During the first Palestinian uprising in 1990, Jeffrey Goldberg – an American Jew – served as a guard at the largest prison camp in Israel. One of his prisoners was Rafiq, a rising leader in the PLO. Overcoming their fears and prejudices, the two men began a dialogue that, over more than a decade, grew into a remarkable friendship. Now an award-winning journalist, Goldberg describes their relationship and their confrontations over religious, cultural, and political differences; through these discussions, he attempts to make sense of the conflicts in this embattled region, revealing the truths that lie buried within the animosities of the Middle East.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Prisoners|
|Release Date: 10-03-2006|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Chapter OneTHE THIEF OF MERCY
On the morning of the fine spring day, full of sunshine, that ended with my arrest in Gaza, I woke early from an uneven sleep, dressed, and pushed back to its proper place the desk meant to barricade the door of my hotel room. I unknotted the bedsheets I had tied together into an emergency escape ladder. Then I hid the knife I kept under my pillow, cleaned the dust from my shoes, and carefully unbolted the door. I searched the dark hall. There were no signs of imminent peril. Most people wouldn't be so cautious, but I had my reasons, and not all of them were rooted in self-flattering paranoia.
I was staying at the al-Deira hotel, a fine hotel, one of Gaza's main charms. On hot nights, which are most nights, it brimmed over with members of haute Palestine, that small clique of Gazans who earned more than negligible incomes. The men smoked apple-flavored tobacco from water pipes; the women, their heads covered, drank strong coffee and kept quiet.
By day the hotel was mostly empty. The hotels of Gaza had been full in the 1990s, during the long moment of false grace manufactured by the Oslo peace process. In 1993, Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn, and it seemed as if the hate would melt away like wax. At that moment, even a pessimist could envision an orderly close to the one-hundred-year-long war between Arab and Jew. But this was now the spring of 2001, and we were six months inside the Palestinian Uprising, the Intifada, the second Intifada, this one far more grim than the last. The land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan was once again steeped in blood: Arabs...