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When the Birds Stopped Singing

Life in Ramallah Under Siege

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eBook published by Steerforth (Steerforth Press)

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About This Book
The Israeli army invaded Ramallah in March 2002. A tank stood at the end of Raja Shehadeh's road; Israeli soldiers patrolled from the roof toops. Four soldiers took over his brother's apartment and then used him as a human shield as they went through the building, while his wife tried to keep her composure for the sake of their frightened childred, ages four and six.
This is an account of what it is like to be under seige: the terror, the frustrations, the humiliations, and the rage. How do you pass your time when you are imprisoned in your own home? What do you do when you cannot cross the neighborhood to help your sick mother?
Shehadeh's recent memoir, Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine, was the first book by a Palestinian writer to chronicle a life of displacement on the West Bank from 1967 to the present. It received international acclaim and was a finalist for the 2002 Lionel Gelber Prize. When the Birds Stopped Singing is a book of the moment, a chronicle of life today as lived by ordinary Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza in the grip of the most stringent Israeli security measures in years. And yet it is also an enduring document, at once literary and of great political import, that should serve as a cautionary tale for today's and future generations. 
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The Israeli army invaded Ramallah in March 2002. A tank stood at the end of Raja Shehadeh's road; Israeli soldiers patrolled from the roof toops. Four soldiers took over his brother's apartment and then used him as a human shield as they went through the building, while his wife tried to keep her composure for the sake of their frightened childred, ages four and six.
This is an account of what it is like to be under seige: the terror, the frustrations, the humiliations, and the rage. How do you pass your time when you are imprisoned in your own home? What do you do when you cannot cross the neighborhood to help your sick mother?
Shehadeh's recent memoir, Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine, was the first book by a Palestinian writer to chronicle a life of displacement on the West Bank from 1967 to the present. It received international acclaim and was a finalist for the 2002 Lionel Gelber Prize. When the Birds Stopped Singing is a book of the moment, a chronicle of life today as lived by ordinary Palestinians throughout the West Bank and Gaza in the grip of the most stringent Israeli security measures in years. And yet it is also an enduring document, at once literary and of great political import, that should serve as a cautionary tale for today's and future generations. 
Product Details
eBook (160 pages)
Published: March 12, 2013
Publisher: Steerforth Press
Imprint: Steerforth
ISBN: 9781586422127
Other books byRaja Shehadeh
  • Palestinian Walks

    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. Shehadeh's love for this magical place saturates his renderings of its history and topography. 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. Amid the many and varied tragedies of the Middle East, the loss of a simple pleasure such as the ability to roam the countryside at will may seem a minor matter. But in Palestinian Walks, Raja Shehadeh's elegy for his lost footpaths becomes a heartbreaking metaphor for the deprivations of an entire people estranged from their land.

    Strangers in the House

    Strangers in the House
    Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine
    "This is not a political book," Anthony Lewis asserts in his foreword to this revealing memoir of a father-son relationship set against the backdrop of more than thirty years of life under military occupation. "Yet in a hundred different ways it is political. . . . Shehadeh shatters the stereotype many Americans have of Palestinians." Three years after his family was driven from the city of Jaffa in 1948, Raja Shehadeh was born in Ramallah. His early childhood was marked by his family's sense of loss and impermanence, vividly evoked by the glittering lights "on the other side of the hill." He witnessed the numerous arrests of his father, Aziz, who, in 1967, was the first Palestinian to advocate a peaceful, two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He predicted that if peace were not achieved, what remained of the Palestinian homeland would be taken away bit by bit. Ostracized by his fellow Arabs and disillusioned by the failure of either side to recognize his prophetic vision, Aziz retreated from politics. He was murdered in 1985. The first memoir of its kind by a Palestinian living in the occupied territories, Strangers in the House offers a moving description of daily life for those who have chosen to remain on their land. It is also the family drama of a difficult relationship between an idealistic son and his politically active father, complicated by the arbitrary humiliation of the "occupier's law."

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