THE PEOPLE OF NOWHERE: The Palestinian Vision of Home by Danny Rubinstein
Kirkus Star

THE PEOPLE OF NOWHERE: The Palestinian Vision of Home

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A thoughtful analysis of the changing Palestinian concept of identity, rendered with remarkable clarity and balance by Israeli journalist Rubinstein. First published in Israel in 1990 and well-received across the political spectrum, Rubinstein's study takes a new approach to the tortured debate it likens to ""a dialogue of the deaf, each living in a separate world with its own images and implications."" Unlike No Trumpets, No Drums (p. 985), Mark A. Heller and Sari Nusseibeh's provocative blueprint for a two-state solution, Rubinstein offers no concrete schemes to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, relying instead on the passionate expressions of Palestinian literature and personal testimony to find hope in the very forces that have created recent upheavals. Whereas Israelis--the vast majority of whom are refugees or the children of refugees--conceive of a homeland in national terms, Palestinians, the author notes, have traditionally formed an almost ""erotic"" attachment to their own homes. Thus, as they fled or were displaced during the war that followed Arab rejection of the 1947 UN partition plan, Palestinians adamantly focused on ""return."" The harsh realities of exile and, particularly, the new political order following the 1967 Six-Day War helped shift individual longings to a more abstract sense of national unity, reflected in a flowering of culture and political activism. Paradoxically, explains Rubinstein, although this new spirit strengthened the PLO and led directly to the Intifada, it also allows the first real possibility of a compromise, as the goal of return to one piece of land--impossible if Israel is to survive in its present form--has yielded to a more general wish for ""acknowledgement"" as a nation. A generous and extraordinarily lucid essay, informed by the respect and recognition without which no mutually acceptable resolution can be realized. Essential reading for followers of Middle Eastern politics.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1992
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Times Books