WHEN THE BIRDS STOPPED SINGING: Life in Ramallah Under Siege

Raja Shehadeh, Author . Steerforth $12.95 (160p) ISBN 978-1-58642-069-7

This short, powerful book should be required reading for anyone who has ever wondered what it's like to be an ordinary citizen living in a war zone. Shehadeh's view of the volatile Israeli-Palestinian conflict is certainly not neutral, dealing with his emotions and experiences during Israel's incursion into his West Bank city during the spring of 2002. It is, however, remarkably balanced for a man in his situation. Under curfew and trapped in his home, Shehadeh, a lawyer, writer and human rights activist (Strangers in the House), concentrates on conserving his food supply, distracting himself with his legal work, trying not to wonder when his wife, who is out of the country, will be able to get home, and trying not to be angry. "I've learned how to create small spaces of my own in which to live," he writes. "I'm continuing to exercise for half an hour by vigorously walking around the courtyard with appropriate music blasting. Today it was Shostakovich quintets." Intermingled with his rage at Israel's right-wing government and at the Arab world, which expresses sympathy with the Palestinian plight while treating it as little more than a reality TV show, is the realization that something has to change. "The Israelis are being hit and have casualties and our life has been brought to a standstill. We are killing each other. We have to stop. This is what is important, not what the outside world thinks." (Sept. 1)

Reviewed on: 08/04/2003
Release date: 08/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 92 pages - 978-1-58642-212-7
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