Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis

June 2nd, 2010

Even with respect to our most benign domestic issues, it seems impossible for most people to see both sides of an issue. With respect to perhaps the world's most contentious issue, the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the ability to see both sides is near impossible and has been so for over 60 years. Journalist and historian Kai Bird has done the rare thing of not only seeing both sides, but living on both sides in the Middle East.

Kai Bird came of age amidst the Arab/Israeli conflict. He thought he fully understood the catastrophe and plight of the Palestinians until he married a Jewish woman, whose parents were holocaust survivors. In his book Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and Israelis, 1956-1978, he tries to make sense of the intersection of the catastrophes of two cultures, in a region that never seems to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. My conversation with Kai Bird: