Some Palestinians you should meet – my latest on Open Zion.

My every-other-week column at The Daily Beast’s Open Zion is now up!

Many Israeli and American Jews hold strong opinions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We study it, attend conferences, and are often told to expect only violence from the Palestinian side—yet there’s one thing many of us have never done:

Met a Palestinian.

On a very practical level, this is perhaps understandable: For some, there’s an ocean to be crossed; for others, walls and barbed wire. Possibly more difficult to cross are decades of fear and mistrust.

Yet it cannot be argued that human conflict is best resolved in the absence of information. Whatever one might think about this long war, surely Jews would be served by greater familiarity with the people on the other side of it

Memoirs offer a small but powerful way to begin to bridge the gap, allowing a kind of intimacy between reader and writer that’s otherwise hard to find, and in the week in which Nakba Day was commemorated, it seems more appropriate to recommend the works of Palestinians speaking for themselves:

One such memoir is The Hour of Sunlight: One Palestinian’s Journey from Prisoner to Peacemaker, by Sami Al Jundi and Jen Marlowe, the remarkable tale of a wannabe terrorist turned coexistence activist….

You know the drill: Please click through to read the rest!

And, BTW, you really should be reading Open Zion on the regular – there’s good stuff going on there, my friends. If you’re on Twitter, you can follow us at @open_zion, and if you’re on the Book of Faces (a thing I hear is quite popular with the kids), we have a page: http://www.facebook.com/OpenZion

7 Comments

  1. carlosthedwarf

     /  May 19, 2012

    Emily, this is fantastic! (As usual, of course.) I wish there were a program that brought Palestinian peace activists to Jewish communities around the world for extended residencies. I think it would really help break down some of the barriers to peace on both sides.

    • Thanks! It’s like Beinart says in the book: Mostly American Jews have evaded the issues raised by the occupation by evading Palestinians….

    • PS For some reason, I just saw your email from a week and a half ago! We’ll keep the conversation going, for sure.

  2. Darth Thulhu

     /  May 20, 2012

    I commented over there, and tried to quickly deflate one of your trolls over there.

    I have to confess that I was really disappointed when comments opened up over there. I don’t know if there is any real moderating going on, but the comments increasingly feel like they need banhammers swung. People just constantly start trolling off-topic and try to change the subject to some particular instance of Palestinian jerkery. Sad and tiresome.

    • I’m not sure what the moderation situation is, myself. I peeked at comments one day, saw & reported a comparison of Gaza to the Warsaw Ghetto, and haven’t looked again.

      No wait – I did, & saw something snarky, and just went: Not looking. Ever. At all.

      So thank you for taking on a troll for me – you are a true and loyal friend! I think I’ll pass your worry on to the folks at the helm, but of course that will involve admitting that I refuse to look at the comments myself, so that’ll be odd. Oh well. There’s a reason I don’t look, and it’s a dang good one.

      • Darth Thulhu

         /  May 22, 2012

        Yeah. If they would empower *you* to moderate and ban people, that would be one thing. But opening comments to your posts without giving you any capacity to control the commentariat is a recipe for comments failure.

        • Well, in their defense: Open Zion has a separate editorial staff from The Daily Beast, which amounts to three people (one of whom is selling a book and teaching at CUNY and writing for other outlets, too) + a new moderator. My understanding is that they’re trying to get the moderating thing down, and have in recent days started swinging a heavier ban hammer – but as you say, since I have no control over it, I can’t bear to watch it play itself out.

          I watch Peter Beinart himself take the most incredible amount of vitriol in his stride and honest to God, Darth, all I can think is that he’s made of entirely different stuff to me.