The American writer Kathleen Christison and her husband Bill have made long personal journeys over the past three decades in becoming outspoken critics of Israel and of US Middle East policy. In their youth they were political analysts in the CIA where, they recall, they failed to gain an adequate understanding of “Zionism’s true meaning or its inevitable impact on the Palestinians.” It was only after leaving the CIA and “the insular Washington bubble” in 1979 that they developed wider perspectives on US policy.
They started to question their earlier assumptions, and their views on the Palestine-Israel issue gradually changed. The latest manifestation of their concern for the Palestinians is their book “Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation”, published by Pluto Press of London and New York.
Kathleen is the author of two previous books. “Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on US Middle East Policy” (1999, updated 2001), and “The Wound of Dispossession: Telling the Palestinian Story” (2002).
The latest book was launched in London a few days ago at an event at the Kensington Hotel hosted by The Cordoba Foundation (TCF) and Middle East Monitor (MEMO). Kathleen and Bill, who had traveled from their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, appeared on a panel of speakers along with TCF’s founder and chief executive officer Anas Al-Tikriti, MEMO’s director Dr. Daud Abdullah, the chair of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, John McHugo, and the co-founder and director of Forward Thinking, Oliver McTernan.
Since 2003 the Christisons have made eight visits to the West Bank, staying three to four weeks each time. Bill said he and Kathleen wrote their book with two aims. “One was to give the best analysis we could of what was actually happening in the Israeli occupation. The other was to tell as many individual stories of people who live in the West Bank and Gaza as we could.”
The 212-page book includes 52 full-page black and white photographs with detailed captions, and a number of maps. The photographs present a generally grim picture of checkpoints, destruction, house demolitions (a form of “slow ethnic cleansing”), the ugly eight-meter high separation Wall, military harassment, suppression of demonstrations, economic deprivation and the humiliations of Palestinian daily life.
The few shots of the Palestinian countryside show the beauty of the terraces and olive trees – but a caption states that this landscape is fated to be the site of a segment of the separation Wall, and that sewage from Israeli settlements is being dumped on Palestinian farmers’ fields.
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