The Israeli-Palestinian conflict began in 1948, which might lead some to believe that there is nothing new to write or read on the subject. Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation proves that assumption wrong.
The courageous, groundbreaking collection of essays reflects the peaceful diversity it wishes to see in the world. Edited by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Michael Chabon and his wife, Israeli-born novelist and essayist Ayelet Waldman, the book assembles contributors from all literary walks of life: from Colum McCann to Jacqueline Woodson, Geraldine Brooks to Dave Eggers, Hari Kunzru to Mario Vargas Llosa. They are writers from every continent, of all ages, of eight mother tongues. Some identify as Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Hindu, and some have no religious affiliation. Some had never visited Israel before, and most had never been into the occupied territories. All these writers were asked to do was, simply, pay attention.
The portrait they paint is too compelling to look away from.
There’s no two ways about it: Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation has a strong perspective. It was in part created by Breaking the Silence, a nonprofit organization composed of former Israeli soldiers who have come to oppose the occupation and strive to bring it to an end. The perceptive, personal essays reflect the gamut of life in Palestine-Israel. The portrait they paint is too compelling to look away from: What it is to live and work there — the daily frustrations and indignities of multiple checkpoints, the constant fear of arrest or worse.
In one essay, “Love in the Time of Qalandiya,” a reference to another novel birthed during a time of turmoil, death and tragedy, Taiye Selasi explores the possibility of Palestinian-Israeli love, taking Palestine’s national poet Mahmoud Darwish as her inspiration. Selasi visits nightclubs in Ramallah, mingling with the young, looking for and finding the rule breakers. She writes: “These are women after my own heart. They like to flirt, to drink, to smoke, they tell me, laughing. They like sex.” But one behavior for these liberated women is simply out of the question. “Would you date a Jewish man? No, never.” It becomes clear that this is not necessarily because the young have “drunk the Kool-Aid, accepting the purported otherness of their neighbors”; it is simply because the system, the “legal and logistical barriers,” are impossibly high.
But sometimes, as this collection deftly explores, these differences can be surmounted. The highlight for me is McCann’s extraordinary piece, “Two Stories, So Many Stories.” In it he records a meeting with two middle-aged men in Beit Jala: One is a Jew, the other a Muslim. Both are bereaved fathers who have forged an alliance out of their mutual grief. The Muslim man cuts through to a courageous argument; he refuses to be pro-Israeli or pro-Palestinian. He says of others: “I demand of them to be pro-peace, to be against injustice, and against this ongoing situation in which one people is dominating another.”
These are all stories of separation, from one’s own fields, family, place of work and worship. As McCann says, they can “pry open our rib cages and twist our hearts backwards a notch. They can aim a punch at the back of your brain.” The going can be hard, the material often tragic. Desperate and repeated themes mirror the seemingly intractable situation in Palestine-Israel. But these are real human tales from behind the borders. What better way to be educated and enlightened than through the words of some of the world’s greatest writers?
Isabel Duffy spent more than 10 years working in the publishing industry in the U.K. before moving to San Francisco, where she interviewed many authors on stage for City Arts and Lectures. She has contributed to The Believer and recently trained as a psychotherapist.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is of current importance and interest because, although it was solved, there is a great probability that it may break out again. It was very difficult to achieve peace in this conflict because the problem was not only in the current political situation and relations between Palestine and Israel nowadays, the root of the conflict is in distant past. There are two ethnical groups â Israelis and Palestinians â and they are fighting for the same geographical territory. Both these groups have deep roots on this territory, they can present a lot of arguments to prove that this area belongs to them. These arguments are reasonable from both sides, they have historical and religious basement. The question is: who is right here and how to solve this conflict?
United States approaches the Middle East conflict pragmatically. This country tries to get profit from this conflict and promotes its own interests. U.S. wants to see stability in the Middle East regions and put a lot of efforts to guarantee it. There are several reasons of such U.S. policy. âU.S. foreign policy has therefore been based upon four cornerstones: the preservation of a continued flow of large quantities of cheap Gulf oil; the protection of the State of Israel; the containment of Communism as introduced by foreign powers (the Soviet Union in past years); and the curbing of movements potentially threatening stability, especially Islamic fundamentalism and (historically) radical leftist ideologyâ (Hassassian). So, the U.S. policy can be characterized by the factors mentioned above. Foreign policy of the U.S. is greatly determined by its internal policy. America is a democratic country where minorities play an essential role in determining the state policy. In addition Jewish community in the U.S. is very influential. It has great political influence and has prominent charity organizations. That is why Jewish community plays an important role in determining American foreign policy. More than 40 percent of the world oil resources are situated in the Middle East and that is one of the reason of Americaâs steadfast interest to the conflict between Israel and Palestine. The United States has supported and protected Israel since its foundation. In addition it invested money to the growth and development of this country. Since the period of its foundation, Israel has received about $140 billion from the United States. This figure is several times higher than support any other country has ever received. Such an amount of money is partially explained by great influence of pro-Israel Jewish community. Another more pragmatic reason is a good strategic location of Israel. It is situated at the doorway to Asia and good relations between the U.S. and Israel guarantee the U.S. free access to the Suez Canal. The confrontation with Communist regimes and the division of the sphere of influence is another reason of the active participation of the United State in the conflict. âWith the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989, the United States was able to impose unthreatened hegemony in the region, a privilege never before seen in world history. Such domination of the incredible resources of the Gulf in many ways means the United States can do what it wants. This results in an American arrogance and a readiness to destroy all possible threats to its hegemonyâ (Hassassian). The United States officially took part in the negotiation between Israel and Palestine and approved the policy of âland for peaceâ. But in reality it never stopped financial, military and moral support of Israel. Arafat agreed with the concepts proposed by EU because it was based on the resolutions 242 and 338 of the United Nations and was based on the âland for peace policyâ. At the same time Israel ignores commitments made in Oslo feeling the support of the United States and breaks U.N. resolutions feeling the support of the U.S. âSince the signing of Oslo, Israel has expropriated more land for settlement building than during any other time in history. Over 50 percent of the West Bank and 35 percent of Gaza are now reserved for settlements, leaving the Palestinian Authority in charge of aâ¢ meager 3 percentâ (Hassassian). At the same time, U.S. who officially proclaims the policy of equal attitudes and stands for the peace in the region, shows no discontent with the actions of Israel. Moreover, official figures of the US policy express ideas, that Palestine should lower its expectations concerning the conflict resolutions and keep silence about the agreement made between Israel and Palestine earlier.
The United States and European countries are active participants of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US foreign secretary is an active member of most conferences that were devoted to this problem. In my opinion, European countries and the United States pay too much attention to this conflict and interfere in it. Only these two nations all in all can solve it, because it isnât an economic or political conflict, itâs religious conflict, conflict of interests and only people of this religion can find the solution. Of course, other countries should do everything to help Palestinians and Israelis to solve this conflict without war and blood. In no way other countries must try to use this conflict in their own selfish ends, it will only complicate the situation and lead to war, all in all.
1. Chopra, J. Planning Considerations for International Involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Working Report of Track IiI negotiations. Unpublished, 2004.
2. Hassassian Maunuel. U.S. National Interests in the Middle East/ The U.S.A. and The ConflictVol.4 Nos. 3 & 4 1997.
3. Newman, D., “Citizenship, identity and location: the changing discourse of Israeli geopolitics”. In: K. Dodds & D. Atkinson (Eds.) Geopolitical Traditions: A Century of Geopolitical Thought. London:Routledge, 2000. pp.: 302-331.
4. Newman, D., and Yacobi, H,. The EU and the Israel\Palestuine Conflict: An Ambivalent Rlaltionship. EUBORDERCONF Workling Paper No. 4, 2004.
If you are looking for a reliable professional writing service, Professay.com writing team is always at your disposal to prepare the original essay for you which will meet all your requirements. You are welcome to order essay online for reasonable price.
Posted in Essay Examples Tags: Politics