1 May 2011 4 Comments

My Mozart novel and the intifada

If there had never been a Palestinian intifada, I might never have written my novel about the death of Mozart, MOZART’S LAST ARIA, which is published today in the UK by Corvus. Of course, 4,000 people would also be alive who are now dead. In the course of writing about that destruction between 2000 and […]

25 December 2010 0 Comments

Bethlehem upbeat for Christmas

For the first time in years, the people of Bethlehem have something more to celebrate at Christmas than the recollection of an important birth in their town 2,000 years ago. After the city’s economy was devastated by the Palestinian intifada over the last decade, Bethlehem’s economic recovery has picked up pace in the last year […]

23 December 2010 2 Comments

Extreme weather boosts creativity

Samuel Johnson wrote that “When two Englishmen meet, their first talk is of the weather.” The good doctor wrote that in 1758, long before the conversation of Englishmen was informed by the hyperbolic outrage of London’s present tabloids. Just lately it seems he might amend his phrasing to “their only talk.” The British are in […]

13 December 2010 0 Comments

New West Bank road to peace?

ST. GEORGE’S MONASTERY, West Bank — Gathered in the chapel of this outpost in the Judean Desert last week, the Orthodox priests chanted “Lord, have mercy” in Greek, in a service of blessing for a new road that makes the venerable building accessible to the growing number of tourists willing to dare a visit to […]

31 August 2010 3 Comments

Going historical

Writing of the disdain expressed for genre novels by critics, Raymond Chandler said that there were just as many bad “literary novels” of the type favored by critics as there were bad genre stories – except that the bad literary novels didn’t get published. In other words, there’s nothing inherent in so-called genre fiction that […]

1 August 2010 1 Comment

With democracy like this, who needs dictators?

JERUSALEM — Israelis like to point out that theirs is the only democracy in a Middle East otherwise dominated by repressive regimes. Given the performance of legislators in the parliamentary session that just ended here, you might be forgiven for asking: with democracy like this, who needs dictators? The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, broke up last […]

23 July 2010 1 Comment

Israeli settlements: frozen, still cooking

JERUSALEM — Palestinian negotiators said again this week they’d refuse to re-enter direct peace talks with Israel unless the current partial freeze on construction in Israeli settlements is extended when its term runs out in September. But as a report released this week by the Israeli human-rights organization B’Tselem reveals, a real settlement freeze would […]

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 […]

12 June 2010 1 Comment

Motor sport, Palestinian style

Their politics might be spinning wheels, but Palestinians are revving engines on the race track. NABLUS, West Bank — For a change, the Palestinians gathered on the main street of Nablus were happy to be going around in circles. Palestinian politics makes a lot of noise, only to end up spinning its wheels, moving no […]

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 […]