How to write a can’t-win book: An Israeli-Palestinian story

How to write a can’t-win book: An Israeli-Palestinian story, illustration made for the story of Nathan Englander. Client: La Stampa


“Exactly one day after my new novel, “Dinner at the Center of the Earth,” came out, I came face to face with a woman telling me that one of the murdered boys in the story was her cousin. I’d just spent years inside my noggin, manoeuvring through the minefield of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and there I was, blinking in the sunlight, trying to grapple with someone’s read, not of the book, but of me. Together, we were going to tackle the question of exactly where my heart was while writing.”…

“I’d moved to Jerusalem in 1996, so excited to be part of the peace process, to contribute to that brand-new day. I returned to New York in 2001 during the height of the Second Intifada. Along with the heartbreak that I brought back to America with me, and an optimistic pessimism that still drives a sort of promise, I returned with an understanding of the challenge to ending the conflict itself.

Peace was not being brokered between two parties with two differing positions on an issue. The Israelis and the Palestinians were two peoples who, while sharing the same physical space, weren’t even inhabiting the same realm.

As a Jew, I spent those five years living in the city of Jerusalem, whose cherished holy site is the Temple Mount. My Palestinian neighbors, walking the same streets, breathing the same air, were living in al-Quds, whose great holy site, on the very same hilltop, is Haram al-Sharif. It’s like bumping into a friend in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, only to discover that she’s crossing the Golden Gate. The empathy that bridging those bridges demands goes far beyond accepting a different opinion or viewpoint. It’s about finding a way to span worlds.” …

Story by: Nathan Englander
Client: La Stampa

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