From Publishers Weekly
Not a light read, this memoir of the author, an American-bred Zionist, and his 15-year relationship with a Palestinian insurgent is bound to have detractors, in part because New Yorker
Washington correspondent Goldberg is painfully honest—about his dreams, limitations and anxieties. "I wanted to... have it all," he writes, "my parochialism, my universalism, a clean conscience, and a friendship with my enemy." Goldberg lived in Israel as a college student, sharpening the contradictory emotions shared by many of his American peers and eventually watching his former certainty crumble under the weight of military service at Ketziot, an Israeli prison. Grounded in his relationship with a prisoner, Goldberg's book travels from Long Island to Afghanistan as he struggles to understand Israeli-Palestinian violence. His honesty is itself high recommendation; the book is also marked by beautiful turns of phrase and a forthrightness that saves it from occasional self-importance. Some readers will argue with some of Goldberg's assertions (such as his reading of Israel's offer to Arafat at Camp David), and the author's halting recognition of the role despair plays in shaping Palestinian thought. Like the warring nationalisms it presents, his book is complex and deeply affecting. (Oct. 9)
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*Starred Review* With the Middle East ablaze again, a lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems more distant than ever. So this timely and hopeful memoir reminds us that decent men of goodwill can strive to bridge even the widest gulf. Goldberg is an American-born Jew raised in a liberal, nonobservant family. He "discovered" Zionism in adolescence and immigrated to Israel as a young man. He had romantic dreams of fighting to defend the Jewish homeland. Instead, he spent his military service as a prison guard at Ketziot, a bleak desert jail where Palestinians, many who fought in the first Intifada, were warehoused. Goldberg provides incisive observations of various aspects of Israeli and Palestinian societies, including the decline of the kibbutz movement, ideological divisions between Fatah and Hamas, and, of course, the grinding monotony (for both guards and prisoners) of prison life. But the core of this story is Goldberg's evolving friendship with a prisoner named Rafiq.^B At first, they reach out warily toward each other, but the genuine warmth and affection that grow surprise and even unsettle them. Their friendship endures, even after Rafiq is released and returns to the political hothouse of Gaza while Goldberg becomes a journalist. Goldberg has no illusions that he and his friend, working at the "subatomic" level, have solved seemingly intractable larger problems, but his poignant account offers the possibility of reconciliation. Jay FreemanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved