`Manages to tell each of their stories without condemnation' -- Rebecca Seal, Observer
`Outstanding ... an excellent and courageous book' -- Mark Cocker, Guardian
From the Author
There are libraries full of books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but City of Oranges is the first non-fiction work to recount the human story of those who have experienced the century-long struggle, from both sides simultaneously.
The narrative is built around six families from the ethnically-mixed city of Jaffa: Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews; Muslim and Christian Arabs. The families are working class and middle class, left wing, right wing and apolitical, in short, human beings in all their complexities and contradictions.
The book is based on many hours of interviews with several generations, their recollections of parents and grandparents, their memoirs, letters and personal archives. This innovative structure, keeping real people to the forefront, brings a vivid immediacy, while the politics, wars and diplomacy provide the necessary backdrop. The focus on Jaffa itself, a millennia-old port that now borders Tel-Aviv, brings a powerful sense of place.
Here are exile and return, destruction and construction, births and funerals - the staging posts of lives both fulfilled and torn apart. The reader sees the same episodes from both sides of the conflict, as the narrative cuts back and forth between the protagonists stories. The 1948 Israeli Independence war/Palestinian Naqba (tragedy); the 1967 Six Day War; the 1973 Yom Kippur War, right up to the 2000 Al-Aqsa intifada and its impact on Jaffa are all told through the lives of the families.
We see the Naqba through the experience of a young boy called Hasan Hammami, who together with his family, flees Jaffa in April 1948. But the Palestinian tragedy looks very different on the other side of the front-lines. We witness the exultation of Yoram Aharoni, a Bulgarian Jew and member of the extremist Stern Group, as the state of Israel is declared. But the struggle started in 1948 remains unresolved. In the 1967 Six Day War, Yoram is hunched inside an Israeli tank in the Sinai desert as the shells crash around him. Hasan, now a grown man, exiled in Saudi Arabia, is in anguish over the fate of his daughters at school in Jerusalem. So the book continues, right up to the present day, its vivid storytelling humanising a conflict too often related through politics and diplomacy.
--This text refers to the