May 11, 2010
A CONVERSATION ON THE FRONTLINE OF HISTORY
The conversation about the Middle East is changing fast nowadays, both in America and around the world, and here’s a unique opportunity to find out why.
Kai Bird, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, is coming to the Central Library in downtown Los Angeles at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, May 17, 2010, to talk about “Crossing Mandelbaum Gate: Coming of Age Between the Arabs and the Israelis, 1956-1978” (Scribner: $27.00, 384 pps). You can find out more about the event at the website of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.
“Crossing Mandelbaum Gate,” which I previously reviewed here, is unsettling but also wholly fascinating personal memoir that allows us to glimpse the history and politics of the Middle East through the eyes of a young man who grew up, almost literally, on the frontline between Arabs and Israelis.
Bird’s father was an American diplomat whose postings took the family to the Arab neighborhood of East Jerusalem as well as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. But Bird also understands the Jewish perspective, thanks to his Jewish wife and her parents, who were both Holocaust survivors. By his upbringing, professional experience and personal affiliations, Bird is uniquely positioned to reframe our view of what is at stake in the conflict that continues to fill the headlines.
Much of what Bird has to say in “Crossing Mandelbaum Gate” is deeply challenging, especially to Jewish readers, and I predict that his conversation at the Central Library with Nicholas Goldberg, editor of the Los Angeles Times editorial pages, will be a lively and provocative event. But I am also confident that more light and than heat will be forthcoming.
Jonathan Kirsch is the book editor of The Jewish Journal and author of, among other titles, “The Woman Who Laughed at God: The Untold History of the Jewish People.”