For those hoping to understand the psychology of exile and occupation, I cannot recommend a better book than Return, Ghada Karmi’s memoir of her effort to reimplant herself in Palestinian society as an official in the Palestinian Authority. Her observations of the tension between diaspora and indigenous Palestinian consciousness, and the Jewish/Israeli/western disregard for the Palestinian experience feel true and devastating. Her reflections on her displaced and brilliant father, living out his last years in Amman, exalt the story by enlarging its themes to concerns so many of us share: the intellectual inheritance of our parents, the troubled relationship of the west to the Arab world, the battle between secularism and Islamic fundamentalism.
And for dark comedy, there is nothing like Karmi’s visit to the house she grew up in in Katamon, Jerusalem, a property now occupied by the New York Times correspondent.
On Monday night, I have the great privilege of leading a conversation with Ghada Karmi hosted by Arab Students United at NYU. What a lineup of co-sponsors: Verso Books, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine, Adalah-NY, Al-Awda NY: The Palestine Right to Return Coalition, Haymarket Books, and our website.
I urge anyone who can make it to come; my goal will be to shine a light on a wonderful literary achievement, and to enable the audience to interact with the author. 6:30 PM, 238 Thompson Street.
I see that Karmi will also be in Washington talking to Norton Mezvinsky and Randa Fahmy. Here is the notice I received:
You are invited to attend an intimate conversation about Israel and Palestine with Dr. Ghada Karmi, hosted by the International Council on Middle East Studies (ICMES).
When: Thursday, November 5 from 4 PM to 6 PM
Where: International Law Institute, 1055 Thomas Jefferson Street NW, Washington, D.C., suite M-100.
Ghada Karmi was born in Jerusalem and trained as a medical doctor at Bristol University. She established the first British-Palestinian medical charity in 1972 and was an associate fellow at the Royal Institute for International Affairs. Her previous books include: Jerusalem Today: What Future for the Peace Process?, The Palestinian Exodus 1948-1998, Married to Another Man and In Search of Fatima.
Dr. Karmi will be discussing her latest book, Return, A Palestine Memoir.
Dr. Norton Mezvinsky and Randa Fahmy will conduct a dialogue with Dr. Karmi, followed by questions from the audience. Dr. Mezvinsky is president of ICMES and professor of history emeritus from Central Connecticut State University. Randa Fahmy is President and CEO of Fahmy Hudome International (FHI), and was Associate Deputy Secretary of Energy in the Bush Administration, after serving as Counselor to U.S. Senator Spencer Abraham.