This book is about the Palestine-Israel conflict from the perspective of an Israeli Jew. Miko Peled is the son of General Matti Peled, who is famous in Israel as a hero of the 1967 war. After leaving military service, General Peled became a professor of Arabic Literature at Tel Aviv University. He also played a prominent role as a peace activist who advocated Palestinian rights and peaceful co-existence between Israelis and the Palestinians. It is only towards the end of the book that Miko Peled tells us what brought about this change in his father.
Miko Peled, like other Israelis, served in the military. It wasn’t until his niece, Smadar, was killed in a suicide bombing attack that Miko Peled started questioning Israel’s policy towards the Palestinians. He became restless and started looking for ways to bring peace to his troubled homeland.
Thus, began his journey to know more about “the other”. The one big, major obstacle he had to overcome was fear of the Palestinians — people who he and all Israelis have been taught are their enemies. Those people wanted all Jews dead. He was gripped with fear the first ventured alone into a Palestinian town. He was convinced the Arabs would attack, beat him up and kill him — which of course, didn’t happen.
What I find most interesting and enlightening about reading this book is the non-violent resistant movement by the Palestinians — I admit that I’ve never heard of this until I read this book. What the main stream media often tell us is about the militant, terrorist Hamas who is determined to destroy Israel.
Then there is the bereavement forum that brings together Israelis and Palestinians who have lost family members in the conflict. People who know the pain of losing their loved ones get together to not only help each other heal, but also to find peaceful means to end the conflict so that the senseless loss of lives will stop.
To me, reading about how committed these Palestinians and Israelis are to establishing peaceful co-existence is very touching and gives hope that one day the occupation of Palestinian land will come to an end and the people — Arabs and Jews — will learn to trust one another and live together in peace again.
My favourite part of the book is when Peled invited his friend and Palestinian peace activist, Nader, to his home. The young children of the two activists happily played together. Peled pointed to the children and said, “Look, Israeli and Palestinian kids who don’t even know they’re supposed to be enemies.”