Karma draws the title of her book from the story she recounts of two rabbis who visited the Holy Land in 1987, affirming that the “bride [land] is beautiful,” but that she “was already married to another man.”A commonly cited narrative has been that the land of Palestine in 1947 was “a land without a people, for a people without a land.” As the title would indicate, Karmi attempts to dispel various popular narratives that would erase the narrative of the Palestinian people and marginalize their historical account.
I found the book to be very helpful. As an American, I had been exposed to a largely pro-Zionist narrative. Karma added balance. She is a well-respected academic. Although writing as a Palestinian, I felt she maintained a significant level of objectivity, as she developed her story. A strength of the book is in how Karmi reveals how much the sparring factions of Palestinian leadership internally weakened their position. She also notes how well the Zionist leaders leveraged this phenomenon, insisting on working with the Arab states individually, thus adding to the fragmentation of leadership of the Arabs.
This book is on my short list of helpful resources to understanding the unfolding developments on the Holy land from the time of the British Mandate until recent times. In addition to providing objective analysis of the period, Karma reflects very helpfully on possible paths forward, since the collapse of the two-state-solution.
“Two rabbis, visiting Palestine in 1897, observed that the land was like a bride, ‘beautiful, but married to another man’. By which they meant that, if a place was to be found for Israel in Palestine, where would the people of Palestine go? This is a dilemma that Israel has never been able to resolve.
No conflict today is more dangerous than that between Israel and the Palestinians. The implications it has for regional and global security cannot be overstated. The peace process as we know it is dead and no solution is in sight. Nor, as this book argues, will that change until everyone involved in finding a solution accepts the real causes of conflict, and its consequences on the ground.
Leading writer Ghada Karmi explains in fascinating detail the difficulties Israel’s existence created for the Arab world and why the search for a solution has been so elusive. Ultimately, she argues that the conflict will end only once the needs of both Arabs and Israelis are accommodated equally. Her startling conclusions overturn conventional thinking — but they are hard to refute.” [from the publisher]