No other conflict in the world has dragged on longer, engendered more bitterness or defied more attempts at resolution than the battle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Over the past decade, Greg Myre covered this conflict for the New York Times, and his wife Jennifer Griffin covered it for Fox News, and they arrived at the same surprising conclusion: the conflict cannot be solved anytime soon.
In This Burning Land, they address a fundamental paradox. Israel is stronger than it has been at any time in its history; it has a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and a powerful military that suppressed the most recent Palestinian uprising. Yet, it cannot find a way to end the feud with the Palestinians. In turn, the entire world supports the Palestinian goal of statehood, and yet no such state is likely to emerge any time soon.
Arriving in Jerusalem shortly before the onset of the Palestinian uprising in 2000, Myre and Griffin soon found themselves reporting not on a new peace deal, but on the worst violence in the long history of this feud. They show how the conflict has changed dramatically in recent years as new physical and psychological barriers have gone up between the two sides.
The couple takes us to the heart of the conflict, where few writers have gone before. They delve into the thinking that motivates some Palestinians to be suicide bombers and other Palestinians to work as informants for Israel's security forces. Myre and Griffin travel to isolated West Bank outposts where Israeli settlers vow never to relinquish the land, and accompany Israeli troops as they stage midnight raids in militant strongholds.
Having also spent two decades chasing wars across Africa, Asia, the former Soviet Union, and the Middle East, the authors are students of modern, asymmetrical warfare that has become the norm in today's conflicts. They draw on this experience to offer lessons crucial to understanding the Israeli-Palestinian fighting, and other wars as well.
To cite a few:
Clear, decisive military victories belong to an earlier era, yet elements on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have a stake in keeping the conflict going rather than negotiating a solution.
Controlling the public relations battle is often as important as the actual fighting, and the competing Israeli and Palestinian narratives continue to diverge in societies that are ever more segregated from one another.
Actions that seem completely irrational to outsiders often make perfect sense to the participants. Extremism can become a virtue; moderation a vice. Despite the heavy suffering on both sides, many Israelis and Palestinians are prepared to make continued sacrifices in the belief they will ultimately triumph.
Myre and Griffin demonstrate an anthropologist's feel for the hidden sides of Palestinian and Israeli culture, a historian's understanding of the larger forces at work, and a novelist's ear for telling the stories that bring it all together. The broader lessons in This Burning Land will help inform the debate in the Middle East for years to come.
"A stunning piece of nonfiction about the tortured and heartbreaking stalemate in the Middle East. This is a brilliant booksuperbly written and devastatingly insightful. The fact that they raised two little girls while reporting this story makes every explosion, every riot, every checkpoint especially upsetting. I don't know how they did it."Sebastian Junger, author of War
"Myre and Griffin have written an extraordinary storypersonal yet hard-hittingthat takes you inside the world of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the hopes and fears that drive it. There are no punches pulled here. A must-read for anyone who prefers Middle East reality over fantasy."Aaron David Miller, author of The Much Too Promised Land: America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace
"This Burning Land is what you get when you unleash two excellent reporters on one of the world's most compelling stories. With eloquence, insight, and a real sense of urgency, Greg Myre and Jennifer Griffin bring to life places like Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during a time of siege and chaos. Even if you disagree with their conclusions, you will be swept up in their story of tragedy and hope."Jeffrey Goldberg, author of Prisoners: A Story of Friendship and Terror
"Superbly written and devastatingly insightful." Sebastian Junger, author of WarSee all Editorial Reviews
Good perspective. Is not bias. They try to give both sides views and define the problems.Published 7 months ago by Kay Young
Even though this book is a few years old, the information is still applicable to today. A very interesting look at every day living with Jewish and Palestinian people. Read morePublished on December 20, 2012 by Doodygram
Jennifer Griffin outdid herself in writing this book. With extensive personal experience gained from living in the area, she offers a very valuable perspective. Read morePublished on September 1, 2012 by Robert V. Rose, retired education researcher
Yes- embeds- the Myres, Fox and Pentagon employees- discussed their book on c-span this week (4/7) and came across as glib boosters for American military violence. Read morePublished on April 7, 2012 by moby pablo
The co-author of this book works for National Palestinian Radio [NPR} which has a severe anti-Israel bias and, thus, this book isn't worth the paper it's written on. Read morePublished on April 20, 2011 by Kitchen Magician