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The Yellow Wind by David Grossman

The Yellow Wind

by David Grossman

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“One morning, soldiers came to the house and notified her that she had fifteen minutes to get all her belongings and her daughters out of the house, after which the house would be leveled. Sometimes, when I hear about the destruction of houses in the West Bank, I wonder what I would remove from my house during that quarter hour – the basic necessities, I suppose; bed linens and cooking utensils. But what about the photograph albums? And my manuscript? And books? And old letters? How much can you get out in a frenzied fifteen minutes?”

In 1987, Israeli novelist David Grossman spent three months on the West Bank, journeying to Palestinian camps and Jewish settlements, talking to university students, army reservists, villagers, prosecutors, everyday people, ordinary people living divided, exiled lives. As he explains:

“I wanted to meet the people who are themselves the real players in the drama, those who pay first the price of their actions and failures, courage, cowardliness, corruption, nobility. I quickly understood that we all pay the price, but not all of us know it.”

The ‘Yellow Wind’ refers to “the wind that will come from the gate of Hell (from the gates of Paradise comes only a pleasant, cool wind) – rih asfar, it is called by the local Arabs, a hot and terrible east wind which comes once in a few generations, sets the world afire, and people seek shelter from its heat in the caves and caverns, but even there it finds those it seeks, those who have performed cruel and unjust deeds, and there, in the cracks in the boulders, it exterminates them, one by one”.

It is an emotional, painful read and as with Grossman’s fiction (at least with To The End of the Land, the only other of his works I’ve read) well written. ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
A very compelling, insightful, and frank depiction of the human face of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Written 2 decades ago as part of a reporting assignment, this collection of articles is based on a 7-week encounter of the author with the Palestinian refugees and Israeli settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Grossman listens to their stories, asks penetrating and oftentimes uncomfortable questions about the occupation, tries to understand where they are coming from and what dreams they may have. He visits homes, kindergartens, universities, a radical Zionist settlement, and observes, probes, reflects without passing judgment. Together with him, we witness the pain and humiliation of dispossession, the bitter anger against the occupiers, the deep mistrust of each other, the intransigence of positions. We see his struggle with his inadequacy to make sense of the seemingly unending cycle of violence and fear, and we too feel a sense of futility. In a kindergarten, 2-3 yr old boys point make-believe guns and shoot him because he is a Jew. In a meeting with Israeli "terrorists" or extreme right members, he asks if they can imagine being in the Palestinian's shoes, and is told off saying this is a question they never ask.

This book earned international acclaim but, not surprisingly, was controversial at home. Grossman came out of this experience with the message that the occupation of one people by another degrades the moral and political life of both the occupier and the occupied. And this message would underlie what Grossman would later become, an outspoken peace activist.

Written 20 years ago, the actors might be different, but the message has not changed, and the questions remain. Essential reading for those who would like to understand even just a bit of this complex issue, from the perspective of those who actually live there. ( )
1 vote deebee1 | Oct 31, 2009 |
This was an interesting book, but it disappointed me. It provided important information often not acknowledged, but I found much of the writing unclear. I had heard so much praise of David Grossman I'm looking forward to reading his fiction and expecting more clarity. ( )
  suesbooks | Sep 25, 2007 |
first hand report of the palestinian situation
  gillis | Jan 15, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312420986, Paperback)

The Israeli novelist David Grossman’s impassioned account of what he observed on the West Bank in early 1987—not only the misery of the Palestinian refugees and their deep-seated hatred of the Israelis but also the cost of occupation for both occupier and occupied—is an intimate and urgent moral report on one of the great tragedies of our time. The Yellow Wind is essential reading for anyone who seeks a deeper understanding of Israel today.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:08 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Translation of: ha-Zeman ha-tsahov. An account of the author's three month journey on the West Bank of the Jordan River and his awareness of the moral dilemmas inherent in the Palestinian predicament.

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