For more than 56 years, no other conflict in the world has received more media attention than that of the Middle East. In the West, its emotive force makes it ever more certain that its coverage will be often poor or biassed. David Chemla doesn’t offer here so much a history as a series of stories. He has interviewed men and women, Israeli and Palestinian, known and unknown, who share the same desire to put an end to the conflict. To listen to their stories is to hear the history of the region unfold and to discover the impact it has had on the course of their lives. We find the signatures of the military, religious and political leaders, academics, directors of organisations, or writers such as David Grossman appended to the Geneva Accords or the Ayalon-Nusseibeh petition. The author seeks to understand their involvement and the paths which led them to the situation they find themselves in today. These men and women have managed to take on board the position of others, to go beyond their own viewpoint to incorporate that of others. This book allows the reader to break through the psychological barriers which, in the current context of hate and fear, lock everyone into their own personal pain and inability to understand the other side.
In the fight for peace, these testimonies have a great deal to teach us. For if there are those today who have been able to make this journey, others can do the same tomorrow.
David Chemla is the director in France of the movement ‘Peace Now’. Between March 2004 and May 2005, a crucial period in the peace process, he visited Israel and Palestine several times to carry out these interviews.