Aaron Hamburger Whatever it Takes
Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Wrote a Novel about Israel, p.3

His wife took a few seconds, and then said, slowly, “Yeeeeeaaaah,” as if the answer had to be pulled out of her, as if it would have been heresy to admit a trip to Israel hadn’t been a meaningful experience. When I told an Israeli friend about this couple, he said, “You should really consider writing about these tourists. You seem to know them so well.”

At first I was still wedded to my original plan and didn’t want to take his advice. But then I began to think about that couple, and imagine their life together and the hopes they’d pinned on Jerusalem. Maybe I could write about them, just for fun, and when I found a way to make my original plan work, I’d go back to that.

And so I began writing a novel about that couple by the Wall. I scribbled my story in a notebook by day while watching Israel descend into violence on the evening news. I decided to set the book over that fateful weekend when Barak had faced that no-confidence vote that almost took him out of office. I infused my story with heat, and talk of war, while areas where I’d walked without thinking twice exploded.

And then I went home to New York, which had never seemed so peaceful as it did that summer of 2000. When our plane touched down in JFK, I wanted to kiss the ground, thank God that my grandparents had had the foresight to come to this country instead of Palestine, to a country safely buffered from senseless hatred and zealots who killed in the name of God, a land that hadn’t been attacked by a foreign power on its native soil since the War of 1812.

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Random House will publish FAITH FOR BEGINNERS, Aaron Hamburger's second book, in the fall of 2005.

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