Witness in Palestine: A Jewish American Woman in the Occupied Territories

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Paradigm Publishers, 2007 - Political Science - 397 pages
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Anna Baltzer, a young Jewish American, went to the West Bank to discover the realities of daily life for Palestinians under the occupation. What she found would change her outlook on the conflict forever. She wrote this book to give voice to the stories of the people who welcomed her with open arms as their lives crumbled around them. For five months, Baltzer lived and worked with farmers, Palestinian and Israeli activists, and the families of political prisoners, traveling with them across endless checkpoints and roadblocks to reach hospitals, universities, and olive groves. Baltzer witnessed firsthand the environmental devastation brought on by expanding settlements and outposts and the destruction wrought by Israel's "Security Fence," which separates many families from each other, their communities, their land, and basic human services. What emerges from Baltzer's journal is not a sensationalist tale of suicide bombers and conspiracies, but a compelling and inspiring description of the trials of daily life under the occupation.

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Like most Americans, I grew up in a bubble with regards to Israel and Palestine. The news consistently showed Israel as the valiant yet equanimous victim and depicted the Palestinians as unreasonable and dangerous. With the Internet this bubble began to burst and this book was my first deep dive into learning about what is really going on there. It was a truly eye-opening book for me. The first half is a calm, articulate narrative of the author's experiences in Palestine and the second half is a series of well researched appendices that detail the history of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. In this way it presents both the very personal stories of people suffering under occupation and those seeking to alleviate their suffering and via the appendices, provides an excellent reference book that I find useful to refer to when I need to explain the issues to people who have yet to step outside the bubble. Given that our Congress has recently seen fit to give Israel yet another $38 billion in American weapons paid for by you and me, every American should read this book! 


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Settlements in the West Bank

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About the author (2007)

Anna Baltzer is a Jewish American graduate of Columbia University, Fulbright scholar, and two-time volunteer with the International Women's Peace Service in the West Bank, where she documented human rights abuses and supported the nonviolent resistance movement to the occupation.

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