Tag Archives: Israel

Dining With Al-Qaeda

Books for the Arab World in Troubled Times

Arabian Night Destination: Middle East

Book: Dining with Al Qaeda (2010)by Hugh Pope

Every Monday for a while now, I’ve been writing about books that might shed some light on the current internal struggles of countries in the Middle East (as well as Iraq and Afghanistan as the center of international warfare) for those of us who  plan to travel there in the future.

Some of the books I have covered are directly about the politics of the situation, like In the Country of Men, and some are poetic, like The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and some are strictly travel books. I think it takes an understanding of both politics and poetry–literature and news reports–for us in the West to build an understanding of the largely Islamic countries of the Middle East and the Arab Spring. Continue reading Dining With Al-Qaeda

Sex and Violence Sells the Crusades

Dome of the Rock North through Arcade
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem

Destination: The Middle East and Jerusalem

Book: Shadow of the Swords: An Epic Novel of the Crusades (NEW June 2010) by Kamran Pasha

How you think depends on what stories you have heard.  There is, as they say, more than one side to a story.  His year I have already read three sides to the story of Richard the Lionheart. Continue reading Sex and Violence Sells the Crusades

This Year in Jerusalem

Destination: Israel

Books: The Bible; From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Freidman; Exodus by Leon Uris

Whether your interest runs to history or contemporary geo-politics, Roman ruins or Medieval times, when you travel to Israel, you will find a country that is exasperating, beautiful, inspiring, welcoming and off-putting all at the same time.

Jerusalem Market photgraph by David King
Jerusalem Market photgraph by David King

Conflict between “tribes” did not start with the founding of the modern state of Israel. The region has been embroiled in struggles since time began. The book that captures the modern conflicts best is Thomas Freidman in From Beirut to Jerusalem. Before his father-knows-best sermons on everything from ecology to world banking made him a best selling author and popular columnist, Friedman was a hard-working journalist who tried to find the truth behind the middle-East conflicts by visiting with a wide variety of people and telling their stories. He delves into the American contribution to the Israeli state and shows that it is not always benign.

As the center of three major religions, Israel has drawn pilgrims for a thousand years.The once mighty Jordan may have shriveled to a mere stream because of siphoning off for farming, but place names like Bethlehem and Jericho took me right back to Sunday School lessons in the little white church in Ohio where I grew up. Unfortunately, I did not have a copy of The Book, the Bible, with me. When I got home I pored over maps and archaeology of the Bible from my father’s library. I used a very old out of print book, but there is a newer one available, on archaeological study of the Bible.

Finally, the birth of the modern state of Israel comes vividly to life in Exodus by Leon Uris, and sheds light on today’s struggles. Since it is now out of print, you can try Amazon or American Book Exchange for a used copy. The movie version starring Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint may be available on Netflix.

Have you been to Israel?What books or movies did you find useful? I would particularly like to have your recommendations for more Bible-related books. My Bible is the Christian one, but I welcome suggestions for religious books that enhance the travel experience for Jews and Muslims as well.