Violence in the Holy Land: Witnessing the Conflict in the Middle East

An anthology of stories and essays written primarily by Israeli Jews and Palestinians. Developed for the most part in writing workshops at Riverside Church in Manhattan and at the Puffin Foundation in Teaneck, New Jersey, Violence in the Holy Land has contributions by twenty-four men and
women.

Arranged in dialogue form, it opens with a fairy tale, a dream of peace between two families, Arab and Jewish, over four generations. Thereafter Israeli and Palestinian stories alternate, expressing multiple perspectives from both sides, culminating in an essay by the leader of a New York dialogue group. Like the dialogue groups, the book’s purpose is to allow the two sides the opportunity to listen to each other, to begin the process of understanding.

Read four essays from Violence in the Holy Land.

Advance praise for Violence in the Holy Land:

These fresh and compelling personal statements by Israeli, Palestinian participants in and witnesses to a tragic conflict help us understand the hopes and fears of two suffering people, both victims of history. Violence in the Holy Land helps us transcend the mythology and partisanship that obscure this struggle and to empathize with human beings on both sides. Without sympathy and respect for both, we Americans cannot play our role as peacemaker.
-- Ambassador (ret.) Philip C. Wilcox, Jr., President, Foundation for Middle East Peace

Get beyond all the polarizing rhetoric and you will find two peoples, both filled with the normal range of complex beings--some so filled with anger and fear that they cannot see the humanity of the Ĺ’other, some still retaining their humanity. Violence in the Holy Land brings us into the consciousness of ordinary people on both sides of the Middle East struggle, humanizes them, and helps us understand more deeply than any abstract analysis could. It is the perfect answer to the question often posed about both sides: "What could they be thinking?" Read it and you will understand.
-- Rabbi Michael Lerner; Editor, Tikkun Magazine; Author: Healing Israel/Palestine

Vignette after vignette bear witness that freedom from fear is the common yearning binding all humanity together. These stories make both sides real, and hold out the possibility for dialogue that may bring about a hopeful tomorrow. The book is am amazingly uplifting text, even with so much tragedy; a testament to the human spirit.
Rev. Fanny Erickson, Minister of Parish Life and Director, Health and Wellness Ministries, The Riverside Church, New YorkMi "A gripping account of the humanity and complexity of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict which guides the reader through a painful, passionate journey no media camera has ever fully traveled: Into the collective heart of the matter. The graceful, raw honesty of this powerful collection inspires the reader to act immediately; to become part of a solution."
-- Forsan Hussein, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Shalam

Read four essays from Violence in the Holy Land.

Excerpts from Violence in the Holy Land:

From ‘Can We Find One Another?’
by Helen Pincus


Why couldn't they just leave that little tiny sliver of Israel, filled with broken Jews who had survived the Holocaust? How dangerous was this U.N. mandated state that would shelter the remnants of my people? Why did the Arab countries start the war that created the refugee problem? Why did they leave the refugees in those miserable camps while squandering millions of dollars of humanitarian aid on weapons?

from: “Dying on the Side of the Palestinians”
by Ramzy Baroud

My grandpa believed that being a Palestinian was a blessing. “You cannot be entrusted to defend a more virtuous cause than the cause of Palestine, unless Allah has blessed you greatly,“ he once told me.

I often wondered what kept the old man going. He lost his home and the pride of his life, his land, and was forced at gunpoint to haul his family away and leave the village of Beit Daras where they once lived happily. He spent the rest of his life, getting old and tired in a refugee camp, for many years in a tent, then in a mud house subsidized by the United Nations. He died there, next to a transistor radio.

from: “Left, Right, or Center?”
by Sonie Lasker

There are some who say that we are living on conquered land, that half of Israel doesn’t belong to us, and should be “given back.” But should America give California back to Mexico? And should Mexico give it back to Spain, and
should Spain, in turn, give it to the Native Americans? Should we return our entire country to the Native American people? Do we know for sure which part of the Soviet Union was once Poland or the Ukraine? Shouldn’t we look in our
own backyard before condemning Israel, only because it is in the news? If what is won in war is considered to be part of the country that won it, why must it be different for Israel?

from: "Tahseen Darweesh”
by Ramsey Abdallah

One day, as they had been doing their military rounds through the villages, the Israeli police picked Tahseen up as he was coming home from work. Tahseen went missing for three days before he was brought back home, dead. He looked like nothing of what we remembered. He was destroyed. His once beautiful aura and appeal were no longer. His eyes were gauged out; his arms were broken in five places. There were cigarette burns on his neck, arms,
and back. His neck was blown up three times its normal size, which found to be caused by a pair of denim jeans that had been forced down his throat. His wrists were cut to the bone with the wire ties that had been used to restrain him. It looked as if though he had been trying to escape from them.
His legs were tenderized like veal from the butts of rifles. The Israelis did not return the body to Tahseen’s house; they left it in the middle of the street.

from: “Creating Dialogue: Hearing the Other”
by Marcia Kannry

The Palestinians are beginning to feel the deep Jewish fear; at first they did not understand what 2,400 years of diaspora has done to the Jewish soul.

I explain the Israeli-Palestinian situation with the image of a young man or woman with a strong body, looking over her shoulder while her foot is raised above another person, saying, “You killed me, you killed me.” Meanwhile the person on the ground is saying, “I will make you a victim.” And the standing Jew keeps saying, “Tell me I’m a victim.”


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