Has anything changed since Gaza Blues was published in 2004?

May 20, 2021

Gaza Blues: Different Stories

by Samir El-Youssef and Etgar Keret.

© 2004

From Samir El-youssef’s story THE DAY THE BEAST GOT THIRSTY

I liked listening to Ahmad.
I liked listening to Ahmad especially after I had a couple of joints. But sometimes Ahmad used to say things that made me realise that unless I leave the country I shall go mad. 
Take for example that day when he was telling me how bad things were getting. He was absolutely sure that a total war was imminent in the region. But when he saw the effect on me of what he was saying, he hastened to announce that after the inevitable was everything was going to be all right. 
“Wait until this war is over and done with, and soon everything will be all right,” he said, trying to comfort me. 
“But how soon will that be?” I asked, getting no less worried. 
“I should not think more than twenty, perhaps, thirty years!” he replied confidently.” 

From Etgar Keret’s story SURPRISE EGG
The husband asked to identify his wife by her foot. Most people identify their loved ones by their faces. But he asked to identify her by her foot because he thought that if he saw her dead face, the sight would haunt him his whole life, or rather what remained of it. He had loved her and knew her so well that he could identify her by each and every part of her body, and somehow her foot seemed the most remote, neutral and far-removed. He looked at the foot for another few seconds, even after he had identified the rarely visible way contours of her toenails, the slightly crooked, chubby, big toe, the perfect arching of her sole. Maybe it was a bad idea, he thought to himself as he continued to look at the little foot (size 6, maybe it was a bad idea to choose the foot. A dead person’s face looks like a sleeping person’s but with a dead person’s foot there’s no mistaking the death lurking under every toenail. “That’s her,” he told the pathologist after a while, and left the room.


Bethlehem Cultural Festival

December 2, 2021

Shrinking Space and the construction of borders

Christiane Dabdoub Nasser, Leila Sansour and Jacob Norris

Date: Thursday 2nd Dec 2021
Time : 19:40 (UK)

Christiane Dabdoub Nasser in conversation with Leila Sansour and Jacob Norris about her book, “A moon will Rise”. Topics of interest range from Bethlehem families in Palestine and across the globe, to the unrelenting construction of borders across Palestine/Syria/Lebanon and Brexit.

For more info about the festival


A Moon Will Rise by Christiane Dabdoub-Nasser

January 20, 2021

Upcoming in June

new fiction from David Paul

Set in 1920 in Bethlehem. This searing work of love and betrayal captures the despair and the hopes of the Palestinian people. The novel’s authentic feel is a tribute to the author’s many years promoting Palestinian culture on an international stage.

Most of contemporary Palestinian novels tackle current issues and are deeply embedded in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Nakbah in 1948. A Moon Will Rise is set in Bethlehem in 1920, just as Palestine is recovering from the hard years of World War I. But already a sense of foreboding hangs over middle class Palestinian society as the British Mandate takes over after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Tensions between the Palestinians and waves of Jewish immigrants spark riots on 19 April 1920, setting the tone for open warfare, which will erupt in 1948 and lead to the dispersal of the Palestinian nation.

The novel focuses on the life of Samira Lafiah, a 20-year old woman from a prominent but strongly conservative family who finds that her life chances are blighted by society’s rigid conventions. As she struggles to find herself in society, she defies her mother, her brother and her family, discovering love and disappointment, experiencing tragedy, until she finds her course. Throughout this tumultuous journey only one person understands her dilemma: Ibrahim Malik, her brother’s friend and a socially marginalised refugee.

As partaker of the social, economic and cultural life of Bethlehem, the Lafiah family testifies to this period, replete with turbulence, uncertainty and confused positions, which have become symptomatic of Middle East politics.

ISBN 97809926667351 Paperback Original £12.99

ISBN 9780992667378 Ebook £9.99

Simon Rocker JC review of Uncivil War

June 9, 2014

Useful review in the Jewish Chronicle by Simon Rocker that sets out clearly the main themes of Keith Kahn-Harris’s book But will the Jewish community want to challenge itself into finding more civil ways of talking together about Israel on the lines of the Stanmore Accords…

Podularity’s George Miller interviews Keith Kahn-Harris on Uncivil War: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community

May 2, 2014

Podularity’s George Miller interviews Keith Kahn-Harris on Uncivil War: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community

 click on the link

Uncivil War: the Israel-Palestinian Conflict in the Jewish Community


Keth Kahn-Harris Uncivil War“For Jews, Israel goes very close to the heart, whether you’re a Jewish supporter of Israel or you’re a Jewish critic of Israel and of Zionism, it’s very hard to be indifferent about it. In fact, it would be very odd if most Jews were indifferent about Israel because this is the major project of the modern Jewish people. […] The author Joel Schalit says in his book Israel vs. Utopiathat it isn’t just an issue for Israel and the Palestinians; it’s really become the world’s conflict. Everyone seems to have a stake in it, whether they are Israeli, Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, Christian, whatever. It’s something that it’s very difficult generally to be indifferent about, which has its positives and negatives, but I think it’s mainly negatives…”

This podcast features an interview with sociologist Keith Kahn-Harris about his new book, Uncivil War: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community. This book sets out not only to examine the heated, often vitriolic, even poisonous nature of that debate and explore how it has come about, it also aims to make its own contribution to improving the debate. As you’ll hear in this interview, Keith and his wife experimented with commensality – the practice of eating together – to see what that might achieve when members of the UK’s Jewish community with widely differing views sat down together.

Reviews of Trouble-Making Judaism by Elli Tikvah Sarah

April 4, 2014

 A steady stream of praise for Elli Tikvah Sarah’s book Trouble-Making Judaism 

Works in Translation




‘Rabbi Elli Tikvah Sarah… has written a book with the power to awaken and inspire. The Trouble-making Judaism she lauds is creative, irreverent, engaged, and boundary-crossing. It’s also deeply engaged with Jewish texts and theology. Her feminist-inspired rereading of traditional texts is creative, provocative, and inspiring. Her Trouble-making is not confined to biblical texts, so her voice of Jewish sanity addresses many of the troubling issues facing Jewish life in the twenty-first century.’   Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine

‘For more than 20 years, Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah has been at the forefront of the struggle for egalitarianism in Judaism – both as a feminist and as one of the first openly gay or lesbian rabbis to break through the heterosexual monopoly… What shines through the book is her love of text study, which roots her ideas in close analysis of the language of Torah.’  Simon Rocker, The Jewish Chronicle

‘Sarah is passionate, committed and eager to change the world… A formidable scholar, Sarah’s book is festooned with footnotes, testimony to a hard-won struggle with Judaism.’   Keith Kahn-Harris, New Humanist

‘With Trouble-Making Judaism, Elizabeth Sarah has thrown down a gauntlet to all Jews who wish to see their Judaism make an active, principled and powerful contribution to public debate and the needs of society.  English Liberal Judaism is fortunate to have such a prophetic voice in its midst.’   Rabbi Dr Charles H Middleburgh

‘Elli turned trouble-making into a virtue and a gift. Her book is an inspiration to any of us who are troubled by what makes us different, but who take the small yet crucial steps to express it and make something of it. This call to courage is Elli’s most far reaching contribution. We are not just Liberal Jews, but liberating Jews… I found reading this book a lesson in generosity of spirit and, that much neglected sole trait, awe.’  Lucian J Hudson, LJ Today  

‘Tikvah Sarah displays a deep-seated passion for learning. This is fused with an equally energetic desire to see learning as the basis for community building… In its pages the reader acquires the tools by which to see the communal, political, religious, social and personal issues that challenge us on a daily basis and paradoxically, to affirm difference in unity at the same time. Troubling the status quo never seems so Judaically normal.’  Winston Pickett, Sussex Jewish News

‘The courage and honesty with which she writes plus the uniqueness and courage of her story make it well worth the read. Her discussion and creation of Midrash is nothing short of magical,’ Maxwell Zachs, author of The Pepple’s Republic of Nowhere in Good Reads

Keith Kahn-Harris outlines case for a civil debate about Israel in The Times of Israel

March 24, 2014


Keith Kahn-Harris predicts in the JC that new fault lines over Israel will emerge should it ever decide its borders

March 24, 2014

Keith Kahn-Harris speculates in this Jewish Chronicle  comment piece on the Kerry talks and what will happen to the positions of Zionists and anti-Zionists and pro peace Zionists  should Israel finally make a deal on the Palestine issue. Decades of ambiguity would come to an end …on the occupied territories …whether there will be one state or two. Be it a greater or lesser Israel, there is bound to be a new class of ex-Zionists, disappointed Zionists in Isael and around the world….

“Uncivil War: The Israel Conflict….” review and comments on FODIP

March 16, 2014

Turn Right at Cyprus – the official blog of the Forum for the Discussion of Israel and Palestine (FODIP)

2014-03-12 19.28.59
Keith Kahn-Harris being interviewed by Colin Bulka, programme director of JW3

“I asked myself, what can someone like me do about tensions in the British Jewish community?” explained Keith Kahn-Harris at his book launch on Wednesday. “Just invite people to my home. This demonstrates effort, attention, hospitality, conviviality – civility. Doing it at home is important.” Kahn-Harris’ book, “Uncivil War: the Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community”, examines how differing opinions about Israel have led to divides in diaspora Jewry and suggests a policy of ‘civility’ as the best way of countering them.


As both a sociologist and a committed member of the British Jewish community, Kahn-Harris combines personal experience and scholarly analysis in his treatment of this difficult topic – with excellent results. To anyone who has not grown up in the midst of British Jewry, the vibrant denominational landscape and often passionate divergence of opinions can be at best baffling, at worst rather intimidating. In the introductory chapters to ‘Uncivil War’, Kahn-Harris casts some much needed light over the complex issues involved, describing the conflicts that increasingly arise out of these divergences and the ill effects that follow. But the meat of this book is in his central argument: the idea of – and need for – ‘civility’.

At the launch, he declined to give a ‘neat definition’ of the word (because he didn’t want people always saying ‘well, according to Keith Kahn-Harris….’), but he did roughly outline his thoughts on the subject. ‘Civility is a practice that doesn’t close off the possibility of a better form of relationship,’ he offered, ‘it keeps that communication open. It’s not the same as politeness, but it can involve it.’ It is a practice he argues should be employed more often in discussions between Jews, believing it facilitates impassioned debate without the sour side effects.

Nor has he stinted on ground-level research in the testing of his theory. In the climax of the book, he details ‘The Dinner Party Project’. Thirteen dinners were hosted over a two year period (Kahn-Harris thanked his wife for this) and high profile guests were invited to sit, eat and talk together. These guests included rabbis, activists, journalists, and leaders of diverse Jewish organisations: people of different views who would almost certainly challenge one another. So far, so much a massive feat of catering. The trick was getting them not to yell at each other. This chapter is fluidly and sensitively written, with great detail given about the logistical difficulties in getting so many people together and providing a forum for creative debate that stopped short of a fight. A fascinating read.

For the launch, Kahn-Harris was proud that he had got a panel together that were in no danger of simply agreeing with him – and the debate moved energetically over a wide array of questions. These included where (if anywhere) should Jews draw a red line between people they are willing to talk to and people they are not, and what it meant and should mean when someone speaks ‘as a Jew.’ Q and A followed, and the audience unpacked these issues still further. One question that turned out to be a favourite among many was what a gentleman should particularly show his young nephew on an upcoming trip to Israel following his Bar Mitzvah. Suggestions for this ranged from historic Jewish cemeteries to the ‘two walls’ (Kotel and separation barrier), and from the Knesset to the city of Hebron.

There were naturally a few comments at points throughout the evening that I felt may have been played for personal effect, rather than for the purpose of engagement. “Ah, I’m not a fan of dialogue” and “I don’t talk to idiots – I know them when I see them” were a couple that particularly stuck in my mind and notebook. But there was also a great deal of nuance at play, in both academic and humorous varieties. One memorable discussion was the idea that food facilitates civility in the Jewish world – an idea backed up by the fact that the one single row occurring during the Dinner Project had broken out when the lentil stew was burnt.

So why should you read this book? Well, it is a detailed treatise about dialogue facilitation in practice and its applicability to the British Jewish community today. It is scholarly, informative, entertaining – and it champions not only civil debate, but also good food. Enough said.

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Book launch for Uncivil War: “The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community”

February 23, 2014

Keith Kahn-Harris launches Uncivil WarThe Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community  in a panel  discussion with Daniella Peled, Jonathan Sacerdoti and Michael Wegier at the JW3 on March 12.  https://www.jw3.org.uk/event/when-we-talk-about-israel?pid=4384#.UwnR8_k0FQs.

Diaspora Jews are no longer unified in their support for Israel. Anger, aggression and verbal abuse between Jews has broken out.  With increasing bitterness Jew is turning gainst Jew. The author, a sociologist and writer, explores the causes of the conflicts and describes how with expert help, he brought together more than seventy prominent British Jews with diverse opinions for a series of encounters. In  Uncivil War he analyses the various groupings –  left, right, secular and religious, pro and anti-Zionist – in Britain and the USA, and he explores the history of civility and dialogue,  the different methods used by international organisations involved in developing dialogue within Jewish communities and the issues that came up in the encounters.

This is the first major analysis of the effects of Jewish divisions over Israel  and  is a major contribution to our understanding of the issues and to seek ways of managing them.

 Keith Kahn-Harris is a sociologist and writer. He is co-author of  Turbulent Times: The British Jewish Community Today, the author of Judaism: All That Matters and the editor of the Jewish Journal of Sociology. He is  regular contributor of articles and reviews to  The Guardian. Independent, New Statesman and Society, and the  Jerusalem Post.

Michael Wegier is Chief Executive of UJIA  the largest Jewish charity in the UK, that focuses on strengthening young people’s Jewish identity and connection to Israel with educational programmes. Formerly executive director of the Melitz Educational Centre in Jerusalem.

Daniella Peled is an editor at the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. A former foreign editor of the Jewish Chronicle, she writes widely on Israel and Palestine and is a regular contributor to Ha’aretz.

Jonathan Sacerdoti is a political commentator and analyst. He appears frequently on international news programs and lectures internationally on the Middle East.

The book is in hardback, paperback and ebook formats. See the main www.davidpaulbooks.com  website