It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street; A Jerusalem Memoir

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It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street:
A Jerusalem Memoir
by Emma Williams
“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.” —The Guardian
 “This intelligent, incisive account…and Williams’ cool analysis of the humanity and hypocrisy at the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian fighting is striking.” —The Times
 “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.”—The Independent
“…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 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’s 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, of both sides. Anyone wanting to understand this complex and seemingly intractable dispute will find her unique account a refreshing and illuminating read.
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. She now lives in New York.
It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street: A Jerusalem Memoir
by Emma Williams
Olive Branch Press, an imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc.
Memoir/Middle East 6” x 9” 448 pages • maps  
ISBN 978-1-56656-789-3 • paperback • $16.00
Praise for the British Edition of
It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street:
A Jerusalem Memoir
by Emma Williams
One of three books ‘You Really Must Read.’  Our choice of the best recent books… Williams is an excellent recorder of dialogue on both sides of the political divide. Her purpose is to illuminate the plight of each community… It makes grim reading, but it is all true.” —Sunday Times
“Notable for the depth of observation and insight and for the vividness of the descriptions of particular events and people…  Emma Williams’s affection and feeling for those people and her doctor’s dedication to healing has caused her to produce a moving and beautifully written book which I hope will find a US publisher soon.  It will certainly help outsiders to better understand both sides and their struggle.”—Brian Urquhart, New York Review of Books
Brilliant and moving… one of the best of recent books about Israel and Palestine… [U]nusual mixture of memoir and journalism, [Williams’] experience … will be welcomed by anyone who wants to understand the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…, Williams’s own voice seeks truth, moderation and dialogue.”—New Statesman
“…brilliant memoir…she succeeds like few others in her ability to view the situation through the eyes of Jew and Arab… sensitive, compassionate and superbly written.  …more illuminating and instructive than many a pundit’s tome.”—Theo Richmond, The Spectator
Superb memoir… If Williams is as fine a physician as she is a memoirist, I would entrust my own innards to her any day of the week. Splendidly crafted and passionately engaged, this is the most artistically delectable way of boning up on the politics of the Israeli-Palestinian struggle that one could wish for.” —Terry Eagleton, Times Literary Supplement
“I recommend Emma Williams’s expatriate memoir of Jerusalem in the second intifada as an initial exposure to the dispiriting reality behind the propaganda, theirs and ours… an engrossing exploration of what that means.” —Eric Silver, The Jewish Chronicle
“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.”—The Guardian
“A clever book, in the best sense of the word… a valuable, highly readable contribution.”—The Australian
“Many books have been written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict… What makes Emma Williams’ memoir unique is the honesty of her observations on ordinary life: what it is like to live with occupation and suicide bombers…The beauty of this book is that, as the author’s political awareness grows, so does that of the reader.  She explains the conflict in simple terms, without getting bogged down by the tedious chronology that weighs down other Jerusalem memoirs…I plan on giving this book to people who ask me: ‘what is going on over there?’  Williams answers that question, and so much more.”—Daily Telegraph
“This intelligent, incisive account…and her cool analysis of the humanity and hypocrisy at the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian fighting is striking.” —The Times
Compelling… extraordinary and insightful account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”—Harpers Bazaar
“On one level, it is a personal memoir… On another level, it strikes in a more profound way, keeping at front and centre the people afflicted by the conflict and making tangible the fear to which many are condemned.”—Financial Times
“A careful and accessible explanation of the background to ‘the situation’…Williams manages to be scrupulously even-handed about one of the most contentious situations in the world.” —The Scotsman

This post has already been read 42 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com. He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites TheArabDailyNews.com and NewsAmericaNetwork.com (Illinois News Network at IllinoisNewsNetwork.com).

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post, YNetNews.com, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is Facebook.com/rghanania

Email him at: RGHanania@gmail.com