4 August 2010 3 Comments

Sondheim in the West Bank

I’m in between drafts of a novel, so I thought I’d look for something to clear my head. Inspired by a BBC broadcast last week in honor of the 80th birthday of Broadway lyricist and composer Stephen Sondheim, I’ve been working on a musical version of my Palestinian crime novels. (Only in the shower, so […]

17 July 2010 1 Comment

Tragic friends on a search for peace

JERUSALEM—If you asked about a moment that encapsulates the tragedy of the Israelis and Palestinians, there’d be no shortage of incidents, fatal and wrathful, from which to choose. This week, however, I’d point out an occasion that was less shocking but just as poignant. In a banquet hall of the King David Hotel, an Israeli […]

6 June 2010 3 Comments

How to avoid writer’s block

Writer’s block has nothing to do with writing. That might seem obvious. When a writer wants to write, but can’t get anything out, he’s blocked. Not writing. Blocked. But it isn’t the writing that causes the block. Neither is it some psychological problem or an inability to conjure up the Muse of inspiration. It’s because […]

9 May 2010 0 Comments

Hamas rebuilds in West Bank

Hamas is steadily rebuilding its power in the West Bank, stockpiling weapons and material underground, biding its time for a renewal of the conflict with its Fatah rivals. Palestinian security officials have been telling me this for some time, and they are frankly filled with fear and foreboding. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mentioned it again […]

25 April 2010 0 Comments

Scribe and Scholar enter world of Hamas

A New York Times correspondent teams up with a Belfast professor to write the story of Islamism among the Palestinians. JERUSALEM — Stephen Farrell was sipping coffee in the office of his money changer on Salah ud-Din Street, East Jerusalem’s main commercial strip, four years ago, when Beverley Milton-Edwards entered. From his rucksack, Farrell produced […]

6 April 2010 0 Comments

The war Israelis and Palestinians plan

I posted this on Global Post. JERUSALEM — There’s an old Arab aphorism: “A man with a plan takes action; a man with two plans gets confused.” Apply that to the Israelis and to the Palestinians, and the nonsensical sequence of recent events in the Middle East starts to fall into a comprehensible pattern. It’s […]

11 March 2010 10 Comments

Why I love clogged Arab toilets better than Amazon Kindles

As I travel the Middle East to research my Palestinian crime novels, I love to come upon a stinking squatting-toilet, its evacuation hole bubbling with dark, sinister turds and the air strong with the scent of barely digested, unhygienically prepared lamb kebab. I adore such a khazi on sight, because no one cleaned it up […]

13 January 2010 0 Comments

The “Palestinian Mandela”?

Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences in an Israeli jail, is a key sticking point in negotiations between Israel and Hamas over kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. (I posted this on Global Post.) The most important man in Palestinian politics is neither president nor prime minister. He doesn’t shuttle between meetings at the U.S. ambassador’s residence […]

20 December 2009 0 Comments

4-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians?

My latest dispatch on Global Post — a week or so after it posted, because I’ve been in Italy and, well, the Middle East wasn’t on my mind…I didn’t miss the taste of humus too much either, not with all that saltimboca and gelato… Palestinians are divided; Israelis too. Not a good basis for negotiation. […]

29 November 2009 0 Comments

In Bethlehem, the Third Intifada approaches

Rain on the streets of Bethlehem can’t cool simmering tension. By Matt Beynon Rees – GlobalPost BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A writer seeks the surprise of a “man bites dog” story. The most violent times of the Second Intifada, which took place under the leaden winter skies of early 2002, gave me mine. I wrote […]