OVERRIDE

A Wall in Palestine

René Backmann, Translated by A. Kaiser

Picador

The West Bank Barrier is expected to be completed in 2010. Declared illegal by the United Nations International Court of Justice, this network of concrete walls, trenches, and barbed-wire fences could permanently redraw one of the most disputed property lines in the Middle East--the Green Line that separates Israel and the West Bank. To Israel the “security fence” is intended to keep Palestinian terrorists from entering its territory. But to Palestinians the "apartheid wall" that sliced through orchards and houses, and cuts off family members from one another, is a land grab.

In this comprehensive book, Backmann not only addresses the barrier's impact on ordinary citizens, but how it will shape the future of the Middle East. Though it promises security to an Israeli population weary of terrorism, it also is responsible for the widespread destruction of Palestinian homes and farmland; with its Byzantine checkpoint regulations, it has also severely crippled the Palestinian economy; and, most urgent, the barrier often deviates from the Green Line, appropriating thousands of acres of land, effectively redrawing the boundary between the West Bank and Israel. 

Backmann interviews Israeli policy makers, politicians, and military personnel, as well as Palestinians living throughout the West Bank, telling the stories not only of the barrier’s architects, but also of those who must reckon with it on a day-to-day basis on the ground. 

With bold, brilliant, and often impassioned reportage, A Wall in Palestine renders the West Bank Barrier--its purpose, its efficacy, its consequences--as no book before. 

BOOK EXCERPTS

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CHAPTER 1

EVEN THE QUALITY OF THE LIGHT

One morning in early August of 2002, the residents of Chiyah, El-Azariyeh, and Ras al-Amud, the Palestinian villages that form the eastern boundary of Jerusalem, discovered that pieces of paper printed with a message in Hebrew had been tacked to the trees during the night. The message, bearing the stamp of the Israeli Defense Forces, was a military order informing residents that some of their land was going to be requisitioned by the army to erect a wall. It listed the plots of land that would be affected and specified that those who wished

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REVIEWS

Praise for A Wall in Palestine

"A Wall in Palestine is more than a book about a wall. It takes us directly, dramatically, into the lives of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupations. It cannot fail to move anyone who reads it. It goes beyond journalism because it is a cry for attention from the world."--Howard Zinn

"A tragic story told with truth and passion."--John le Carré

"With extensive boots-on-the-ground journalism and close examination of the historical record, Backmann demonstrates that while Israeli security concerns are real, the wall is undeniably also a political tool with life-shattering implications for the Palestinians whose lives it surrounds and constricts. In gathering these various voices in one powerful and accessible book, Backmann makes a vital contribution to the discourse surrounding the potential for peace in the region--and the costs the conflict continues to extract."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An impassioned text that combines polemic incitement with assiduous geographical insight."--Kirkus

"Anyone who wants to know why the route of the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinians is winding deep into occupied land should read René Backmann's superb book, A Wall In Palestine."--Joe Sacco, author of Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, and Footnotes in Gaza

"Superb...Backmann's book demonstrates a relentless continuity of Israeli purpose, now cemented by a fence."--Roger Cohen, The New York Times

"Sometimes a third party sees better than the parties involved. René Backmann's vivid, courageous book sheds much-needed light onto both sides of the West Bank Barrier."--Avraham Burg, author of The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes

"An important book that will not only tell you everything about the wall Israel is building in Palestine, but by separating lies from propaganda and myth from fact it explains better than most the intricacies of the Arab-Israeli conflict."--Raja Shehadeh, author of Palestinian Walks:  Forays into a Vanishing Landscape

"An investigation of the true suffering and discrimination that is veiled by the wall. A tragic story written with integrity and intelligence that shows the absurdity of occupation, and the need to put an end to it."--Elias Khoury, author of Gate of the Sun

“René Backmann has followed all aspects of this battle engrained in the hills of the West Bank. He has met with those who are building the wall and those who feel its effects. He has heard the arguments of its defenders and spoken with those who resist them.”--Le Monde

“René Backmann describes the effects--political, economic, and human--of the wall that is being built in the West Bank by the Israeli government.”--Le Figaro

 

"The wall separating Israel and the Palestinian West Bank, which runs for more than 400 miles, has been declared illegal by the United Nations International Court of Justice. Israel began constructing the wall in October 2000 after the Second Intifada, but reporter Backmann speculates that it has been under consideration since at least 1977, when then minister of agriculture Ariel Sharonbegan encouraging Jewish settlement of the area. Backmann analyzes the long history of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians that led to construction of the wall. More poignantly, he offers profiles of the individuals whose lives have been severely disrupted by the wall: a woman who now must travel through barriers and checkpoints for hours to reach a school she founded, a journey that used to take 15 minutes; a coffee and spice business on the brink of failure because the busy street on which it was located now dead-ends at the grim, gray wall; husbands and wives who cannot live together unless they give up homes and businesses. A compelling look at the human side of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Vanessa Bush, Booklist

"A Wall in Palestine is more than a book about a wall. It takes us directly, dramatically, into the lives of the Palestinians living under Israeli occupations. It cannot fail to move anyone who reads it. It goes beyond journalism because it is a cry for attention from the world."--Howard Zinn

"A tragic story told with truth and passion."--John le Carré

"With extensive boots-on-the-ground journalism and close examination of the historical record, Backmann demonstrates that while Israeli security concerns are real, the wall is undeniably also a political tool with life-shattering implications for the Palestinians whose lives it surrounds and constricts. In gathering these various voices in one powerful and accessible book, Backmann makes a vital contribution to the discourse surrounding the potential for peace in the region--and the costs the conflict continues to extract."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"An impassioned text that combines polemic incitement with assiduous geographical insight."--Kirkus

"Anyone who wants to know why the route of the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinians is winding deep into occupied land should read René Backmann's superb book, A Wall In Palestine."--Joe Sacco, author of Palestine, Safe Area Gorazde, and Footnotes in Gaza

"Superb...Backmann's book demonstrates a relentless continuity of Israeli purpose, now cemented by a fence."--Roger Cohen, The New York Times

"Sometimes a third party sees better than the parties involved. René Backmann's vivid, courageous book sheds much-needed light onto both sides of the West Bank Barrier."--Avraham Burg, author of The Holocaust Is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes

"An important book that will not only tell you everything about the wall Israel is building in Palestine, but by separating lies from propaganda and myth from fact it explains better than most the intricacies of the Arab-Israeli conflict."--Raja Shehadeh, author of Palestinian Walks:  Forays into a Vanishing Landscape

"An investigation of the true suffering and discrimination that is veiled by the wall. A tragic story written with integrity and intelligence that shows the absurdity of occupation, and the need to put an end to it."--Elias Khoury, author of Gate of the Sun

“René Backmann has followed all aspects of this battle engrained in the hills of the West Bank. He has met with those who are building the wall and those who feel its effects. He has heard the arguments of its defenders and spoken with those who resist them.”--Le Monde

“René Backmann describes the effects--political, economic, and human--of the wall that is being built in the West Bank by the Israeli government.”--Le Figaro

 

"The wall separating Israel and the Palestinian West Bank, which runs for more than 400 miles, has been declared illegal by the United Nations International Court of Justice. Israel began constructing the wall in October 2000 after the Second Intifada, but reporter Backmann speculates that it has been under consideration since at least 1977, when then minister of agriculture Ariel Sharonbegan encouraging Jewish settlement of the area. Backmann analyzes the long history of tensions between Israel and the Palestinians that led to construction of the wall. More poignantly, he offers profiles of the individuals whose lives have been severely disrupted by the wall: a woman who now must travel through barriers and checkpoints for hours to reach a school she founded, a journey that used to take 15 minutes; a coffee and spice business on the brink of failure because the busy street on which it was located now dead-ends at the grim, gray wall; husbands and wives who cannot live together unless they give up homes and businesses. A compelling look at the human side of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Vanessa Bush, Booklist

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • René Backmann, Translated by A. Kaiser

  • René Backmann is an international affairs columnist at Le Nouvel Observateur foreign desk. In 1991 he was awarded the Prix Mumm, France’s highest honor for journalism. 

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    A Wall in Palestine

    René Backmann, Translated by A. Kaiser

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