Throughout their youth Nir Baram’s generation were bombarded with news about the Israeli-Palestinian conflictthe injustices, the wrongdoings, the killings. Over the decades, the horror and despair had become habithe noticed people had begun to give up on the possibility of resolution. Yet, as Baram notes, the vast majority of Israelisas well as international onlookers know next to nothing about life on the West Bank, the area at the heart of the conflict they have spent their adult lives dissecting’. Most have never visited the occupied territories, and thus the debate revolves around a theoretical, ill-defined area sketched out in our political imagination.’
This book of reportage emerged from the author’s realization that Israel is separated from the West Bank not only by checkpoints but also, more significantly, by a cognitive barrier. And so began his quest to understand the occupation from both sides. The result is an essential and nuanced journey through places and experiences that receive little coverage.
Baram, widely considered one of the most important intellectual voices in Israel today, faces painful challenges to his personal political views and his hopes for a more peaceful future.
Nir Baram has worked as a journalist, editor, and advocate for Palestinian rights. He is the author of five novels in Hebrew. In 2010 he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Hebrew Literature.
Chapter 1: Two Handcuffed Boys on the Side of the Road –Balata Refugee Camp
Chapter 2: The Post-Two-State Era – El Matan Outpost and Ma’aleh Shomron Settlement
Chapter 3: “You’re the first Jew he’s ever seen”: Fatah and Hamas Prisoners Start a New Life – Ramallah
Chapter 4: “I see Gaza from my window” – Kibbutz Nirim
Chapter 5: The Murder of a Palestinian Boy; Fears of Religious War on the Temple Mount – The Old City of Jerusalem
Chapter 6: Dream Big: “Do you want to be a king or a prophet?” – Kedumim and Elon Moreh
Chapter 7: The Nowhere Neighborhoods – Palestinian Jerusalem Beyond the Separation Wall
Chapter 8: Religious Peace – Otniel Yeshiva, Gush Etzion
Chapter 9: Every Peace Initiative Eventually Runs into a Wall – Beit Jala, Bethlehem
Chapter 10: On Hill 777, the Palestinians are a Rumor – The Itamar Outposts and Yanun
Chapter 11: In Barta’a They Talk of Arab-Arab Trade, Not Peace – Barta’a
Chapter 12: Noise – Jabel Mukaber and Ras al-Amud, East Jerusalem
'An honest and troubling snapshot of Israel—both Palestinian and Israeli—that reveals the creeping realization that a two-state solution may no longer be possible. A leftist Israeli journalist and novelist, Baram (Good People, 2016, etc.), who grew up in the 1980s, confronted his own long-held biases by spending an extended length of time penetrating the Green Line (the 1949 demarcation of Israel's borders) and visiting the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a series of hard-hitting chapters, he recounts his journeys—to Palestinian refugee camps, Israeli settlements, kibbutzim, and border crossings like Kalandia—underscoring the enormous fatigue that has settled around the Israeli occupation and the essential desire for the Palestinians to enjoy equal rights and move freely within the country. The sad, stunning truth is that most Palestinians and Israelis have no contact with each other.... From horror to fatigue to indifference, an important look forward and back that provides a grass-roots sense that one state needs to satisfy sovereignty for all.'—Kirkus (starred review)