by David Grossman, Translated from the Hebrew by Haim Watzman (1988)
In early 1987 Israeli novelist David Grossman began seven weeks of encounters with West Bank Palestinians to write an article for the Israeli weekly Koteret Rashit commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Six-Day War. Confessing that until then he had allowed himself to regard Palestinians as an impersonal mass in order to shield himself from the moral dilemmas posed by the Occupation, Grossman vowed to “direct my gaze at the invisible Arabs, [and] face this forgotten reality.” The book struck a deep chord in Israeli society, and The Yellow Wind became a bestseller. (Book review by Catherine Willford)
This little paperback has been sitting on my shelf for many years. I don’t know how it first came into my possession. I don’t recall buying it, maybe it was a gift. Sadly, I never read it until the summer of 2016.
I wish everyone was as open to seeing “the other” as David Grossman was as he prepared this book. It takes courage to first, acknowledge the blinders one has been wearing for many years and, second, to take them off and leave oneself open to honestly hear and see “the other.” David Grossman has that moral courage.
After reading many books about the Israeli occupation written from all the different angles, I thought I’d learned about as much as I could, but I learned alot more from The Yellow Wind. Grossman puts himself into these stories, exposing his own discomfort and personal feelings as well as honestly setting forth the narratives of “the other.”
Grossman has cultivated an extensive list of contacts in the West Bank, and apparently has the ability to listen and ask questions without judgment. We could all learn some lessons from his skills as a journalist.
In a very good interview earlier this year (March 2016), Grossman said:
“We have to allow the Palestinian story to infiltrate into our consciousness. We have to understand what makes them so rageful, so hateful, that they run in the street and stab us so massively, for so many years now… Only if we allow that, maybe we shall not be at war with them.”
He’s written a new book — “A horse walks into a bar” — which I’m going to search for at the library. I was going to mail “The Yellow Wind” to the library in Gaza but I’ve decided to share it with members of my family who haven’t shown that moral courage. These stories about the Palestinians in the West Bank, in Israel and in Gaza told by a Jewish Israeli writer might help gently pry their blinders off.