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Palestine & Palestinians Guidebook

Contributed by This Week In Palestine on 25.02.2006:

This Week in Palestine

August 2005

English translation by Carol Scheller-Doyle and Walid Shomali

Edited by Angela Godfrey and Jawad Musleh

Alternative Tourism Group, Ramallah, 2005, 443 pages.

Palestine & Palestinians is a comprehensive guidebook to what remains of Palestine both within Israel and within the currently occupied Palestinian territories. Avoiding the common trap of propagating a national cause, endorsing a particular religion or pertaining to a political faction, the book does not forego other relevant information. It provides concise historical facts, easy contact information for accommodation and local organizations, including important cultural activities around Palestine. One of the more interesting aspects of Palestine & Palestinians is the contact reference to local NGOs in nearly every place mentioned. This opens places which were largely hidden or unknown to foreigners. Local organizations enable foreigners to benefit from a place of encounter, a point of departure to comprehending the current predicament of the Palestinians.

Palestine & Palestinians was first published in French in 2003. The book is divided into three main sections. The first section provides concise introductory information on the geography and history of the country, the Palestinian population and culture, and the Jewish colonization of Palestine. The central and most substantial section of the book is divided into five sub-chapters of itineraries for Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the territories of 1948 (within Israel) and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. The final section gives practical information related to visa and customs formalities, transportation and communication, national and religious holidays, medical precautions and media information. An appendix complements this book with relevant expressions and phrases in the Palestinian Arabic dialect, a glossary of important terms and a highly useful “recommended reading list” on the geography, history and society of Palestine.

The book is interspersed with poems and excerpts from the writings of prominent Palestinian writers, such as Mu‘en Bseiso, Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani, Emile Habibi and Tawfiq Zayyad. It also includes short biographies of important Palestinian figures, both contemporary and deceased. Most of the photographs are in black and white, interspersed with full-page coloured ones.

While increasing awareness of the Palestinian perspective on the ongoing conflict with Israel, Palestine & Palestinians manages to transmit a generally objective point of view. It avoids any broad, sweeping political comments on the repeated Israeli injustices, maintaining a focus on Palestinian culture and tourist travel in Palestine.

The book is available at local bookshops and can be ordered at www.atg.ps.

From a review by Stuart Reigeluth that first appeared in the Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. XII, No. 1, 2005.

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