The West Bank writer and lawyer Raja Shehadeh documents his troubled relationship with an Israeli with typical grace and power
It is difficult not to wonder what kind of a man Raja Shehadeh might have become had he been born nearly anywhere else. Surely, he would have been a writer in almost any incarnation, but what kind of writer? Not everyone gets to choose. Shehadeh was born in Ramallah in 1951, three years after the foundation of the Israeli state forced his parents and many thousands of other Palestinians to abandon their homes in the coastal city of Jaffa and take refuge where they could. As a young man, he sought out other worlds. He travelled to Britain to study law and to an ashram in Pondicherry to “try my hand”, he writes in Where the Line Is Drawn, “at a spiritual life”. He was soon called home when his mother fell ill. The freedom to invent oneself, he has been forced to learn repeatedly, is a privilege reserved for the fortunate few.
This book documents the excruciating effort to stay human in a place where one’s humanity is under constant attack