Another Book Tag

It’s raining book tags! Right on the heels of Shruthi’s tag, here comes Chakli’s. The rules are – Get the book closest to you. Open the book to page 123. Count to line five. Write the next three lines.

I am currently reading Thomas Friedman’s ‘From Beirut to Jerusalem’, so this is the book closest at hand. The lines to be reproduced do not make much sense by themselves, but that’s the fun of doing a tag! So the lines are – ‘The P.L.O. leaders were archetypical petit bourgeoisie. They were neither notables nor educated professionals, but rather school teachers, like Abu Iyad, or engineers, like Arafat…’

Thomas Friedman is better known for his most recent book ‘The World is Flat’, but I found this book, his first, far more riveting. Based on his first-hand experiences reporting from Lebanon and Israel for the New York Times, the book is an honest attempt at making sense of two different but interconnected Middle East tangles. (The first half of the book focuses on the Lebanese civil war, while the second is about Israel and the Palestine conflict.)

For folks like me who are not so familiar with the details, it is a good starting point to understand a drama that has been at the center-stage of world politics for more years than we can remember. The fact that the book is dated (from the late 80’s or so), makes it even more fascinating in my opinion. Imagine looking back at what we now consider as ‘history’ through the point of view of ‘current affairs’! As I was reading, I was plagued with questions. What was the outcome of the conflict? Is the situation peaceful now? How were these seemingly insurmountable differences resolved?

I was glad to read that peace, or some semblance of it, has returned to Lebanon. Unfortunately though, the Israelis and Palestinians are hardly on better terms today. In fact, had the author not mentioned dates in the book, I would have just as easily believed the events described in the book to be contemporary. (The headlines on Google News yesterday read ‘Three dead in fresh Gaza clash‘.)

Finally, there remains an unresolved question in my mind. In spite of all the strife and uncertainty in Israel, why do Jews continue to migrate there? I am reminded of a Jewish Indian family, family friends of ours, who moved from Mumbai to Israel a few years back. To my knowledge there is no antisemitism in India. An average Indian would probably be unaware of a religion called Judaism even. What, then, was the inexplicable hold this country had over our friends, a hold far stronger than the comfort of a peaceful and familiar life in the country of their birth? Can religious affinity be this strong in our ‘modern’ times?

This was fun! Thanks Chakli! I tag Silvara, Trupti, Indian Home Maker, Cee Kay and Usha. No pressure though, feel free to ignore the tag if you’ve already done it, or are otherwise unable/unwilling.

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17 responses to “Another Book Tag

  1. I like the way you handles the tag. interesting excerpt and interesting questions too.
    Thanks for taggingme but I have already done it a few weeks ago. 🙂

  2. Thanks Usha. I had a sneaking suspicion most of you well-known folks would have done the tag, but took a chance anyhow. No problems though, let me go and hunt for your post now!

    You are so right Lekhni, it is very sad. 😦 Thanks for the tip, I had heard about the book but no definite recommendations. Will go for it now!

  3. Beautifully written, you’ve aroused my curiosity….must get these books. I have read a lot about the holocaust, antisemitism etc, but hardly anything about the creation of Israel.
    Th power religion has over some people frightens me, see what it has done to the lives of women (and hence the whole population) in many countries…

  4. Thanks Indian Homemaker. I was puzzled by this tag at first, there didn’t seem to be much of a point to it. But I think you’ve hit upon the right idea – what can be more tantalizing for a book lover than a small glimpse of an interesting book? 🙂 Do let me know your opinion once you read the book.

    Yes, I am scared of the power of religion too. Religion (or spirituality, which I personally prefer) is such a beautiful thing in the private realm, but can get so crazy when mixed with politics – it is scary!

  5. hey

    That is a beautiful write up.. Interesting tag.. it gives us an insight into the book, which we migh/might not have read…

    Infact a friend gifted me ‘The world is flat”, but the book still lies flat in my book shelf, and am yet to touch it.. sigh… this also sounds intersting, let me see if i can get my hands on it..

    Cool blog..came over from IHM’s pad~~ 🙂

  6. hello!

    thank you for dropping by..i am just wayyy too busy this month to do any updates, i am working long,long hours..so i’ll be back soon..and i’ll do your tag then! enjoy the sun!

    take care!

  7. Thanks Aaarti! And welcome here. 🙂 I liked ‘World is Flat’ too. It is a tad ‘stretched’ (my impression) but gives an interesting perspective on globalization. Do read both books soon and let me know if you like them.

    Hey Trupti, long time yaar! Yeah, I can understand – take your time if you are busy. No problems at all. Just that it’s been a while and I was missing your posts and comments. 😉

  8. Hi!

    U have mentioned one of my fav books and then u have also touched upon one of my fav obsessions…the state of Israel…

    apart from O Jerusalem try and read Exodus by Leon Uris…it will help u understand where the yearning for Israel comes from. Incidentally a friend of mine who is also jewish lives and lives in Mumbai told me something that i would like to recount here.

    When Israel gained independence and opened her doors to jews from across the world to come and settle there. This friend’s father refused to leave India, he said this is my country and my God is strong enough to take care of me here even if he resides in Israel. his entire family left only he was left behind.

  9. Oh, is it? I am wondering how you got so interested in the topic Pinku? Thanks for the recommendations, they are both on my to-read list now. Interesting anecdote about your friend, somehow I have a feeling I’d have stayed back too. Now I just need to find out why the rest of the family left!

  10. Hey, no probs Cee Kay! I wouldn’t dare push you knowing the kind of schedule you have! 🙂 Take your time please.

  11. I just read it Amit. Interesting – the article says most of the Indian Jews are migrating but doesn’t really tell us why.

    And I was just curious – do I know you?

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