It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street: A Jerusalem Memoir Paperback – Sep 1 2009
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"This book must be one of the most honest accounts of those terrible years. It's proportionate, subtle and comprehensive ... biased toward nobody, but the voices of moderation and hope." -- Guardian --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
EMMA WILLIAMS has worked in Pakistan and Afghanistan. She was a correspondent for the Spectator during her assignment in Israel. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
When I first started reading the book, I interpreted the news items and her relating interviews and conversations with a pretty wide variety of people as her own, but she does occasionally insert her own views. My impression due to some of her commentary was that she related to Israelis most- that could be due to a suicide bomber blowing up outside her children's school and near it and in places she frequented. Unlike some who have a strong sympathy for Israel, though, she doesn't ignore or deny Palestinian humanity, rights, the fact that Israel is an occupier, the fact that Israel does wrong. I would be curious how she struck people she lived with in Jerusalem; there were a number of times when her friends would say something against Palestinians and she noted that she remained silent. She definitely seems pretty balanced in the book. She really seems to have sympathy for both people and understand the nuance of both sides' politics.
What also made the book so good was that it covers a wide variety of issues: Israeli denial of absolute facts- like IDF kills children, UN workers, etc; how she and others self censor depending on who they talk to; media bias; the Wall; American attitudes; among others.
What could make her so reasonable, besides being British :). Maybe being a doctor (she worked in many hospitals, Palestinian and Israeli, in her public health research while there) helped her not be able to ignore the facts. Seeing the maimed and hearing doctors' struggles on both sides must have had an impact on helping her see the similarity in the two sides, the brutality and senselessness of the violence, whatever the source.
Maybe being a UN worker's wife also helped her feel sympathy toward Palestinians and not only Israelis. She tells of how an Israeli chased her up the street yelling obscenities in her face upon seeing her UN plates because many Israelis feel the UN is "on the Palestinians' side." I guess that could have driven home what kind of hate could be directed at Palestinians by Israelis, if she didn't get it by listening to Palestinian friends' experiences.
I stumbled into Palestine first as a curious (and clueless) tourist (on my way to Istanbul), stayed on to volunteer with Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi's political party, and ended up working as a journalist and the foreign press coordinator for Dr. Barghouthi when he ran for president of the PA in 2005.
I wrote a book called Fast Times in Palestine to try to get across the surreal atmosphere of the beauty and romance and humor that coexist with blood and hate and theft and attack helicopters, and dispel some of the gross distortions of facts that tend to happen here in the US. It was such a joy to find another book that also has this aim, just located slightly differently in space (Jerusalem instead of Ramallah) and time (the beginning of the second Intifada instead of the end of it).
I found her presentation very balanced, being very sensitive to Israeli suffering and fears, while at the same time not downplaying the brutality of some of the Israeli government's policies and the horrific suffering and fears of the Palestinians because of them. She never excuses violence or brutality, but she does explore why they happen. Her personal stories and discussions with friends and officials on both sides (and journalists and aid workers caught in the middle) were often very revealing, as were her own instincts at times to remain silent in the face of injustice so as not to offend certain people's sensibilities. I'm glad she was able to be honest about this, as it is very common among foreigners who have both Israeli and Palestinian friends.
Her sources are very useful and in many cases difficult to impeach, coming as they do straight from the Israeli press and the words of Israeli soldiers and policymakers. An important contribution to the literature on this subject that I think everyone should read.