From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In 60 years of fighting, Israelis and Palestinians often seem to ignore the pernicious impact that decades of warfare have had on the contested land itself. Not so Palestinian human rights lawyer and avid walker Shehadeh (Strangers in the House
), who has spent most of his adult life watching the West Bank—territory recognized internationally as part of a future Palestinian state—carved up by Israeli roads and settlements. The region's vistas have been a distant second consideration to the needs of Israeli nationalism and security concerns, perceived and real. Shehadeh's memoir is profoundly pained, his anguish over Israeli occupation policies palpable, as he lovingly sketches a landscape that is rapidly disappearing. Our land was being transformed before our eyes, he writes, and a new map was being drawn.... We had become temporary residents of Greater Israel. The son of Aziz Shehadeh, the first Palestinian to call publicly for a two-state solution, Shehadeh's anger isn't reserved only for Israeli occupation policies—he also rails against Palestinian negotiators he believes favor political expediency over territorial integrity or environmental concerns—and he searches genuinely for common ground with Israelis. Ultimately, though, Shehadeh is too honest to offer much hope, comforting himself only with the understanding that human realities come and go, but the land remains. (June)
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A work of passionate polemic, journeying, history, and autobiography, this highly original consideration of the Palestinian-Israeli issue is structured around a series of vigorous, attentive hikes through the occupied territories. Shehadeh, a lawyer and human-rights activist who lives in the West Bank city of Ramallah, gives the reader, accustomed to the point-counterpoint of daily journalism, a personal sense of one mans attachment to his land and of a peoples feelings of loss and uncertainty as more settlements are constructed and reconciliation drifts farther from view. Shehadeh is firm in his views of Israeli policy, but he is also an open soul, and his final walk in the book is with an Israelia moving encounter in a volume that, in the Palestinian literature of hope and fortitude, ranks with Sari Nusseibehs memoir, "Once Upon a Country."
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