Chabon, Michael and Ayelet Waldman (editors). “Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation”, Harper Perennial, 2017.
On the Occupation
I find that talking about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza is a sure way for me to get into an argument and so I try to avoid the issue as much as I can. Authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman along with the Israel non-governmental organization Breaking the Silence (former Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied territories)and other illustrious writers to tell stories of the people in the contested territories. This essays put a human face on the situation.
Contributors include Colum McCann, Jacqueline Woodson, Colm Toibin, Geraldine Brooks, Dave Eggers, Hari Kunzru, Raja Shehadeh, Mario Vargas Llosa, Assaf Gavron, and the editors Chabon and Waldman. What we read here gives us unique insight into the narratives behind what we hear about and provide us with a deeper understanding of how those who live in occupied territories deal with.
The topic is always a difficult one for me since I served in the Israel Defense Forces and I love Israel. We are quickly approaching the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War in June and it is also the 50th anniversary of the occupation of the Palestinian territories. During the last five decades there has been a great deal of violence on both sides. Former Israeli soldiers formed an organization in 2004 that allowed them to speak about what they experienced in that war. The group met author and editor Waldman in 2014 and they shared a tour of Hebron and she, along with her husband Chabon realized that something must be done to change the situation. They chose to work on storytelling and thus provide a personal view of those who face the situation every day. It was then that they invited twenty-four writers from all over the world to go to the West Bank and Gaza and then share their memories of what they saw. The stories are fascinating and the run the gamut of opinions. What we read is not only enlightening but also moving, sensitive and often infuriating. Together, these stories stand witness to the human cost of the occupation