Israel Bonan was born in Cairo,Egypt in the mid 1940s. He grew up and lived in Egypt, the country where his parents were born and where the Jewish community dated back to ancient times. Although both his parents and grandparents were born in Egypt, his great-grandfather was born in Tunisia so he was considered a Tunisian citizen by Egyptian nationality laws at the time.

In 1967 Israel was unexpectedly arrested for being Jewish. For six days Israel went from prison to prison until he was just thrown out of the country altogether with only the tattered clothes on his back. Many of his friends and relatives were imprisoned for years in Egypt only because they were Jewish. After he was expelled from Egypt, Israel went from Greece to Germany and then Paris where he was welcomed by the Jewish community and eventually reunited with his family about a month later. He and his family were able to immigrate to the U.S., where Israel currently resides.

Israel is a lecturer at Simmons College, a JIMENA committee member, and a chairman of the Justice and Redress Committee of the Historical Society of Jews from Egypt (