Review by Kirk Farrell
A highschool friend's father used to expound on the theory that there were two kinds of people: the Haves, and the Have-nots. This is certainly true of the Israeli people and of the Palestinian as well. Each has been both, past and present.
David Shipler's book "Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land" does much to explain the generational trauma, the strong hatreds, and the thread of hope that exists in the hearts of each people. Each group tends to radicalize, producing propaganda and wielding violence in a cycle that some fear will never be broken until one side is eliminated. There are people in the Middle East who have exactly this genocide in mind when they speak to their followers.
But radicals are not the whole picture. We have to look close enough to find the moments of reconciliation.
Every good book, and this is a good book, must leave the reader with some kind of hope in their heart. As terrible as the history of Jewish/Arabic interactions is, is cannot be read as a tragedy alone. There are accounts in these books of individuals from both "sides" working hand in hand to bring their land to peace and safety for everyone. The stories from the different hospitals stood out to me, where the ethnically diverse staff is blind to nationality and treats and heals anyone who comes in the doors.
Maybe someday the Arabic phrase "Allah Akbar" will no longer strike fear or hint at terrorism. Maybe it will once again be a message of greeting, of hospitality, of praise and wonder.
Thank you to the publisher for my review copy.