For decades, we’ve been shocked by images of violent clashes between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But for all their power, those images leave us at a loss: from our vantage at home, it’s hard for us to imagine the struggles of those living in the midst of the fighting. Now, American-born Israeli David Shulman takes us right into the heart of the conflict with Dark Hope, an eye-opening chronicle of his work as a member of the peace group Ta‘ayush, which takes its name from the Arabic for “living together.”
Though Shulman never denies the complexity of the issues fueling the conflict—nor the culpability of people on both sides—he forcefully clarifies the injustices perpetrated by Israel by showing us the human dimension of the occupation. Here we meet Palestinians whose houses have been blown up by the Israeli army, shepherds whose sheep have been poisoned by settlers, farmers stripped of their land by Israel’s dividing wall. We watch as whip-swinging police on horseback attack crowds of nonviolent demonstrators, as Israeli settlers shoot innocent Palestinians harvesting olives, and as families and communities become utterly destroyed by the unrelenting violence of the occupation.
Opposing such injustices, Shulman and his companions—Israeli and Palestinian both—doggedly work through checkpoints to bring aid, rebuild houses, and physically block the progress of the dividing wall. As they face off against police, soldiers, and hostile Israeli settlers, anger mixes with compassion, moments of kinship alternate with confrontation, and, throughout, Shulman wrestles with his duty to fight the cruelty enabled by “that dependable and devastating human failure to feel.”
With Dark Hope, Shulman has written a book of deep moral searching, an attempt to discover how his beloved Israel went wrong—and how, through acts of compassionate disobedience, it might still be brought back.