With everything else that is happening in North Africa and the Middle East, why have hostilities resumed between Israel and the Palestinians? Is it a separate issue, or part of something much larger?
What is going on? Do we really know?
We see Palestinian kids throwing rocks at Israeli tanks, and the bloodied bodies of Jewish children torn asunder by incoming rockets. But what does all that really tell us?
We know that the Israelis get bombed by Palestinians who believe they are denied a homeland, and retaliate by bombing them back; and we have varying levels of understanding that this has been going on for decades, or perhaps centuries, or even millennia in one form or another with each side blaming the other.
But how many of us have a firm understanding of why? Finally, that is about to change.
Fox News Pentagon Reporter Jennifer Griffin and her husband NPR editor Greg Myre, both with extensive experience covering international affairs and especially the war torn areas of the world - much of it together - have just released a collaborative book titled "This Burning Land: Lessons from the Front Lines of the Transformed Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."
Reporting from Jerusalem, Myre and Griffin witnessed a decades-old conflict transformed into a completely new war.
An editorial description of This Burning Land states that extremism can become a virtue; moderation a vice. Factions develop within factions. Propaganda becomes an important weapon, and perseverance an essential defense. While the Israelis and the Palestinians have failed to achieve their goals after years of fighting, people on both sides are prepared to make continued sacrifices in the belief that they will eventually emerge triumphant.
They note that while the West has learned a lot about asymmetrical war in the past decade, many strategists have missed that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become one of them. This Burning Land reveals the importance of applying these hard-won lessons to the longest running, most closely watched occupation and uprising in the world. The entire conflict can seem irrational - and many commentators see it that way.
While raising their own family in Jerusalem at the height of the violence, Myre and Griffin look at the lives of individuals caught up in the struggles to reveal how these actions make perfect sense to the participants.
This book goes straight to the heart of the conflict: into the minds of suicide bombers and inside Israeli tanks. We hear from Palestinian informants who help the Israeli military track down and kill Palestinian militants.
Israeli settlers in isolated outposts discuss why they are there, and we hear the frustrations of a Palestinian farmer who has had his olive grove cut in half by Israel's security barrier. Their book explains how the landscape of the conflict changed and why the traditional approach to peacemaking is no longer valid.
This Burning Land displays the important lessons that can be learned by viewing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an example of modern, asymmetrical war, while providing a balanced and detailed look at the fighting based on first-hand experience and hundreds of interviews.
Myre and Griffin have been covering international affairs since the day they met in 1989 at an overflowing soccer stadium in Soweto, South Africa, where several of Nelson Mandela’s prison colleagues received a thunderous greeting following their release from decades in jail. At the time, Myre was a reporter with the Associated Press, and Griffin was a college student taking a year off her studies. Several months later, they were present as Mandela himself walked to freedom.
They covered the dramatic final years of apartheid in South Africa before moving to Pakistan in 1993. From their posting in Islamabad, they covered the tumultuous years of Benazir Bhutto's rule. On one memorable day, the man who orchestrated the first bombing of the World Trade Center, Ramzi Yousef, was arrested just a few blocks from their home - and across the street from the bakery where they picked up croissants most mornings.
They traveled regularly to neighboring Afghanistan to witness that country's devastating civil war and more-or-less spent their honeymoon under rocket fire. They were among the very first to interview members of an obscure group that was just emerging and calling itself the Taliban. They landed next in Nicosia, Cyprus, and traveled extensively throughout the Muslim world, covering phony elections in countries from Iran to Iraq to Syria.
They headed north in 1996, spending three years in Moscow, reporting on the final years of Boris Yeltsin and the early days of Vladimir Putin.
They returned to the Middle East in 1999, settling in Jerusalem. It seemed like the calmest place they had been in years, and they decided it would be a good place to start a family. They soon found themselves raising two young daughters and covering the worst fighting ever between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
They covered every major event, from the peace talks of 2000 - to the Palestinian uprising that came later that year - the terrible bloodshed that included frequent Palestinian suicide bombings and Israeli military incursions - the election of Ariel Sharon - the death of Yassar Arafat - the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza - the rise of Hamas - and the Israeli-Hezbollah war of 2006.
During this time, Myre was a reporter for the New York Times and Griffin was the correspondent for Fox News. In their years abroad, they traveled to more than 50 countries and reported on more than a dozen wars and conflicts. But they found none so gripping as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and covered it for nearly eight years.
They now live in Washington, where Greg is a senior editor at NPR's Morning Edition program, and Jennifer is Fox’s national security correspondent, based at the Pentagon. To schedule interviews or learn more about This Burning Land you can conact Greg Myre at firstname.lastname@example.org; or email@example.com.
You can order "This Burning Land" from these outlets:
Saturday, March 26, 2011