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Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  718 ratings  ·  90 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 ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published June 3rd 2008 by Scribner (first published May 22nd 2008)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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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.
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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 ...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
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
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
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
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
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
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: kate
Marvelous walk and politics/history book combined
Reem Ka
Feb 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book takes the reader on a journey through the Palestinian villages and its landscapes. The author has done an excellent work in terms of describing the landscapes.

I have read many books on the Palestinian conflict and almost none of the books in which I have read have had a detailed focus on the landscapes and the issue of the illegal settlements as covered in great depth and detail as in this book. Also, keeping the author’s legal background in mind, the book has brought more knowledge to
This was a hard but amazing read; Shehadeh really succeeds at both the natural and political aims of his writing. Here is a potted history of his favourite walks and his activism and relationship to the land of the West Bank, plotting a clear map of the progression Isreal's strategies for claiming the land. The chapters get shorter as you go - as the walks do, because of the blockage and destruction of the landscape. However, Shehadeh refuses to succumb to the temptations of polemic or ...more
Anne Tucker
Jan 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Fascinating read - that managed to include so much politics alongside the walks (which wasnt what i had been expecting).
Each walk comes closer to the present (the first one is in 1970s before much of the israeli steelement building had really started). The last one is the most tragic - Palestinian villages imprisoned withon great enclaves of Israeli villages, with roads that Palestinians are forbidden from using, water that is kept for Jewish settlers and hilltops, farms and olive groves smashed
Oct 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The book has been instrumental in giving a historical record of what's going on in the Israel _Palestine conflict , and how challenging it can be to live there . Still the author after fighting one sided (hard handed) legal battles, continues to explore and get out of the crucial stage of his life without meanings by starting to write . In the process preserving the beauty which no one will ever be able to witness now. A must read before we take it as a battle of religious conflict , which it is ...more
Alexandra Sundarsingh
Nothing about Israel or Palestine is ever not political, but Shehadeh, having stepped away from his most intense activism, isn't writing a manifesto. Through the lens of the places he loved to walk, and the growing unavailability of those spaces - for pleasure, for peace, for solitude - due to the politics and legal changes of his homeland, Shehadeh makes politics human in both scale and impact. I finished the book impressed, touched, and saddened, but also moved that the story of literal land ...more
Amy Jicha
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended as a counter-voice to the Israeli books I'd been reading. I found the perspective necessary, brimming with deep & personal reflections on the land. Reading it while in/near these locations gave me a much richer understanding of their meaning. The writing is often long-winded and I skimmed much of the directional descriptions, finding them unnecessary. Yet, I still recommend it. Tracing the author's personal story alongside the conflict's is worthwhile.
Robert Wechsler
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
An incredibly intelligent and readable book that give us the point of view of a Palestinian lawyer who spent years trying to prevent Israel from taking land from Palestinians. The book takes the form of walks in the West Bank over a period of decades. It ranges from beautiful descriptions of the landscape through history, memoir, and legal cases (not enough of the latter for me). It all works.
Rand Hamad
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
this book is enjoyable, we lived every moment as Raja shehadeh remembered his childhood and memories when doing the six walks through Palestine. it's somehow also sad as a palestinian to read how my country was drastically changed over the course of history and with the occupation conrolling most of the land.
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Good to see from the point of view of a Palestinian. Would be more convincing if it wasn't so one sided. Talks about the good things in Palestinian culture without mentioning the bad - the sin nature that pervades all of our human cultures.
Amy Starr
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If there's one book this year everyone should read, this is it. 1 year ago stood on the "wrong " side of the apartheid wall in Palestine, and won't look at the world the same since. This book gives you a glimpse.
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This nonfiction work expanded my understanding of the conflicts between Israel and Palestine. The author uses the tool of walks in his homeland over a number of years to illustrate the confinement of the Palestinians in their homeland because of encroachment of the Israelis. Highly recommend.
Mike Barnett
Dec 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing. I can't believe I've never heard of him before. I am going out and immediately getting everything else he's written.
Lee Razer
Jun 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book by a secular Palestinian lawyer and activist focuses on the changes that have taken place to the land in the West Bank, both legally and physically, since the start of the Israeli settlement project. It is loosely organized into a series of six walks, or sarhat, an Arabic term for a long, meditative walk in the wilderness. It is also a bitter elegy for what is now gone - a time when the hills of the West Bank were undeveloped and a Palestinian could walk freely without fear and ...more
Kate Page
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I struggled a bit with this, and the mix between the walking/personal stuff and information on Palestine didn't work all that well for me. I thought it would....
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Middle East/North...: Palestinian Walks by Raja Shehadeh - Palestine 54 67 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 ...more
“Aku ada buku, aku tak perlukan pakaian atau sepatut khusus untuk berjalan ke perbukitan.” 18 likes
“Meskipun aku suka sekali pohon ru, kuakui mereka seperti penjajah. Merekalah bukti betapa manusia telah menelantarkan bukit ini pada kuasa alam. Warna mereka hijau gelap, tak seperti pohon zaitun yang hijau kebiruan, dan mereka tinggi besar, seperti berusaha menguasai negeri di mana mereka menancapkan akar, memaksakan diri mereka atas bukit-bukit ini. Seperti pohon zaitun, akar mereka dekat dengan permukaan tanah, bentuknya bersimpul kemudian lurus seperti buku-buku jari. Kedua pohon itu sama-sama mengais demi sepetak tanah yang sama, sehingga sulit bagi keduanya untuk hidup berdampingan.” 4 likes
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