Natacha P's Reviews > Christians in Palestine

Christians in Palestine by Jean Rolin
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Aug 17, 12

bookshelves: middle-east, christianity, christian-palestinian
Read in May, 2010

I read Jean Rolin's book called Christians in Palestine (titled Chrétiens in French) in... about 2 hours. I'm not sure if I absorbed it so quickly because I wanted to know what was going to happen next or because on so many levels I felt I, or close family members, could relate to it so much... Probably a mix of the two. It's basically his account of his encounters with Christian families and church leaders while in Palestine/Israel, as well as Christian-Muslim-Jewish relations there. Thanks to having visited Palestine/Israel, I felt like I was right there with him, in Bethlehem and Jerusalem and Ramallah visiting those places and families...

I'm a proud owner of this book (which for some reason was pretty hard for me to find), but reading it definitely felt bittersweet. Bittersweet because it's such a complex situation, and because this book highlights another layer of complexity within that very complex situation...

I definitely can't and won't pretend that I know what Jean Rolin felt during or even after his experience that led to the writing of his book. But I just got the impression that his conclusion was a sort of "this was a rather pointless effort on my part"-kind of closure. I felt like maybe he went into his project with so much hope and enthusiasm only to end up feeling a bit let down by the shocking and unexpected reality of things... of course that's my own interpretation of it.

But regardless of how he felt, if I could, I would honestly thank him for going through all that and for caring enough to write a book about it because it really moved me. Thanks to the personal writing style, I was so absorbed that I sometimes felt like he was writing it specifically for me, like I was witnessing something that so few others care about.

Just as Edward Said's biography moved me, this did as well (although of course, in an entirely different manner). Jean Rolin, a French journalist and self-proclaimed non-believer (at least at the time? who knows if that has changed or not) didn't have to care and to decide to take on a project all by himself concerning Christians in the Holy Land. But he did. And for that, I truly respect and praise him. And I'm sure others more familiar with his work (like the whole country of France perhaps? since that's where his work is well-known) do as well.

This is a must-read for all, but especially for Americans who are already often provided with a one-sided view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and are sadly even less aware of the CHRISTIAN Palestinian (note: non-evangelical) population present in the Holy Land.
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