9 January 2011 0 Comments

Into the heart of Hezbollah

The liberal Israeli newspaper published my review of two new books on Lebanon (one’s on Hezbollah, the other is a broader history) in its weekend edition: Hezbollah is often portrayed in the West as a caricature of implacable Islamic terrorism. Lebanon also has become something of a stereotype, its name now synonymous with any process […]

17 September 2010 0 Comments

Fussy like Poirot, tarnished like Marlowe

Declan Burke runs an excellent blog on Irish crime writing. He also reviews for The Irish Times. Today the Times has this very gratifying review of my latest novel, along with write-ups of the new ones from Kate Atkinson, Don Winslow and Conor Fitzgerald, among others: “Matt Rees’s protagonist Omar Yussef generally prowls the mean […]

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 […]

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 […]

2 April 2010 0 Comments

An Islamic Romeo and Juliet

Since 9/11, journalists and writers have tried to understand the extremists committed to the destruction of the West and, often, that of their own societies in the Middle East. Writers have mostly done this by “going inside” the world of those extremists, giving us the inner life of suicide bombers or of the “American Taliban.” […]

21 January 2010 0 Comments

Everyone comes back to Jerusalem

Everyone comes back to Jerusalem. I don’t know why, I really don’t. It’s too hot. The people can be offhandedly mean, and they drive as though they want to kill you. It isn’t a very pretty place once you look close. Oh and, yes, sometimes it gets violent. With shocking self-obsession, it thinks the eyes […]

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. […]

3 December 2009 0 Comments

Ass-backwards on Gays

When it comes to homosexuals, Palestinians have it all ass-backwards. That led me to introduce homosexuality as a theme of THE SAMARITAN’S SECRET, my most recent Palestinian crime novel. I wanted to show how negative attitudes toward homosexuals function in the Muslim world, demonstrating the bloody consequences for gay Muslims and the struggles it causes […]

13 November 2009 0 Comments

Is Abbas really ready to quit this time?

Worn out has-been or drama queen? Interpretations of the Palestinian president’s threat to quit vary greatly. By Matt Beynon Rees – GlobalPost JERUSALEM — Sometimes a quitter really does quit for good. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, announced last week that he wouldn’t run for re-election in the proposed January elections. Back when he […]