Counter punch – Alice Bach
August 30, 2016

 

Ben Ehrenreich, an American journalist with an eye for the ironic an ear for the perfect succinct phrase, has created pictures of both village and town life of Palestine under the occupation, behind the Apartheid Wall, and inner walls.

“The Way to the Spring” begins in 2011, when the author first visited Nabi Saleh to report on the village protests for the New York Times Magazine, and ends in the fall of 2014, following Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip that summer.

Ehrenreich lived in the West Bank intermittently between 2011 and 2014, absorbing the world of Palestine, so different from Los Angeles, his home base. He starts small: a village, a surrounded house, a Friday protest.

Since the occupation is about containing people, taking their land, draining their wells, destroying their cultural sites, The Israeli government speaks through different kinds of walls, permanent checkpoints, and flying checks.

Ehrenreich shows his reader the physical walls, but further, the subtleties of verbal walls and the walls of armed IDF soldiers and Border police who keep Palestinians out of reach of hospitals, businesses, cultural centers, and even the holy places in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

First, and most obvious, the Separation Wall, called by Palestinian activists the Apartheid Wall. The average height of the Berlin Wall was 11.8 feet, whereas the current height of Israel’s Wall is more than twice as high: 25 feet.

One of the joys of this book is that the author does not spend his time reviewing readily available material. Copious endnotes will lead the interested reader to the thickness of scholarship they crave.

Clearly anyone attracted to a 400-page book about the occupation in Palestine has heard plenty about the Apartheid Wall and has read in our mainstream media about the struggles, mostly from a Zionist “it’s our right” insistence for years. So the author moves in for tight shots, intimate conversations, small villages that are getting smaller as the illegal settlements swell in size. He is so successful that since finishing this memorable account…

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