All sides of a troubled story
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