Bethlehem Diary – Living Under Siege and Occupation 2000-2002 — Toine van Teeffelen

I purchased this book in Bethlehem during my visit in October 2004. I finally got around to reading it 10 years later.

In a nutshell, it reads in the style of an expanded diary, and shares the simple and difficult facts of life under occupation.  The author is a Dutchman married to a Palestinian, struggling under military-imposed curfews in Bethlehem with his two young children.

I thought of writing a similar book based on my experience living in Gaza (2012-2013) but I lost my enthusiasm for the project when my laptop crashed and burned in November 2012 and the pages I’d written could not be retrieved.

Lesson learned — always back up anything of importance to the cloud.

Speaking of the cloud, Bethlehem Diary can be downloaded for free here. 

Coincidentally, there’s another diary written by an American ex-pat married to a Palestinian in Bethlehem. Imm Mathilda: A Bethlehem Mother’s Diary by Alison Jones Nassar (2003). I didn’t read this one, but it confirms for me that there was (maybe still is) a fad for such books.

Honestly, I’m now turned off with these books written by foreigners (mostly with good intentions) about Palestine. I’m glad my “diary” in Gaza never came to fruition. That’s not to say that foreigners can’t write very good books about Palestine. As an example, I highly recommend How Israel Lost – The Four Questions by an American Jew, Richard Ben Cramer.

The occupation, siege, daily struggle and injustices are best understood through the pens of Palestinians. I Shall Not Hate by Izzeldin Abuelaish – a Palestinian doctor from Gaza whose daughters and niece were killed when Israel shelled his house, is a great example.

 

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