3 September 2010 5 Comments

The Inquisition, the Jews of Andalus, and Columbus: ‘By Fire By Water’ review

Historical novels vie with crime and romance novels for the titles of most derided and most widely read literature. They’ve had a bad rap ever since the 19th century, when the swashbucklers of Alexandre Dumas looked pretty wooden next to Dickens, and cartoonish in comparison to the depth of Victor Hugo or George Eliot. There […]

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 […]

9 July 2010 1 Comment

All talk, no two states

(I posted this today on Global Post.) At his White House press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week, United States President Barack Obama enthused that the talks about talks will probably lead to talks, and his assessment was that the Israeli government is ready to take part in those talks. As the […]

17 June 2010 1 Comment

Cheers for Hitler, and Brits go home

The company you keep can put the culture around you in a new light, let you see it as you haven’t before. That’s true when I travel to different countries and discover that readers in Germany have a particular take on my Palestinian crime novels which differs from the way they look to Americans, for […]

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 […]

23 May 2010 0 Comments

Israel prepares for next threat–nuclear?

NABLUS, West Bank — During the Palestinian intifada, I sat on a dusty hilltop overlooking this most violent of West Bank towns with a dozen of the top Israeli officers in the area. The brigade commanders told their regional chiefs that all the police work and house-to-house fighting of the intifada had made their troops […]

11 May 2010 1 Comment

Hezbollah’s missiles cover all Israel

JERUSALEM — Hezbollah’s stockpile of weapons includes missiles that can strike at the entire area of Israel, the country’s Intelligence Minister revealed Monday. In a briefing to foreign journalists, Dan Meridor said the Lebanese Shiite militia, which fought a rocket war with Israel in 2006, has 42,000 rockets and missiles “aimed at Israel.” He added […]

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 […]

5 May 2010 0 Comments

Good times, danger signs in West Bank

BETHLEHEM, West Bank — The good news is that the West Bank is normal — kind of — and that people are content — sort of. The bad news, the Palestine Liberation Organization thinks it’s responsible for the good news. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who’s also the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chief, has decided to […]