Whenever I speak about Israel and Palestine, I get angry and anguished letters from both sides. I understand. The world is going to heck in so many ways – growing population, destroying our environment, killing each other – why not have a few dreams about the good life in the Middle East. Dreams are much more fun than reality. Only a few have the strength to look with clear eyes and at both sides.
Whenever I talk about the Middle East I get lambasted. And when I fail to mention Israel or Palestine I get lambasted because I didn’t. Pro-Israeli listeners brook no criticism whatever of what Israel does. Supporters of the Palestinians recognize the legitimacy of nothing else. Sometimes you can’t please everybody and sometimes you can’t please anybody. So, OK, here goes.
Najla Said could be called the “Eloise” of Academia. Growing up in New York City as the daughter of Edward Said, the famous Palestinian intellectual, and a sophisticated Lebanese mother, it wasn’t rare for Najla to answer the door as a young girl to world-renowned scholars; to sit in on heated political discussions over dinner or to receive a kiss on the cheek by Yasir Arafat.
Yet in spite of her extraordinarily cultured and colorful upbringing, Najla admits to being a young American girl who simply wished to fit in and who often felt conflicted about her cultural background and identity.
Looking for Palestine: Growing Up Confused in an Arab-American Family is her memoir born out of Najla’s hugely popular one-woman show, Palestine, which had a nine-week sold-out run Off Broadway.