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This was one of the first audiobooks I bought, and i listened to it in 2005 before my second visit to Israel. I'm writing a review now because I was a little shocked that its overall rating was so low: I found it excellent. The book is not a history of the israeli-palestinian conflict. Rather, it is the attempt of a journalist living in israel to explore the mental images that israeli jews and israeli-arabs/palestinian-israelis/palestinians have of each other, in an attempt to understand how this influences their behavior and discourse. This seems to me to be a critical exercise: if you go to the websites of Al Jazeera or the New York Times or Haaretz you find pretty similar reporting of events in the region, and yet people take such enormously different messages from the same events. I found Arab and Jew to be really helpful in giving me a hint of the mindset from which people were coming.
Other reviewers have commented that there seems more emphasis on the wrongdoings of the Israelis (i.e. jewish israelis) than the palestinians, and by my recollection this may be true, although the Palestinians come in for plenty of flack as well. The authors stated intention is to make everyone uncomfortable- at least the extremists on both sides. I personally don't believe that an objective view of the middle east exists... how could it? whose would it be? ... and the best we can hope for is honest explorations, which is what i found this to be. At least, I felt that it helped me in my own exploration and interactions with Israelis, by giving me some sort of a sense of where they were coming from.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
While I appreciate the importance of the topic, 27 hours of almost undigested and poorly organized material tend to bury the subject in a landslide of accounts of misundertandings and misdeeds through the years of this seemingly eternal struggle. The book also seemed to be never ending (the fallacy of imitative form?) Both my husband and I, though very interested in the subject, gave up after Part I. The audio version also suffers from a narrator who seems to be disinterested in the material he is reading, perhaps understandable considering the great length of the work.
26 of 29 people found this review helpful