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An American’s Search for Hope in the Middle East

by Jennifer Miller

Pub Date: Sept. 13th, 2005
ISBN: 0-345-46924-0
Publisher: Ballantine

Can the rising generations overcome their parents’ prejudices and bring peace to Israel and Palestine?

It’s not out of the question, writes journalist Miller, a veteran of the Seeds of Peace program in which Israeli, Palestinian and Egyptian youth come together at a Maine summer camp. Miller, who witnessed the signing of the Oslo Treaty, in which her father, a U.S. State Department negotiator, played a role, says of her family legacy: “The joke among my friends is that Middle East peace is the Miller family business.” To judge by this account, the family business is in very good hands indeed, for Miller is an admirably evenhanded chronicler of events that she goes on to witness in Israel and Palestine. She is blessed with a sense of irony, too; one of the places in which Palestinians air their aspirations is an American fast-food restaurant in Ramallah, “happily munching their hamburgers” even as the more militant of the youngsters insist that women are not capable of holding power, let alone driving a car. The Arab community has much to aspire to, Miller writes, for it is truly oppressed; yet, she adds, “It is difficult to determine how much of the Arab community’s second-class status is due to its internal conflicts and corruption and how much is due to governmental discrimination.” Corruption is all around, as are evidences of that discrimination; when Jewish Israelis protest, for one, the cops don’t shoot them down, whereas, one policeman said, at Arab Israeli demonstrations the orders are “shoot to hit.” Miller’s Israeli subjects aspire to peace, too, but must wrestle with the dilemma one of them poses: If the Palestinians are enfranchised, Israel may disappear; therefore, there is no hope of a united, bi-national state, hard though that may be for proponents of a Greater Israel to accept.

A thoughtful book that encourages dialogue between young people on both sides of the issue.