All sides of a trou­bled story

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

into the heads of peo­ple with whom he would nec­es­sar­ily dis­agree to con­sider their point of view, his lat­est book deploys that to daz­zling jour­nal­is­tic ef­fect.

He spent 18 months trav­el­ling through the oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries speak­ing with Arabs and Jews, Jewish set­tlers and Pales­tinian ac­tivists, the young and the old, ex­trem­ists and paci­fists, left and right. His Ara­bic is me­diocre and English was of­ten the lin­gua franca. What he did best in that time was listen. Re­ally listen. He doesn’t re­hearse cliches or of­fer solutions.

One of his most cer­tain con­clu­sions, how­ever, is that the root of the trou­bles does not go back to 1967, when Si­nai, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights and the Old City of Jerusalem were oc­cu­pied dur­ing the Six-Day War. Peo­ple on the mod­er­ate left and right in Is­rael, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and Fatah em­pha­sise this date.

For Baram, how­ever, it goes back to the be­gin­ning: to the 1948 war that re­sulted in the dis­place­ment of 700,000 Pales­tini­ans and es­tab­lished Is­rael as a sov­er­eign state.

This is the date Is­rael’s far right and far left, as well as most Pales­tini­ans, recog­nise. Pales­tini­ans call it the Nakba, the “catas­tro­phe” in Ara­bic. Ev­ery year since 1998, when Yasser Arafat de­clared the date, it has been com­mem­o­rated solemnly on May 15.

Early on, Baram speaks to a vet­eran Palest-

Pales­tinian chil­dren in the Is­rae­lioc­cu­pied West Bank look to­wards the Jewish set­tle­ment of Dolev

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