Can Israel and Palestine ever make peace? Israeli novelist Grossman (Be My Knife, 2002, etc.) addresses this question from the perspective of a Jerusalem journalist who is also a husband, father, and peace activist bitterly frustrated by the leaders of both sides.
In a series of essays, Grossman documents the ten-year descent from that memorable Arafat/Rabin handshake at Oslo into the present-day spiral of violence and death: with little hope of peace, Israelis settle for security; with little hope of security, Palestinians settle for vengeance. Acknowledging a constant struggle against upwelling pessimism, the author frames a conflict long since commandeered by the extremists on both sides; peace is fundamentally unattainable, he reasons, because nobody deserves it. In Grossman’s view, a semi-amnesiac Israeli majority has lost track of its own ethos and lacks the courage for peace, while an equally benumbed Palestinian population has neither the vision nor the leadership to bestow it. Yet it is not hard for him to pick a winner: Sharon’s political genius has been to reduce everything to the single issue of security through force; by resorting to suicide bombings, on the other hand, the Palestinians have assured that even justifiable acts against repression will be seen as terrorism by Western policymakers. But in “winning” the conflict, Grossman asserts, Israel has paid the price of becoming a “more militant, nationalistic and racist country” than it has ever been, now virtually without internal political opposition even while its “economy, morale and security are all in decline.” Continuing failure to acknowledge a connection between 35 years of repressive occupation and today’s Palestinian terror, he believes, “ensures that for many years to come we will all [remain] each other’s hostages, agents of gratuitous and pointless death.”
Chillingly, sometimes agonizingly, eloquent on hope’s fading light.