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?