Israel describes itself as a Jewish state. What, then, is the status of the one-fifth of its citizens who are not Jewish? Are they Israelis, or are they Palestinians? Or are they a people without a country? How will a Palestinian state—if it is established—influence the sense of belonging and identity of Palestinian Israeli citizens? Based on conversations with Palestinians in Israel, Sleeping on a Wire, like The Yellow Wind, is essential reading for anyone trying to understand the Middle East today.
What sets this book apart from others about the Palestinians are the harsh questions Israeli journalist-novelist Grossman asks and the blunt answers he elicits. Reproducing his conversations with Israeli Arabs from all walks of life, he offers readers a rare opportunity to hear the voices of Palestinians criticizing their own society. Some of the issues addressed: Why is it that the Arabs in Israel have produced little of lasting cultural significance? Why has the Jewish state's attitude of rejection virtually paralyzed the Arab minority? To what extent are the Arabs themselves responsible for the state of affairs in the Arab-Jew interface? Grossman is sympathetic to the Arabs of Israel, to their exclusion from the mainstream and their daily hardships, particularly at the hands of the Israeli Defense Force. At the end of his thought-provoking work, Grossman ( The Yellow Wind ) warns that Israel, by its callous treatment of one-sixth of its population, is ``creating for itself the enemy it will run up against after its other enemies have made their peace with it.'' (Feb.)