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Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories [Updated & Revised]

4.3 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1594513077
ISBN-10: 1594513074
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Editorial Reviews


Even those familiar with the grim reality of the occupied territories will quickly be drawn into a world they had barely imagined by these vivid, searingly honest, intensely acute portrayals of unflagging courage, wanton cruelty, and enduring faith that through non-violent resistance fundamental decency will somehow prevail an outcome that lies very much in our hands. I cannot find words to express my admiration for the solidarity workers and peacemakers, international and Israeli, and the people of Palestine whom they are supporting in their struggles to survive and to overcome. --Noam Chomsky

With photos, maps and exquisite prose, Anna Baltzer s memoir transports readers into the unfathomable reality of occupation, while inspiring hope for the future of Palestine. Baltzer s dedication and steadfast commitment are evident in the breadth of her encounters with various forms of the Occupation. From settlement violence and wanton arrests of young men to environmental destruction, she interweaves her personal chronicles with astute analysis of the larger context in which these assaults are taking place. Her profound and penetrating insight offers an important and timely perspective on the role internationals have in Palestine s struggle. --Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, Palestinian physician, nonviolence activist, and presidential candidate

Anna Baltzer is among the most remarkable people I ve had the good fortune to meet while writing and speaking on the Israel-Palestine conflict. She s smart, she s genuine and she s indefatigable. Her personal odyssey of discovery and commitment chronicled in Witness in Palestine is also the story of many young Jews who now find it impossible to defend the indefensible in Israel and Palestine. This honest, engaging and at times provocative memoir is a call to action for us all at a time when it is more critical than ever to end the occupation and Israeli impunity. --Norman Finkelstein

Anna Baltzer has endeavored to know and understand the suffering of Palestinians under occupation, and the fear of Israelis in search of security. Her conclusions are for individuals to debate, but the essential truth of her journey cannot be denied.  - Congressman Keith Ellison, U.S. Representative


Perhaps the most comprehensive and accessible in-print collection of an international’s experience in the West Bank, Witness in Palestine combines Baltzer’s compelling first-hand accounts with her prolific photography, maps, and detail. An essential resource that documents her experiences between 2003 and 2007, made more powerful by her own narrative as a Jewish-American.  - American Educational Trust Book Club


Scores of beautiful and heartbreaking color photographs accompany Baltzer’s lively and detailed journal entries, which take the reader through the hardship and horror of the occupation… Baltzer also writes with respect and admiration for the Palestinians who practice nonviolent direct action every day of their lives. Further, she candidly details several encounters she has with Israeli soldiers, at times remaining calm and at others becoming infuriated by their words and actions. Baltzer herself exhibits commendable courage in choosing to walk with Palestinians in difficult and even life-threatening situations, including nonviolent demonstrations against the separation wall. In addition to her reports on the day-to-day life of an activist in Palestine, Baltzer writes on broader issues such as nonviolence and Zionism.  - University of California Press, Caliber Journal

To read Anna Baltzer's searching, passionate, intelligent memoir is to understand the occupation of Palestine—it is to experience its resonance back to the generation of the Nakba and forward to today's growing movement of nonviolent resistance. You meet the people she has met—loving, stirring portraits of mothers, fathers, farmers, activists—all warriors for peace. To accept Baltzer's invitation to accompany her on this journey is to be challenged, enriched, and changed forever.  - Mark Braverman, author of Fatal Embrace: Christians, Jews, and the Search for Peace in the Holy Land

Anna Baltzer's groundbreaking book, Witness in Palestine, is one of the most comprehensive, moving and informative accounts of daily life for Palestinians living under the Israeli Occupation.  With vivid photographs to complement her riveting text, Baltzer's outstanding and handsomely-produced book is a must-read for anyone who wants to know what is really going on in the Holy Land.  - Professor Kenneth Ring, editor of Letters from Palestine


Anna Baltzer makes the bitter medicine of truth more palatable for an audience not accustomed to it, while adhering to as accurate an account of reality as possible. Baltzer is a true gem for the growing Palestine solidarity movement in the U.S.  - Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement


Eloquent, sincere and powerful.  - Dr. Salman Abu Sitta, former member of the Palestinian National Council and founder of the Palestine Land Society


Baltzer has a true passion to educate and act for justice in Palestine.  - Ali Abunimah, author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse


Anna Baltzer's Witness in Palestine is a profoundly solemn and courageous work. In clear-eyed, riveting prose and photos, she reveals both the unrelenting oppressions that Palestinians continue to endure under occupation and their implacable resistance to dehumanization. Seeing Palestine through Baltzer's eyes should move us all to follow her example: to join the international struggle to end Israel's occupation and ensure justice for all.  - Robin D. G. Kelley, UCLA professor and author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination

Whether you have been to Palestine or watched the reality from afar, this book is a must-read. It is deeply engaged with the suffering of the occupied Palestinians, while at the same time it is an accurate, informative, and incisive report of the reality on the ground. It is more than anything else a humane perspective on the evils that decades of occupation have inflicted on the people of Palestine. Anna's humanity corresponds constantly and movingly with real people in their daily struggle for freedom, dignity, and hope. Whether you are well-versed on the subject or new to it, you cannot allow yourself to skip this compassionate analysis, assisted by invaluable statistics, maps, and facts that make one feel, once more, bewildered by how this monstrosity can still continue today.  - Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian and author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

Anna Baltzer's Witness in Palestine has been a crucial reference work for me for many years. Well-written, thorough, and searingly detailed, its words, maps and photos are an extraordinary resource for learning and teaching about what is happening in Palestine. Entirely rooted in what she has seen with her own eyes, with a deep respect for the reader's process of discovery, it nevertheless blazes with her passion for justice. Through her example, and that of so many courageous Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists that are described in the book, it is also an inspiring call to action.  - Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace

Baltzer's moving and vivid memoir tells the story of the daily struggle along the Wall in the West Bank, with stories and pictures that capture not just the hardships, but also the resilience of the Palestinian people. It also tells the story of courageous internationals like Baltzer, dedicating their time and energy to the struggle of the suffering, who give many of us hope that, with the people of the world working together, justice and peaceful coexistence in Israel/Palestine are possible.  - Tanya Reinhart, Israeli activist and author of Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of ‘48 and The Road Map to Nowhere

By combining a lucid and captivating text with artistic photography, this book draws you into the life of an average Palestinian living under exceptional circumstances of occupation, oppression, and colonization. This vivid account is also a deeply personal story that will inspire you not only to have hope but to actively seek and work for peace and justice.”  - Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, author of Sharing the Land of Canaan and Popular Resistance in Palestine

Anna Baltzer's Witness in Palestine is a firsthand account of the devastating details of Israel's myriad of occupation policies. The severe violations of human rights detailed in this account summon readers to join the movement for change. Along with a compassionate account of Palestinian suffering under policies of dispossession and ethnic cleansing, Baltzer shares her experience of hundreds of acts of nonviolent resistance that provide great hope for change.  - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb, Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence

If you want to know what life is like in the Occupied Territories, read Witness in Palestine! This book is so alive and in-the-moment, do not be surprised if you suddenly find yourself sitting in a home having tea with a Palestinian family or demonstrating for the most basic of human rights against a powerful military. Radiating immense integrity and honesty, this is one of the most informative books ever written on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Numerous photographs add to a truly courageous work. A magnificent achievement that will take you on a journey uniting your thinking mind with your feeling heart!  - Richard Forer, author of Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion — A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict

As Anna Baltzer confronts the reality of the Israeli Occupation on the pages of Witness in Palestine, she is forced to reevaluate the blind allegiance to Israel that is the political orthodoxy of her Jewish American roots. In her steadfast stand for the universal human rights of all people, she serves as an example of how we can work together as one international community to create a shared future of justice and peace for us all.  - Cindy and Craig Corrie, parents of Rachel Corrie

Witness in Palestine is a classic of the western struggle to understand the Israel/Palestine conflict; it has a place on my shelves alongside Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappe, Shlomo Sand, and Avi Shlaim. The greatness of this book is that it offers a pathway to all those who feel overwhelmed by the complications and emotions surrounding the conflict but still want to understand; for they can walk in Baltzer's shoes as she sets out to document Palestinian conditions with patience and devotion and unending compassion. In the process, we get to see Baltzer's transformation from a youthful believer in the virtue of the Jewish state to an intellectual critic of the role of Zionism in Jewish, American, and Palestinian life. When people ask how and why the American conversation on these issues has changed, Baltzer¿s book is a big part of the answer.  - Philip Weiss, journalist and co-editor of Mondoweiss.net

Anna Baltzer epitomizes the most salient qualities of the effective peace-maker: commitment backed up by hard-won analysis; an ability to translate experience ‘on the ground’ into visual imagery and compelling narrative; advocacy based on a deep passion for justice; and, most importantly, an ability to humanize both Palestinian suffering and resistance. Her book, Witness in Palestine, like the rest of her work, is indispensable.  - Jeff Halper, Israeli anthropologist, political activist, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee

About the Author

Anna Baltzer is an award-winning author and organizer, Columbia University graduate, Fulbright scholar, granddaughter of Holocaust refugees, and volunteer with the International Women's Peace Service. Baltzer has appeared on television more than 100 times, including on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and lectured at more than 500 universities, schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, and policy institutes on six continents with her book and film, Life in Occupied Palestine: Eyewitness Stories & Photos.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 436 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594513074
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594513077
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,061,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Anna Baltzer's story should rise loud and clear above today's terrorist grabbing headlines. That of nonviolent resistance and daily hardships of the Palestinian people doing there best to maintain their dignity while living under occupation. Neverending checkpoints, extremist settlers and wall annexation won't stop them from carrying out their daily lives the best they can. The presence of Internationals and Israeli activists make like more bearable and events run more smoothly and peacefully. What is life like for the average Palestinian, Anna describes this very well. A harrowing and necessary read for anyone interestd in equality and peace in the holy land. After reading, I feel ready to pack my bags, go and be an international peace worker in Palestine.
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Format: Paperback
Though I consider myself a Zionist, even having been to Israel, I had no idea how badly the Palestinians were being treated by the Israelis. Anna's eye witness account describes conditions that I have read in no other publication. The Wall, which I applauded as a necessary security device, seems to be used as an Israeli land grab in addition to being a means of harassing the Palestinians. I believe that she's doing us a service with her lectures and her writings. I recommend it.
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Format: Paperback
I just recently attended a lecture by Anna Baltzer on this same issue, and I was absolutely shocked. The information she presented was so alien to what I usually expected (I knew life for the Palestinians was hard, but I really didn't know what that meant). Do not expect a sweeping documentary of the whole situation and conflict - this is HER perspective based on HER experiences. Yes, there are Palestinians who blow themselves up in an attempt to kill Jewish Israelis. But this book isn't about those people - this book is about the hundreds of thousands of regular Palestinian people, people like you and me, who just want to live their lives like anybody else, but are unable.
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Format: Paperback
This book was an eye-opener for me. Like most Americans, I had heard all about Palestinian violence but had no idea how extensive and organized the Palestinian non-violent civil rights movement is. Also, though I had done enough reading to realize that Israel has been unnecessarily brutal to the Palestinians, I was not fully aware of the systematic and daily nature of the violence, extending into every facet of life in occupied Palestine. The ability of so many Palestinians to remain non-violent in the face of the arbitrary and capricious brutality Ms Baltzer has witnessed is remarkable and inspiring.

Ms Baltzer's lucid writing and eye witness perspective shows life under the occupation through a lens that is clear and sharp. She herself is in the middle of the events she chronicles and when she relies on secondary sources, most are people she interviews herself, often within minutes or hours of the events being described. The result is a book that is raw and powerful.

The book is organized chronologically into chapters of a few pages each, describing one day or one event, and illustrated with photos of actual participants on all sides in so much as is possible. Thus it is easy to dip in and out of the book if you please or even to start at the back and read forwards. VERY IMPORTANT: read the appendices! In just 20 pages of appendices, Baltzer packs more useful information about big-picture issues than many entire books on this subject and she articulates issues clearly and cogently (we are dealing with an exceptionally gifted writer here). I found Appendix IV: Myths & Frequently Asked Questions and Appendix V: Quotations from Prominent Figures to be particularly eye opening.
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Format: Paperback
Anna Baltzer was a Jewish American woman who never fully understood what was going on in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Of course, that was until she decided to visit the West Bank and Israel for several months so that she could see the situation for herself. During these months, she visited with many Palestinian families, mostly farmers, who took her in and talked about the situation or life in general.

The best part of the book is that it gives a real sense of who the Palestinians really are by providing individual stories of the people who live there. In reality, the vast majority of Palestinians are humble people with big hearts. They have an overwhelming culture of hospitality. In fact, she gives many examples of people who are very poor that give her plenty of food and shelter throughout her journey while feverishly denying any form of compensation in return.

The book is set up like a diary or journal with a recollection of the events that occurred on any particular day during her travels. I read the hardcover edition which included many phenomenal pictures of her experiences. During her time there, she is a human rights activist and attends several peaceful demonstrations. I will warn you that this book is an emotionally difficult read. I found myself holding back tears at many of the vivid scenes in some of the personal stories.

This is a great book if you really want to know what the Palestinians are going through. As a Palestinian-American college student, I never really knew what was going on over there. I came to the U.S. at the age of six so I'm pretty much American. My grandparents never talked about the subject much because it's probably too painful for them to talk about.
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