A personal journey forces the author to confront her Jewish identity and Western feminism
An American Feminist in Palestine
The Intifada Years
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Sherna Berger Gluck
In December 1987, with the outbreak of the intifada, American TV beamed dramatic pictures of Palestinian children and older women taking to the streets of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem to confront Israeli soldiers. News stories also reported how a small band of Israeli women dressed in black were taking to the streets in West Jerusalem to challenge their government's policy. Moved by these images and emboldened by the example of the Israelis, Sherna Gluck broke a silence she, like so many Jewish Americans, had kept for so long. Her trip to Occupied Palestine one year later began a journey that introduced her not only to the horrors of Israeli occupation, but to the creativity of the Palestinian resistance movement and its transformative potential, especially for women.
Highly sympathetic to the Palestinians, but with vigilantly critical observation, An American Feminist in Palestine recounts the author's experiences over the course of three years as she returned repeatedly to a number of villages and refugee camps. Weaving together anecdotes, interviews, and candid observations, she captures the vitality of the early days of the intifada and the problems that later began to plague the movement after the Gulf War.
"Her sensitive and vivid account evokes [the intifada's] hope and despair, its failures and achievements, and its unending human significance."
"...a serious and conscious effort to grapple with the diversity in feminist thought and practice while resisting the imposition of her own brand of 'Western' feminism on Palestinian women."
"Sherna Berger Gluck communicates the voices of Palestinians, especially Palestinian women, quite compellingly. Careful not to impose the constructs of Western feminism on the women she meets, Gluck is also disarmingly frank in revealing her own personal dilemmas, making her testimony all the more poignant and necessary."
"The critical questions raised by Glucka feminist, a Jew, a U.S. academic and activistin the course of four visits to the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip loom no less large and significant, even now as Israel and Arafat's PLO seek to implement the terms of their 1993 agreement."
"In the years ahead, the need for all Jews and Palestinians to hear each other's voices will remain urgent. I hope Gluck's account will inspire more of us to listen to the Otherand so become larger ourselves."
"Not many middle-aged Jewish college professors spend their vacations in occupied Palestine, dodging tear-gas canisters hurled by Israeli soldiers, and visitingand occasionally staying withArab families in overcrowded refugee camps or tiny houses with no central heating. For those itching to learn how families and feminists coped in the West Bank, Gluck's experiences are worth reading..."
"Power asymmetries breed dominant narratives which violently silence those subordinated within them. Sherna Berger Gluck's book is a welcome attempt at breaking silence on several levels. By proceeding to speak the unspeakable, her analysis points towards a post-modern paradigm of conflict which is just beginning to emerge. ... The criticism and self-criticism through which Gluck gives voice to multiple levels of discourse is a welcome contrast to other similar works.... It is what makes Gluck's book more than a detailed and nuanced testament to the impact of occupation on the daily lives and relationships of Palestinian women and men. An American Feminist in Palestine marks a 'momentous' journey for Palestinians as well as for its author.
Part I: 1988 to 1990: A Time of Hope
December 25, 1988, to January 8, 1989
June 3, 1989, to June 16, 1989
December 27, 1989, to January 24, 1990
Part II: The Post-Gulf War Era: A Time of Reflection
Sherna Berger Gluck directs the Oral History Program and teaches in the Women's Studies Program at California State University, Long Beach. Her previously published books include Women's Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History (with Daphne Patai).