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As appeared in Intercom March 2019, 19th Feb 2019
Reviewer: Fr John-Paul Sheridan, Annacurra, Co Wicklow – Intercom, March 2019
In her forward to this book, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Mairead Maguire, writes: these essays are voices of conscience which remind us that, in spite of so much suffering, the darkness is often pierced by the light of courageous Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders. We take hope when we hear the voices of these extraordinary people.’
The book seeks ‘to refocus attention on the lives and remarkable work of fourteen Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders.’ All have a first-hand experience of what life is like in the occupied territories.
What is the aim of this book? It is to simply state that despite the inexorable chaos and violence, regardless of the incessant injustice and daily indignity, and in the face of challenges and insurmountable odds, some people have not given up hope. ‘Both Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders walk a thin line between hope and despair.’
The book contains a valuable timeline, from the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the establishing of the American Embassy in Jerusalem in 2017, and there is a bibliography at the end for further reading. As well as the contributions, there are two sets of photos and some maps. Many of the photos are heart-breaking, as are the contributions. For me, the profoundest and most moving photo was the last one. A Palestinian woman clings to her olive tree after it had been destroyed by settlers. This acts as a metaphor for all those who cling to hope, and who, despite the unrelenting struggle for peace, are not daunted and cling to even the damaged and scarred remnants of hope.
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ABOUT THE BOOK
Defending Hope is an inspiring collection of first-hand accounts by Palestinians and Israelis who movingly describe how their lives have been shaped by conflict and who are united by a common goal: to bring about a just peace for the land they call home.
Time and again these human rights defenders choose love, non-violence and human connection over division and fear. Their stories will transport you to the olive groves near Bethlehem, the rubble of Gaza and into the law courts in Jerusalem.
This book offers a hopeful counter-narrative in an otherwise bleak political landscape and celebrates the indomitable power of the human spirit in the midst of grave adversity.
ABOUT THE EDITORS
Eóin Murray is an Irish human rights activist and writer who has worked in the Middle East since 2004.
James Mehigan is a lecturer in criminology at the Open University and a barrister at Garden Court Chambers in London.
Front Line Defenders is an Irish-based human rights charity, founded in 2001 to protect and support individuals who uphold the rights of others as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
‘These essays are voices of conscience which remind us that, in spite of so much suffering, the darkness is often pierced by the light of courageous Palestinian and Israeli human rights defenders. We take hope when we hear the voices of these extraordinary people.’
Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate and co-founder of the Community of Peace People
‘This inspirational work provides a much-needed reservoir of sanity, humanity and positivity to counter the forces of oppression and disrespect for the rule of law being displayed by major states on the world stage.’
Michael Mansfield QC, human rights barrister and member of the jury for the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and the judicial panel for the People's Tribunal on Iran
‘If there is to be peace in the Middle East it will be because human rights defenders have found hope in the face of the great adversity they face in their everyday work. This work gives us a glimpse of how that hope can be unearthed in these challenging times.’
Michel Forst, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.