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Book Group: Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape, by Raja Shehadeh

Tuesday, July 26, 2022 27 Tammuz 5782

7:00 PM - 8:15 PMZoom Room Bet

Nonfiction, 224 pages.

Raja Shehadeh enjoys heading out into the countryside that surrounds his home. We accompany Raja on six walks taken between 1978 and 2006.  The earlier forays are peaceful affairs, allowing our guide to meditate at length on the character of his native land, a terrain of olive trees on terraced hillsides, luxuriant valleys carved by sacred springs, carpets of wild iris and hyacinth and ancient monasteries built more than a thousand years ago. Shehadeh's love for this magical place saturates his renderings of its history and topography.

But in recent years, his hikes have become less than bucolic and sometimes downright dangerous. That is because his home is Ramallah, in the West Bank. The landscape he traverses is now the site of a tense standoff between his fellow Palestinians and newly arrived Israeli settlers. Amid the many and varied tragedies of the Middle East, the loss of a simple pleasure such as the ability to roam the countryside at will may seem a minor matter. But in Palestinian Walks, Raja Shehadeh's elegy for his lost footpaths becomes a heartbreaking metaphor for the deprivations of an entire people estranged from their land.

Discussion led by Joel Beinin in Zoom Room Bet.

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