of the British Government.

I left with a general direction of a lazy hand wave "that way" and a different understanding of the Palestinian problems that still influence my thinking on the situation to this day.
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