In August 2000 Emma Williams arrived with her three small children in Jerusalem to join her husband and to work as a doctor. A month later, the second Palestinian intifada erupted. For the next three years, she was to witness an astonishing series of events in which hundreds of thousands of lives, including her own, were turned upside down.
Williams lived on the very border of East and West Jerusalem, working with Palestinians in Ramallah during the day and spending evenings with Israelis in Tel Aviv. Weaving personal stories and conversations with friends and colleagues into the long and fraught political background, Williams' powerful memoir brings to life the realities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She vividly recalls giving birth to her fourth child during the siege of Bethlehem and her horror when a suicide bomber blew his own head into the schoolyard where her children played each day.
Understanding in her judgment, yet unsparing in her honesty, Williams exposes the humanity, as well as the hypocrisy at the heart of both sides' experiences. Anyone wanting to understand this intractable and complex dispute will find this unique account a refreshing and an illuminating read.
Introduction: Just over the Hill
The first I heard of the plan to move our young family from
New York to Jerusalem was on an October nights drive along
the Sawmill Parkway to Connecticut.
Howd you like to live in Jerusalem for a couple of years? Andrew and I had been married for eight years. Soon after our wedding in Britain Id joined him in Pakistan where I worked as a junior surgeon in a Pakistan hospital, and we moved to New York in 1992.
Now it was late October, 1999. Andrew was at the wheel of a rented car. Wed stood in line for burgers and milkshakes at the Red Rooster in Brewster and the smell of French fries hung stale in the car air.
Might be good. I needed more information. Whats up?
The main UN office for the Middle East peace process is setting up a unit for regional politics out there, helping with the negotiations that are looking encouraging. The lead guy has asked if Id be ...
The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians is remote to most of us in the West - an abstract that one glosses over as one reads the morning paper. We hear of the suicide bombers and the checkpoints and it's easy to dismiss these stories as just another act of violence in a place that's far, far away. Emma Williams' book, It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street, goes a long way toward bringing this conflict into our living rooms, helping us to understand its complexities and explaining its human toll, putting a face to those suffering its effects.
When the Intifada erupted in September 2000, Williams was in a unique position as a British doctor, wife and mother living in Jerusalem. Her friends and co-workers included both Palestinians and Israelis, which allowed her to gather unvarnished opinions from both sides of the dispute. Using this inside information she completely captures the thoughts of the people with whom she mixed, relaying their opinions without judgment. She truly understands both points of view and how and why her friends' attitudes evolved over time, and unreservedly conveys this to her readers - vividly detailing the decline in relations between the two peoples as the violence escalated....
This is a valuable book for anyone who would like to understand the tensions between these two peoples, and the author's ability to boil down the situation's complexities into easily understandable and relatable prose makes It's Easier to Reach Heaven a must-read. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (1339 words).
Yom Ha'atzmaut & Al-Nakba
There have long been Jewish communities in Palestine, but populations saw particularly rapid growth as Jews fled European pogroms during the 19th century. A large wave of immigration, mainly from the Russian Empire began in 1881 and continued up until the start of World War I. During this period, known as the First and Second Aliya ("ascent"), over 70,000 Jews immigrated to Israel, which was then part of the Ottoman Empire, establishing the first kibbutz and reviving Hebrew as the national language; before this wave of immigration it is estimated that Jews represented about 4% of the local population.
In 1917, with the Ottoman Empire routed and the British in control of Jerusalem, British Foreign ...
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