2002 Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land Summary & Study Guide

David K. Shipler
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2002 Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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2002 Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land, a work of non-fiction drawn from the author's five years of service as the New York Times bureau chief in Jerusalem, was originally published in 1986. He wrote it as a trained, neutral, but concerned observer, motivated by a combination of sorrow and outrage - repulsed by the zealous intolerance of both sides, but mostly sympathetic to the personal lives of everyday people affected by the violence. He wanted to clarify how Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews see one another and to expose the emotions with which they face each other. He wrote it at a time when the reality of an Israeli state and the reality of Palestinian people were both accepted as fact. The focus had changed to the question of how they would coexist.

This is the people's story, the contents of and commentaries on a reporter's meticulous notebook, recording interviews on the street, in office, and in homes. He summarizes historical, political and religious situations to establish the context for the subjects he examines. He cites opinion polls and official studies, examines textbooks, adult and juvenile fiction, poetry, theater, and film, and calls in experts for their opinions, but for the most part allows individual Arabs and Jews to speak of joys and sorrows, hopes and fears, biases, hatreds, misunderstandings, reconsiderations, and yearnings in their own voices. Fortunately for the reader, Shipler has an ear for ironic humor and sprinkles examples liberally throughout the otherwise heavy text.

Within a few years, Shipler deemed his book "on the verge of becoming outdated" (Foreword to the Revised Edition, pg. xix), because the Oslo accords (1993) and the beginning of direct negotiations appeared to offer hope of a genuine political settlement. Too quickly, however, the dispute "circled back to its basic elements of enmity," and by 2002. Shipler felt obliged to revise his study because "this book was originally written in a more innocent time" (Foreword to the Revised Edition, pg. xiii).

While keeping the original narrative intact, Shipler added notes and postscripts to deal with monumental events that demanded treatment. He notes the political process that had brought Arabs and Jews to "the brink of resolution"; Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in1995 and the instability that this act introduced to Israeli policy; Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's take-it-or-leave-it-offer in 2000 of sovereignty over 96 percent of the West Bank and Gaza to the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) - and chairman Yasser Arafat's rejection of it. He recounts the ostentatious visit by Barak's successor, Ariel Sharon, to the disputed Temple Mount, which provoked a violent Arab reaction - a second bloody intifada - and Israeli retribution, equally bloody; and the internationalization of the conflict, launched by the World Trade Center/Pentagon massacre on 9/11/2001.

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