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It's Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street

A Jerusalem Memoir

Published by Olive Branch Press
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A deeply affecting memoir and a unique contribution to our understanding of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In August 2000 Emma Williams arrived with her three small children in Jerusalem to join her husband and to work as a doctor. A month later, the second Palestinian intifada erupted. For the next three years, she was to witness an astonishing series of events in which hundreds of thousands of lives, including her own, were turned upside down. Williams lived on the very border of East and West Jerusalem, working with Palestinians in Ramallah during the day and spending evenings with Israelis in Tel Aviv. Weaving personal stories and conversations with friends and colleagues into the long and fraught political background, Williams' powerful memoir brings to life the realities of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She vividly recalls giving birth to her fourth child during the siege of Bethlehem and her horror when a suicide bomber blew his own head into the schoolyard where her children played each day. Understanding in her judgment, yet unsparing in her honesty, Williams exposes the humanity, as well as the hypocrisy at the heart of both sides' experiences. Anyone wanting to understand this intractable and complex dispute will find this unique account a refreshing and an illuminating read.

About The Author

Emma Williams studied history at Oxford and medicine at London University. She has worked as a doctor in Britain, Pakistan, Afghanistan, New York, South Africa and Jerusalem. She wrote for several newspapers and magazines about Palestinian-Israeli affairs and was a correspondent for the Spectator from 2000-2003.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Olive Branch Press (November 7, 2012)
  • Length: 412 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781623710132

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Raves and Reviews

"Williams's deeply moving memoir relates the three years her family spent in a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem. Tragically, shortly after the family's arrival in 2000, the second intifada (uprising) erupted, and life in Israel and the occupied territories was shaken by suicide bombings, vicious reprisals, and constant fear. The personal experiences of the author's family are contrasted with the daily violence committed by both Palestinians and Israelis, both sides driven by a sense of victimhood and vulnerability. Williams laments that Israeli dominance and the devastation of the Palestinian economy and community can never provide security; she blames the U.S. media and government for not presenting an honest picture of or a responsible policy for the cruelty and futility of Israeli actions. She frames her memoir with a tourist's perspective on her family's explorations of the countryside, visits to historic sites, and friendships with interesting and compassionate Israelis, Palestinians, and expatriates. VERDICT A beautifully written report of the human costs of the ongoing struggle between two peoples unable to live in peace in the land they both love, focusing on the experiences of fear and suffering, violence and compassion. Highly recommended."

This book must be one of the most honest accounts of those terrible years. It's proportionate, subtle and comprehensive... biased towards nobody but the voices of moderation and hope.

This intelligent, incisive account... and Williams' cool analysis of the humanity and hypocrisy at the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian fighting is striking

A reader only vaguely aware of the reality behind the headlines will find much that is observant and saddening in her vivid portrait of this tribal dispute.

...notable for the depth of observation and insight and for the vividness of the descriptions of particular events and people... a moving and beautifully written book... It will certainly help outsiders to better understand both sides and their struggle.

– Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books

In 2000, Williams journeys with her children to Jerusalem to join her husband, and she soon realizes the magnitude of Middle Eastern unrest. A month after they arrive, the Palestinian Intifada intensifies, and Williams documents the tumultuous effects which the uprisings have on herself and those around her. Her perspective, as one who lived and worked with both Palestinians and Israelis, is portrayed anecdotally, through stories related by friends and coworkers. She addresses the humanity and the hostility while incorporating her own experiences into her narrative.

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