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.
Freedom and the Ordinary
In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart
Whatever it Takes
The Merchant of Venice and the New Ruling Class
James Lee Byars & the number Ten
Two Incidents at the Café Kamienica
Jacob said to an angel, Tell me your Name
Our 610 Back Pages
The I-Thou Circus
February 10, 2005
Zeek in Print
Fall/Winter 2004 issue now on sale
From previous issues:
To Ohio and Back
The Hamas Class of 1992