Contested Land, Contested Memory
By: Jo Roberts
Contested Land, Contested Memory by Jo Roberts teaches readers of all backgrounds and education levels an incredible amount. This work is a detailed look into the complex history and delicate situation that is the relationship between the Arab Palestinians and the Jewish Israelis. Before anyone comments on, forms an opinion of, or professes to be educated on the present day or historical events of this section of the middle east they first need to read this book. An anthology of events, the definition of memory and its interconnectedness between people and the land they inhabit, as well as the significance of perspective Contested Land, Contested Memory is a robust educational journey. We all think we know and understand modern history. Our education has provided us with a complete curriculum, teaching us all of the important events both ancient and modern…or has it? When I read Contest Land, Contested Memory I was amazed at the complex history, both recent and distant past, that we had not covered – not in private school education, nor in my college classes (albeit I never took a class that focuses specifically or solely on the middle east or its people).
To understand current foreign affairs and relations I think that this book is an important educator that weaves together the fragile threads that form the relations between the Arabs and Jews. Both people suffered greatly and one at the hands of the other – but was it right, or was it wrong? If the motives were right does that nullify the actions of one people? There are so many different questions explored in this detailed work that I cannot begin to scratch the surface in my review. Instead I implore you to pick it up for yourself and take a journey through history, through tragedy, through struggle to arrive at the questions we should be asking today. The Jewish people were forbidden to own land, hold office, were kept in perpetual serfdom or ghettos until the French Revolution and rule of Bonaparte in the 1790’s. Hitler was by no means the first to demonize and make the jewish people scapegoats – it turns out, this is a very longstanding European tradition. The Palestinian arabs suffered displacement and violence so that the Jews could have their own protected state and to this day many have been unable to return to their homes. Those that do find their towns demolished or renamed, are unable to own property and are in danger of being evicted.
The situation is a complicated one, and it is all spelled out in Contested Land, Contested Memory by Jo Roberts. From cover to cover this history is much more like listening to a richly detailed story and philosophy debate rather than reading a detailed textbook which rapidly becomes boring or tedious. I very much enjoyed reading this book and strongly urge anyone interested in modern day politics, foreign relations, history, anthropology, psychology, religion or development of nations to read it.