Conflict & Justice

Book reviews

CM explains that "Khirbet Khizeh" is a soldier's eye account of an Israeli operation against a single village during Israel's bloody birth: from the beginning the soldiers wonder if it's right to be advancing on this village. The soldiers at first take the village without any problem and then they're packing these old people and children onto trucks and carting them away. And then the narrator comes to the realization there's something deeply wrong with this situation. (And he realizes this is exile and the narrator faces this paradox that in order to return from exile, the Jews are forcing others into exile. What distinguishes this book from others that you've read about the War of Independence?) For one thing, it's short, it's a self-contained narrative. We get a chance to be in the soldiers' head. What another soldier asks about is what we've done, the costs and benefits of independence. (And the author believed in the State of Israel.) With all his heart, he was a member of parliament but at the same time he worried about what his country was doing to the Palestinian people. (I want to talk also about �Palestinian Walks� which won the 2008 Orwell prize for political writing. This comes from the other side. This book is about the loss among the expelled, it's not fiction, it's a memoir. Why did you choose to pair this book with "Khirbet Khizeh�?) This is the book from the other side: what happens when the land starts to be occupied, building settlements, then roads to connect the settlements, then the security wall to protect Israel from Palestinian suicide bombers�what are the concrete effects? He recounts six walks he's taken over the last 25 years through the West Bank and he chronicles the changes in the West Bank: he can't go near this settlement, or this place where Hamas and Fatah might fight it out. He understands this is a deeply political story. (In the last chapter, the author meets a young Israeli from one of the settlements and it's a very moving scene.) Yes he comes across a young settler who has his rifle and who is preparing a bowl of hashish to smoke and they have a contentious discussion about who has the right to this land. and by the end the man has lost his hat in a stream and the settler has a moment where he can grab the hat but he would also be too far away from his rifle. He makes that split second decision to grab the hat and they make the decision to smoke the bowl of hash together. It's a moment outside of time and outside of their senses where they recognize they both have a deep connection to this land.

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