REPORTING FROM RAMALLAH: An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land

Amira Hass, Author, Rachel Leah Jones, Foreword by . MIT $14.95 (209p) ISBN 978-1-58435-019-4

Hass, a Jewish Israeli journalist for the newspaper Ha'aretz, has chosen to live on the West Bank—and her intimate knowledge of the plight of the Palestinians illuminates this book. Culled from her dispatches during the past five years, these pieces offer a three-dimensional portrait of the daily experiences of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation. The early pieces, written while serious peace talks were being conducted in the late '90s, shows the roots of the current violence: most notably, Palestinians' frustration that the Oslo peace accords hadn't produced many tangible results. As Hass presciently wrote: "The distance from here to private and collective acts of despair is not great." As the book wends its way through the outbreak of violence in September 2000, that despair is increasingly on display. Her pieces illustrate how Palestinian frustration—over detentions, house demolitions, a life so riddled with restrictions that "hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are criminals or potential criminals"—erupted into suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism. But what distinguishes this book is its emphasis on the personal—and how the conflict has created a logic that has driven both sides to violence. In an in-depth interview, an Israeli sharpshooter discusses the rules of when to open fire ("Every day, the regulations... change"). Members of Palestinian society discuss the difficulty of keeping children healthy and educated under the pressures of violence and occupation. Members of Palestinian terrorist groups discuss what drove them to their acts and the internal rivalries among competing factions. Anyone who wants an in-depth, humanizing portrait of the Palestinians should look no further. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
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