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Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  812 ratings  ·  107 reviews
Raja Shehadeh is a passionate hill walker. He enjoys nothing more than heading out into the countryside that surrounds his home. But in recent years, his hikes have become less than bucolic and sometimes downright dangerous. That is because his home is Ramallah, on the Palestinian West Bank, and the landscape he traverses is now the site of a tense standoff between his fel ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Scribner (first published May 22nd 2008)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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Aug 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran
Well, you see, Aborigines don't own the land.They belong to it. It's like their mother. See those rocks? Been standing there for 600 million years. Still be there when you and I are gone. So arguing over who owns them is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they live on.

-Crocodile Dundee
I see this as a book about land and the felt relationship to land. Raja Shehadeh spent much of his professional life fighting legal battles for Palestinian landowners, strongly motivated by patriotism. Bu
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: that unravels gavels tapping on catacombs
Recommended to Mariel by: veins flood with blue water that dictates every step
There is a heaping, sun-blotting eyesore on the interstate in Florida. Whenever I drive by it I inevitably ask myself "What the hell is that big ass eyesore?" I say it out loud and gesticulate for dramatic self righteous effect (I'm in a car. I'm an asshole too). It's beyond tacky. It flirted with hideous and dated butt ugly before settling down with bad taste. Some kind of white and gold building thing with signage that becomes impossible to miss once you've noticed it because it says "The Holy ...more
Jun 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: those interested in Palestinian history and lands
Under the general plan of a book describing walks with family and friends on the West Bank in the general area of his home in Ramallah, Shehadeh presents a story of land, religion, geography, nature, peoples, politics, betrayals. As the laws governing the lives and land on which the Palestinians live change over the course of these walks, (from 1978 to 2006) rights and walks become more circumscribed, nature is trampled, the future looks dimmer. Somehow, through writing, the author finds a way t ...more
Asim Qureshi
May 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This was such an incredibly moving account of the ways the landscape of Palestine has shifted through the ongoing occupation and settlements of Israelis. Told from a human rights lawyer who loves to take long walks through the Palestinian countryside, we are given a more intimate insight into who change has taken place not just in terms of the law, but in the very geography of the simple act of walking.
Kamila Kunda
Can you imagine that the meadows and hills you enjoy hiking on can be annexed by people, deciding to settle on the land which had belonged to your nation and establishing that land theirs? This is exactly what happened when the state Israel was created and to this day Israelis illegally grab larger and larger areas of Palestine and give them to their citizens and Zionist immigrants.

Raja Shehadeh’s “Palestinian Walks. Notes on a Vanishing Landscape” is a nostalgic, personal reflection on six walk
Aug 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author takes us on seven walks through the landscape of the West Bank while telling us stories of the land, the history, the politics, the people. Shehadeh is a Palestinian lawyer and author who has hiked the Palestinian hills for decades. He describes a rapidly changing land that most of us will never see as these hills are leveled and the landscape re-shaped. By the end of the book, as he describes the unrelenting destruction to the landscape, I wondered how he could possibly not give up o ...more
Katey Flowers
Jun 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tender love letter to the hills of Palestine, that also expresses the bitter heartbreak that flows from the settler colonial violence enacted upon the land and its people. Devastating and beautiful.
Ghada Arafat
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kobo-reads, palestine
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is full of emotions and facts that would help the reader how it feels to live in Palestine. Looking forward reading other books by the author
Sep 17, 2009 rated it really liked it
By recalling the walks he's taken and been prevented from taking in the hills around Ramallah, Raja Shehadeh provides a unique perspective on the fortunes of Palestine and the meaning of Jewish settlement in the West Bank. Shehadeh is an uncompromising nationalist - much of the book deals with his disgust with the PLO, an organization he believes betrayed the Palestinian cause in the Oslo accords and which is far too concerned with the trappings of power rather than the health and well-being of ...more
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is excellent writing about personal feelings and experiences. While each chapter focuses on a particular walk the author took and describes what he saw and did, in each case the particular time and place called up thought and feeling primarily about the increasing isolation and powerlessness of Palestinians in their own land. Sometimes one wants to remind Shehadah, as did the Israeli settler he encountered on his last walk, that change happens, modernization intrudes into pristine land ...more
Andy Oram
Feb 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Awe-inspiring as a feat of writing, as a political statement, and as a
paean to lost Nature. The writer's insights into human character are
also impressive, and the book even takes on spiritual depth as it
proceeds. The indictment of Israeli human rights violations--backed
by American supporters--is powerful. But aside from the nationalist,
racist element, the book also chronicles a trend in modernization and
despoilation happening all over the world, from the Amazon rainforest
to the watersheds of Chi
Aug 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: palestine
“𝑇ℎ𝑒 𝑃𝑎𝑙𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑒 𝐼 𝑘𝑛𝑒𝑤, 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑙𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝐼 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑡ℎ𝑜𝑢𝑔ℎ𝑡 𝑜𝑓 𝑎𝑠 𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑒, 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑞𝑢𝑖𝑐𝑘𝑙𝑦 𝑏𝑒𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑠𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑚𝑒𝑑 𝑏𝑒𝑓𝑜𝑟𝑒 𝑚𝑦 𝑒𝑦𝑒𝑠.”

Raja Shehadeh narrates a beautifully detailed yet devastating account of 𝗣𝗮𝗹𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗻𝗶𝗮𝗻 𝗵𝗶𝘀𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘆, 𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗼𝗹𝗱 𝗯𝘆 𝗶𝘁𝘀 𝗰𝗵𝗮𝗻𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗹𝗮𝗻𝗱𝘀𝗰𝗮𝗽𝗲 over the course of the ~30 years he, as a lawyer, fought for the right of Palestinian landowners to their land. Shehadeh is an avid walker, hiker and nature lover, and as such, has narrated in this book the 𝘀𝗶𝘅 𝗺𝗼𝘀𝘁 𝘀𝗶𝗴𝗻𝗶𝗳𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗻𝘁 𝘄𝗮𝗹𝗸𝘀 𝗵𝗲 𝗵𝗮𝘀 𝘁𝗮𝗸𝗲𝗻 over these years.

Apr 20, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I so appreciated this as a memorial and an indictment. The legal aspects were so interesting and the human aspect of having to accept your life's work fighting in the courts has failed. Just so insightful and uncompromisingly honest even though the result was both heartbreaking and scary. ...more
Sanjana Ganesh
Jun 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shehadeh's sarhas (walks) are more telling about the situation in Palestine today than any newspaper article. ...more
Sarah Aron
May 18, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Israel didn’t just wake up one day and suddenly become an apartheid state. It spent decades using legal manipulation, physical violence, and a whole lot of US dollars to systematically oppress Palestinians and tear apart once beautiful landscapes. Shehadeh reminds us of what is at stake and what has already been lost to Palestinian families who have cared for the West Bank over generations.
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
For anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of the on-the-ground facts in the Palestinian Territories, this book is an excellent resource. The author does a really beautiful job of sharing how the landscape has changed over the past 40-50 years. His dedication and perserverence is really impressive, though also heartbreaking since he knew he was fighting a losing battle, yet still he continued to try. He ultimately chose to channel his energies into his writing and his passion and love for ...more
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an incredible and heartbreaking book, beautifully written and devastating in its effect. I now feel totally pessimistic about the situation in the West Bank.
They would take a few provisions and go to the open hills, disappear for the whole day, sometimes for weeks and months. They often didn't have a particular destination. To go on a sarha was to roam freely, at will, without, restraint. The verb form of the word means to let the cattle out to pasture early in the morning, leaving them to wander and graze at liberty...a man [my only sadness that this was mostly men] going on a sarha wanders aimlessly, not restricted by time and place, going where h
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hasten to assert that there's nothing wrong with the content of this book. On the "walks, landscape" side, the book describes many appealing walks in a setting different from anywhere I myself have hiked, and I certainly felt the regret that Shehadeh presumably meant his readers to feel about the fact that so many of these walks would no longer be possible. On the political side, although having read many books already about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict this year means that the general out ...more
This is a beautiful and heartbreaking story. Mr. Shehadeh walks through areas of Palestine that he used to walk as a younger man and describes changes in the land, his life, and the country's politics. It's amazing how he smoothly weaves together so many aspects of the complicated situation. He makes it easy to understand why the people who were living there for generations before Israel was created have been frustrated and struggling since 1948.

This book gives you an education in the history o
Jun 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written account of the walks taken by an human rights lawyer in the hills surrounding the West Bank. Raja Shehadeh tells a first-hand account of the gradual and violent encroachment of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. As a lawyer, who has fought the illegal settlements in the Israeli courts, the reader gets an insight into the views of the author on resistance towards settler colonialism, which changes over the course of the book, as he recounts the development of his tho ...more
Oct 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Admittedly a bit of a dry book as the author focuses on land law in Palestine. However, the details revealed through his experiences in Israeli courts and from his walks in Palestine were fascinating to me. Nowhere else have I read such a clear analysis of what actually is happening on the ground in the West Bank in terms of settlements and the fight over the land.

Without going into the nitty gritty of land use law, the following sums it up fairly well:
"We were aware that the main argument the I
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: israel-palestine
“Take a walk” is pretty much my answer to everything life throws in front of me. Walking can heal you, change your perspective, give space to new ideas, put your mind to rest, it can connect you with nature, landscapes, buildings, other people, yourself.

It is no wonder I really liked the idea of Raja Shehadeh’s book - Palestinian Walks: Notes On a Vanishing Landscape. I’ve had it on my to-read list for couple of years and I finally managed to get it and start reading it just this last week. I ac
May 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read that helps the reader understand the history of Israel colonizing Palestine while enjoying the landscape and natural beauty of Palestine
Catherine  Mustread
Mar 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Catherine by: Orwell Prize
Loved this book for it's combination of history and personal insights on the complex situation of the Palestinians and Israel, geology, topography and description of the terrain, and walking -- the last of which ties all the rest together. Raja Shehadeh's love for his native land is well described but several far less complimentary quotes are included from writers who visited Palestine: William Makepeace Thackeray in Notes On A Journey From Cornhill To Grand Cairo and Mark Twain in The Innocents ...more
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I have such mixed emotions about this book. I was hoping that, after reading it, I would better understand the Palestinian side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I do...a little...but not enough. The book wandered all over the place. I never knew when each walk was taking place or where. Detailed maps would have very helpful (There were two maps but they were insufficient). The author would name someone walking with him, tell us a little about him or her, then all of a sudden, there was anoth ...more
Jun 19, 2008 rated it liked it
I thought this would be more like a travel piece, describing hikes through the Palestinian areas, and it was that to a degree, but it was more a series of essays on the theft and destruction of traditional areas by the Israelis, who, he argues, have destroyed the historical and environmental region. He uses the essays to recount his participation in representing local interests, and mourns the loss of space and people. A much more serious book. Native Americans might read this and think "Yeah, b ...more
Jun 20, 2008 rated it liked it
I was recently in Israel with Jim traveling with his Israeli Jewish country leader. Just had to read something about the Palestinians to keep my mind open. The book is written by an Palestinian Arab attorney who shares his thoughts over a 20 year period. He loves to walk in "his hills" and now because of continuing Jewish settlements has fewer and fewer opportunities to do so without getting shot at, questioned, stopped, turned back, etc. Helpful to understand all the place names if you have had ...more
Stylistically this wasn't my cup of tea. But even putting that aside, as much as I understood Shehadeh's point of view, I couldn't help but see him as antagonistic. I know, given the Palestinian situation it's his right... but I don't know how this book is supposed to help matters. ...more
Seth J. Vogelman
Aug 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
A facile and misleading litany of complaints, distorting history and willfully ignoring or omitting a number of crucial facts. A classic example of Palestinian propaganda wrapped in a saccharine sweet cover.
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Middle East/North...: Palestinian Walks by Raja Shehadeh - Palestine 54 68 Apr 24, 2016 01:56PM  

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Raja Shehadeh is the author of A Rift in Time, When the Bulbul Stopped Singing, Strangers in the House, described by the Economist as “distinctive and truly impressive,” and Palestinian Walks, for which he won the 2008 Orwell Prize. Shehadeh trained as a barrister in London and is a founder of the human rights organization Al-Haq. He blogs regularly for the International Herald Tribune/New York Ti ...more

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