If you have even the vaguest interest in the world around you I would imagine that you have some sort of view on the Israeli-Palestinian situation, or tragedy to use a more appropriate word.
If you are descended from Anglo-Saxon/European stock, I would imagine that you broadly believe that the Holocaust required a safety zone for the Jewish people. But you may well also believe that subsequent treatment of the Palestinian people leaves a rather nasty taste in the mouth. Particularly if you drink Soda Stream.
What can’t be denied that this is an incredibly complex and spectacularly emotional subject, with words like apartheid, concentration camps and boycott thrown around. Which is why I would recommend that anyone with a real interest in the nub of the situation read a recently released book called My Promised Land.
The book is an unashamedly personal history of the modern state of Israel, written by one of Israel’s leading journalists, Ari Shavit. He traces the progression from the Zionist dream in the late 19th Century to the realities of this divided country in the first decade of the 21st Century, through a succession of beautifully recounted personal histories.
Many of these stories are directly related to his own family, from the account of his great-grandfather, the Rt. Hon. Herbert Bentwich, an Anglo-Jewish grandee who led an expedition to then Palestine in 1897, to interviews with his friend, the Palestinian lawyer who believes that Israel is destined to fail.
Whilst Shavit is a liberal in some areas, including his long-standing belief that the occupied territories are a moral, political and historical disaster, he also argues strongly for the necessity of Israel’s existence and the danger of Iran. His brutally focussed dissection of the fundamental contradictions that lie at the heart of Israel’s birth and early years, and his impassioned description of the follies that have littered its more recent history, make for compelling reading.
I doubt that anyone who has strong opinions on the rights or wrongs of this epic global tragedy will have their mind changed by Shavit’s writings, but I would still recommend that anyone, of any political or ideological persuasion should read it.
After all, in a region consumed with so much rash rage and anger, it surely can’t hurt to stop and think for a bit?