/ Includes PS Section The pioneering autobiographical story of a British Zionist in her fifties who moves to Israel and chooses to live among 25,000 Muslims in the all-Arab Israeli town of Tamra, a few miles from Nazareth. / Susan Nathan's story is reminiscent of John Howard Griffin's classic 1950s book 'Black Like Me', which became an international bestseller for many decades. / As far as she knows, Susan Nathan is the only woman who has chosen to live as a Jew in a Muslim Arab community inside the state of Israel.
Susan Nathan was born in England and brought up for the most part in apartheid-era South Africa, where she strongly opposed the system. An AIDS counsellor in London, she decided in her fifties -- recently divorced and with grown-up children -- to take up the Jewish right of return and move to Israel. This is her first book.
When she was 16, Nathan, a British Jew living in South Africa, had sex with her aunt's black servant. "Sex between a black man and a white woman in apartheid South Africa," Nathan writes, "was not just a physical act, it was an act of powerful political dissent." Decades later, Nathan would again make a striking political statement with a simple physical gesture: she moved from her home in Tel Aviv and settled in a small Arab town in northern Israel, quietly but clearly renouncing the Zionist philosophy that had facilitated her citizenship in Israel through the Right of Return. Nathan matter-of-factly describes the impossibility of getting furniture delivered or an airline reservation made with an address that doesn't appear in any of the state's databases, although 25,000 Muslims live there. These quotidian details nicely illustrate her critique of Israel as a state that "enforces a system of land apartheid between... two populations," just as South Africa had. It is a shocking comparison, but Nathan goes further, drawing a parallel between the Holocaust and Israel's practices toward its own Arab citizens. Yet, even when throwing down a gauntlet, Nathan's writing is poised, emotionally candid and ultimately empathic to the plight of both groups. The Arabs' displacement mirrors the Jews' wandering, Nathan observes, and before the two groups can coexist peacefully, each must recognize itself in the other. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
'"The Other Side of Israel" is a deeply troubling book. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand the reality of life for the Arab citizens of Israel. Susan Nathan's story bears witness to the shameful discrimination routinely practiced against them by the Israeli authorities. Her experience transforms her from an ardent Zionist into an eloquent but sorrowful critic of the state she had previously revered. Her account is the more telling because she writes with just as much warmth about her Jewish friends as she displays towards the Palestinians who befriend her. This important book not only has the ring of truth about it but an aura of hope as well.' Jonathan Dimbleby 'Extraordinary observation, sensitivity and insight.' Jon Snow, Guardian '"The Other Side of Israel" could not be more timely!It deserves wide attention as a profoundly human story, thoughtful and funny and unafraid.' Times Literary Supplement 'Eye-opening.' Sunday Times This is a powerful, readable and courageous book.' The Tablet