Within a year the entire landscape had changed, and over the next seven years Myre and Griffin, with their two young daughters, learned to live “normal” lives in a place of constant conflict. It is this experience — waking up, taking children to school, going to work, shopping, all the time aware that violence may erupt at any moment — that Myre and Griffin so effectively record in this compelling and personal book. At the same time, they bring their professional ability to observe, largely without bias, both sides of the conflict and the unremitting hostility beneath it.
Intrepid reporters, Myre and Griffin travel to outposts where intensely devout Jewish youngsters set up unauthorized settlements, to the 3:00 a.m. rush hour at the Gaza crossing where Palestinians line up to get to work in Israel, to a cramped and sweaty shelter in Kiryat Shmona where a family of eight regularly huddles for days during rocket barrages. They interview an Israeli Nobelist who explains that suicide bombers are rational and a former Fatah wannabe who believes they are not. They talk with an Arab informer and an Israeli activist who are fighting the legitimacy of many settlements. They dissect the subtleties of military euphemism and both sides of the public relations war.
As veteran war reporters, Myre and Griffin can testify to the futility of military superiority in today’s inconclusive wars and to the international criticism it often brings in its wake. Israel can control almost any aspect of Palestinian life, but it can’t control the ability of the Palestinians to just fight on. Is there a solution to this longest of unresolved conflicts? Myre and Griffin list ten major obstacles to its end. Number 10 states flatly, “The Israelis and Palestinians hate one another.” This is an eye-opening and heartbreaking book. Afterword, chronology, index, map, notes, photographs.
Maron L. Waxman, retired editorial director, special projects, at the American Museum of Natural History, was also an editorial director at HarperCollins and Book-of-the-Month Club.