Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking stuff - I was gripped!, 14 July 2011
This review is from: Extreme Rambling: Walking Israel's Separation Barrier. For Fun. (Paperback)
I've long been a fan of Mark Thomas's brand of comedy and was keen to find out how he would spin such a complex and involved issue as this into an amusing travelogue. The politics and history of the region and the Wall were explained in a logical and efficient way, and the inclusion of the interviews and interactions with people on both sides of the divide helped to flesh this out and add a human element. I learned a great deal about this issue without feeling that I was being preached to, and Thomas does frequently flag up his own views and beliefs but does not force them onto the reader. The reader is very much left to draw their own conclusions without being lectured and the humour really helps to ensure that this is still a travelogue and story of the journey that Thomas and his companions made. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and would recommend to others who may have an interest in the Middle East situation or just really enjoy a good travel story. An engaging and amusing read.
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Initial post: 27 Nov 2011 06:41:12 GMT
Being British, spending 35 years of my life there, and having lived in Israel for 26 years I feel entitled to comment here. Warning: this may seem a very heavy review for a "light-hearted" book.

Mark Thomas has followed the adage of not letting the facts get in the way of a good story. This would be forgivable if the story here was not so tragic for so many people. Before embarking on his humorous (!) journey he made no effort to discover the 3000 year history of the Jews in their homeland, the 2000 years of Christianity dating of course from the birth of Jesus in the Land of Israel, or even of the Muslims, Islam's birthplace being of course Saudi Arabia, but whose connections to what was then called Palestine are so important today.

His walk would have been more meaningful had he taken the trouble to meet real Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the divide. To get a full picture, to achieve a balance between hype and reality he would have had to make a real effort. He chose not to.

Actually what I object to most is that he seemed to feel that the subject was a laughing matter. Unfortunately, when I am personally acquainted with people whose loved ones were mutilated or blown to smithereens in restaurants and on buses I found it hard to laugh.

The Second Intifada that he so casually mentions, cost the lives of over a 1000 Israeli civilians and thousands more were maimed for life. These figures are undisputed. The Palestinian figures are harder to quantify. The famous Jenin massacre where it was claimed 500 Palestinians died turned out to be a total of less than 50, as the UN eventually and reluctantly conceded.

I wonder how Mark Thomas would feel if an Israeli were to write a book about England based purely on the bombings of the bus and underground in London. Not, I feel, a laughing matter.
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