Regular members of the book club and others who are going to Israel in February met on the 27th January to discuss “Whose Promised land?” by Colin Chapman. The book covers the conflict between Israel and Palestine and explains the roots of the problem by giving a history of the land; it gives an interpretation of the bible regarding the land in the Middle East and outlines the arguments of the main parties involved today.
Everyone agreed that the book was very hard to read; it is a scholarly book with much of the information supplied in the form of quotations from the bible, academic historians, journalists, state leaders and politicians. Some of the group found this style very hard going and only managed to read the concluding pages at the end of each chapter, or used it like a reference book and dipped into different parts of the book. Despite this everyone was glad they had tackled the book!
We thought that the book gave a balanced account of the issues and the author acknowledged where it was difficult to be impartial. It is a reminder to us that we also need to be even handed. The book gave useful background and is well structured.
The discussion moved onto peoples own understanding and knowledge of the current situation and how some of their own viewpoints had changed with time.
The author tried to be fair and objective and his conclusion did not suggest any simplistic solution or summary of the current problems. His concluding chapter consisted of several headed subsections on subjects and attitudes he had discussed in the book; these were very interesting to read. The group felt there was room to be hopeful for the future; they thought more people in authority are now speaking about this conflict and hoped that given time this could lead to change.
Our next book will be “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande. The author examines his experiences as a surgeon in exploring the realities of aging and dying as well as the limits of what medicine can do. We will meet to discuss this on 7th June 2016.