THE PEOPLE OF NOWHERE by Danny Rubinstein


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
ISBN: 0-8129-1940-8
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Times/Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1991