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Staff Pick: Jordan Hirsch

Jordan_Hirsch-small - Copy.jpg In the past few years, Atlantic Monthly journalist Jeffrey Goldberg has established himself as a hegemon of sorts in the field of Middle East reporting. He has earned interviews with the most important players in Middle-Eastern politics, from then-Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain last year to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren in 2009.

Yet perhaps the most important contribution Goldberg has made to understanding the Middle East is his book, Prisoners. The book, which debuted in 2006, depicts Goldberg’s journey from being a heady, idealistic Zionist who dropped out of Penn to enlist in the Israeli Defense Forces, into a disillusioned, embittered soldier manning Israel’s infamous Ketziot prison camp during the first Palestinian uprising. Ketziot, which housed many of the leaders of the Palestinian resistance, robbed Goldberg of his pristine vision of the Jewish State. Though he remained a committed Zionist, he also formed a fascinating relationship with Rafiq Hejazi, a Fatah prisoner with whom he would remain in contact for the next two decades.

Ever the optimist, Goldberg placed many of his dreams for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation in his friendship with Hejazi. Their friendship often flourished in times of peace, and suffered greatly in times of war. Along with providing a fascinating cultural account of the Middle East, Goldberg’s book provides an important lesson to many in the West who view the Israeli/Palestinian conflict as one that can be solved by simply splicing a contested piece of land. At stake in the Middle East are a set of priorities, identities, and politics—of which land, at this stage, is only a component part.

Bio: Jordan Hirsch is an intern at Guernica. Read his last recommendation “here”:

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