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Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine Paperback – April 29, 2003


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142002933
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142002933
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #879,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

alestinian perspectives on the Middle East conflict don't often reach the West and today they are more relevant than ever. In this fascinating memoir, leading Palestinian lawyer Shehadeh offers a chilling and moving view of life inside the Occupied Territories. He was born into a prominent family around the time of Israel's establishment in 1948. As Shehadeh recounts his relationship with his parents, his first love, intellectual experiments in college, world travels, law career and human rights work, his struggles under Israeli occupation distinguish his story. Shehadeh names his father, Aziz, also a prominent attorney, as the first Palestinian in the late 1960s to advocate recognizing Israel and adopting a peaceful two-state solution. The author gives a gripping narrative regarding Aziz's murder and the Israeli authorities' sluggish investigation; it's widely assumed that Aziz's killer was a Palestinian who disapproved of his willingness to compromise with Israel. More broadly, Shehadeh deftly renders the Israeli government's systematic harassment and humiliation of the Palestinians, ranging from constant surveillance at checkpoints to random searches in homes and offices. Such situations, Shehadeh makes clear, account for the powerlessness, frustration and anger experienced by most Palestinians. His deliberate analysis of the expansion of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories, a major obstacle to the peace process, is especially intriguing. The author argues that these settlements are illegal under international law, but have slowly and surely been aligned with Israeli legal statutes. Anyone seeking a nuanced view of Palestinian experience should read this brave and lyrical book. B&w photos.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In this autobiography of a Palestinian living in Israel, Shehadeh, a lawyer and founder of Al-Haq, an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, reminisces about growing up "in the shadow of home" and coming to terms with the political situation in which he was born. It wasn't until he was an adult that he finally understood the work of his father, Aziz, an early advocate of the two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict who was murdered in 1985. In a strong voice that is without diatribe, melodrama, or anger, Shehadeh describes the uncertainties of life during a period of national difficulty. Readers will get a glimpse into the emotional and political turmoil of the region and possibly form a better understanding of the troubles in the Middle East. This book also shares the insight of one man's journey and the maturity that allowed him to see his life in context. Recommended for public and academic libraries with Middle Eastern collections or biography collections that extend beyond the famous. Naomi Hafter, Enoch Pratt Free Lib., Baltimore, MD

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 18 customer reviews
Hope that a decent life will be able to be lived.
Matthew Smith
This book should be considered required reading for anyone seeking to understand the current Palestinian - Israeli conflict.
Peter Lubetsky
This book was assigned reading for a class of mine, but I am extremely glad that I read it.
J Dozier

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By ex nihilo on September 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
I was at first taken aback by the way Palestinian lawyer and writer Raja Shehadeh chose to begin this book, his memoir. Knowing that he is a very important figure in Palestine, I expected (even half-dreaded) a right-on plunge in the middle of Israeli/Middle-Eastern politics. I was wrong.

Although he begins by mentioning the 1948 war as a fact that explains his having been born in Ramallah and not Jaffa, where his family was very important, that's just about it.....in the beginning. We are treated then to a delicately rendered description of the writer's childhood: to a vision of the almost sad figure of a fragile child whose life seems always measured against the looming and powerful figure of his father (a very important Palestinian lawyer), and the impossible to reach lights and colours of neverland-Jaffa, the way of life that the family had lost forever.

It is the relationship with the father, however, what soon becomes the focus of this memoir. And here we must admire one of the most important aspects of the book: an honest-to-God account of how this boy, then young man, then adult, managed his growing, changing relationship with a strong and powerful father. I was swept from my feet at having such a first hand description of a never-easy son/father relationship. I must confess I was astounded that this incredibly sincere testimony was rendered by an Arab man since, as the same author acknowledges, his is a culture where the son/father bond tends to be quite distant, formal and formidable.

We, readers, see how having such an important father proves to be a load, but also a challenge for the author.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J Dozier on February 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book was assigned reading for a class of mine, but I am extremely glad that I read it. At first, it seems to be merely Raja's autobiography, but it is much more than that. Strangers in the House is described in the foreward as being "not a political book," but at the same time "in a hundred different ways it is political." A strong message about what should be done to solve and end the Palestine-Israeli conflict is presented through Raja's story of his life.
Since his views on what should happen contrast so sharply with those of his father, Aziz, it was difficult for him to grow up and not argue incessantly with his parents. Somehow me managed to look at his situation logically, and has maintained his individuality in the world. By fighting for human rights and trying to enfore the real estate laws which are broken by the Israelis, Raja is trying his hardest to change the world and better everyone's lives in the Middle East.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone with any desire to learn about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, as well as to anyone who tries to keep one eye open to the state of our world today.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Anna Fudge on July 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
As an American, I have grown up to believe that Israel is a close friend to us. I would imagine that an ally of the United States would be a country that follows human rights guidelines. However, I was mistaken. "Strangers in the House" is a brilliantly written piece which provides personal experiences in an occupied Palestine. With all of the conflict in the Middle East currently, it is a must-read, to understand the viewpoint from all angles. Raja Shehadeh thinks way past his time, as his father had. He has written this book for the world to know what daily life is like under occupation and that it is a constant struggle. Mr. Shehadeh is admirable in his open-mindedness. If you would like to see the viewpoint from the other side, this book is perfect. It will help you open your mind and see the truth.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Bill Colohan on March 7, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author effectively tells the Palestinian-Israeli story from a civilian's perspective. Too often in war we forget about the innocent bystanders in a conflict. Most of the time the vast majority of people living in an area, caught up in a war, are just trying to live and raise a family. Shehadeh helps us understand that the vast majority of Palestinians are trying to do just that, but they can't since they have been displaced. Heart-wrenching.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Peter Lubetsky on May 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book should be considered required reading for anyone seeking to understand the current Palestinian - Israeli conflict. Shehadeh provides a very personal view of the reality of growing up in the occupied West Bank. Best of all, he pulls no punches - against Israel or his fellow Palestinians.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Space on March 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
A great book showing the struggles that the Palestinians go through in their every day life in Palestine. How Israel was able to find herself a home out of no where, claim it and get all the support to stay.
The book tells how things even got worse by the arabs who kept on waiting to get involved, how all the dreams were only on paper, and how only talking about solutions and victory has to be followed by actions.
It also demonstrates how the Palestinains themselves did not have a great vision from the beginning, and how with time they have lost everything they believed they will get back. Now they find themselves in a worse situation than they were almost 40 years ago, when they only wanted to fight back against an enemy who is much more prepared, and recognized in the world.
One more aspect the book shows is how emotional people can be, not wanting to hear what is the truth, and how that can lead to a very sad and unjustified crime.
Beautifully written, not another history book, Shahadeh takes you through his daily struggle in the area, with his father, society, and himself to give you the best and cleares picture.
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