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Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape
Raja Shehadeh is a passionate hill walker. He enjoys nothing more than heading out into the countryside that surrounds his home. But in recent years, his hikes have become less than bucolic and sometimes downright dangerous. That is because his home is Ramallah, on the Palestinian West Bank, and the landscape he traverses is now the site of a tense standoff between his fellow Palestinians and settlers newly arrived from Israel. In this original and evocative book, we accompany Raja on six walks taken between 1978 and 2006. The earlier forays are peaceful affairs, allowing our guide to meditate at length on the character of his native land, a terrain of olive trees on terraced hillsides, luxuriant valleys carved by sacred springs, carpets of wild iris and hyacinth and ancient monasteries built more than a thousand years ago. But latterly, as seemingly endless concrete is poured to build settlements and their surrounding walls, he finds the old trails are now impassable and the countryside he once traversed freely has become contested ground. He is harassed by Israeli border patrols, watches in terror as a young hiking companion picks up an unexploded missile and even, on one occasion when accompanied by his wife, comes under prolonged gunfire.
The Land Beyond: A Thousand Miles on Foot through the Heart of the Middle East
There are many reasons why it might seem unwise to walk, mostly alone, through the Middle East. That, in part, is exactly why Leon McCarron did it.From Jerusalem, McCarron followed a series of wild hiking trails that trace ancient trading and pilgrimage routes and traverse some of the most contested landscapes in the world. In the West Bank, he met families struggling to lead normal lives amidst political turmoil and had a surreal encounter with the world's oldest and smallest religious sect. In Jordan, he visited the ruins of Hellenic citadels and trekked through the legendary Wadi Rum. His journey culminated in the vast deserts of the Sinai, home to Bedouin tribes and haunted by the ghosts of Biblical history.The Land Beyond is a journey through time, from the quagmire of current geopolitics to the original ideals of the faithful, through the layers of history, culture and religion that have shaped the Holy Land. But at its heart, it is the story of people, not politics and of the connections that can bridge seemingly insurmountable barriers.
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