experiences in israel where she's lived off and on since 2006. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> good afternoon, welcome. i'm the director here at the hudson institute, a son sore on islam, democracy, and the future of the islam world which publishing a journal on islamism called "current trends in islamic ideology," which i co-edit with my colleagues ambassador haqqani and eric brown. it's my pleasure to host today's event. its subject is a wonderful new book by my guest, lelya gilbert, and here it is.
its title is "saturday people, sunday people: israel through the eyes of a christian so jowrner," and ms. gilbert is here to discuss her book with us. before introducing and turning to the book itself, let me say a few words by way of introduction about herself. she has had a very impressive and varied career, much of it concerned with the arts including music. she has been a song writer and worked extensively with musical groups including an african children's chorus based in uganda and based of uganda and orphans. she passed on her gifts two her two sons, colin and dylan. colin is a gifted photographer, and his photographs on this cover of the book. dylan is a gifted song writer
and musician. as the work in africa may suggest, she's been an extensive traveler. in africa, south and east asia, europe, and, of course, the middle east. by far, the lanchest -- largest part of her work is an author, and also as a quiet partner. she has, in either way, more than 60 books to her credit, and these cover a number of generas, poetry, fiction, both adult and children's. she's the author of an adult or magic trilogy if i recall correctly, and a children's series called "tales of the king," but a lot of her work has been non-fiction, and that, too, has coveredded a vired of subjects. some of her nonfiction dealt
with the issue of single motherhood, but a good deal has dealt somehow or other with the issue of religion in human life, in politics, and in social life. this is including a book on the difficulty journalists frequently have in properly understanding religion as a motive in events, and the book, itself, is called "blind spot" don't together with roberta, and my colleague, who is here today, paul marshall, published by oxford press and won several literary prizes. it's also included work on a book entitled a table in the presence which was written by lieutenant commander kerry cash which concerns his experiences as a chaplain in combat in iraq.
another portion of her work, also within the general area of religion, has focused on the fate of christians around the world, and in particular, their prevails in recent years. this included the award winning "their blood cries out," also co-authoredded with paul marshall, and "eyewitness to a broken world," and cox is a distinguished member of the house of lords, famous as a campaigner for human rights and for christian rights. there will also be out fairly soon another book called "persecuted: the global assault on christians" to be out in early 2013. this brings me tore most recent book, the one we are here to discuss with her. i have many questions to ask
her, but before doing so, let me say a few general things about this book, my own, as we say these days, take away from it, and then hopefully i will have gotten it right. we can get into specific questions that arise from it. this book is, fist, as the subtitle indicates, a book about israel as seen through the eyes of a christian, a christian so sojorner who is now six years and counting. in the introduction she writes the best explanation for the level of time is the connection she formed with the people in israel saying the connection was unexpected because, as she puts it, "when viewed from afar,
israel does not seem to be about people at all." what she means by that is conveyed in the following way. to read about israel as she says in international media is typically to meander through an assortment of abstract discussions, some about politics, some about religion, some about history, rights, armed conflicts, resistance movements, terrorism, debates about justice, injustices, dringses of -- descriptions of holy sites, and, in fact, the endless stream of words amounts to little more than cold cat gorizations, especially of israelis, labels that she said, "can rob the warm hearted, lively people she came to know as the decency in humanity." all of these things provide little, if any feel for the actual way of life.
it is that above all things that i hope to portray in these pages. let me say at the outset that i think that lela has fulfilled this hope in particular, to portray israeli people and their way of life. that is important since i think she's right about how the world knows about israel, through the various issues she enumerated, above all war and peace. i suppose i should say this is a way people mostly know other countries. mostly from afar. mostly through what journalists write about them and what they occasionally see on tv. they don't have an intimate since of what people in life are like there.
the question would be what's different in a way about the people in israel? there is a difference, and the difference is because israel is so much in the news, so frequently in the news, and so much in terms of the issues that people, i think, come to think they do really know this place, and they know certain particular things about it. when, in fact, there's really, of course, very little sense of the actual place of what goes on there, and that is first and foremost what this book says it was its ambition, one that's been fulfilled. of course, this book is also not and cannot and does not neglect the large issues, the issues that lela enumerated in the
passages that i read for reasons she stated herself. "it's inevitable the people affected are influenced by politics and conflict." one can't help but talk about that, and, also, it is part of what the people she has come to know are formed by. as it turns out, during her six years, the six years she's been in israel, that coincides with three wars. the lebanon war of 2006, a war during which she arrived in israel and remarkably enough stayed. the gay is -- the gaza war of 2009 and the gaza war of 2012 most recently.
among the things i want to talk about is your experiences of war, what your own experiences of war are like. i suppose they are rather different than the experiences of a lifetime spent mostly in southern california. [laughter] i want to say, though, about the -- these issues, the experiences of the wars, of peace, and so forth are, of course, part of the portrait she provides. what i think is important in her count is that the events, and to the extent she discusses the issues involved, they are seen powerfully through the people she's come to know and direct experience of what these events, these issues mean on the ground in israel to the people who live there.
this leads to a second general point i want to make about the book by way of description. almost inevitably, the large issues which concern israel lead and led her to a still broader and larger concern. this is conveyed by her primary title "saturday people, sunday people." this "saturday people, sunday people," it may be a term you've now introduced into the american jargin, but it is a term from the middle east, and it means what you might guess it means. saturday people are jews and sunday people are christians, and, of course, there are the other people who are muslims. the term "saturday people, sunday people" is -- can be used mutually, but it's also been used in the context of
expressing a notion favored by some radical muslims that first the jews and then the christians are to be removed from the midst of the middle east and other mostly muslim places. it's -- they are not saturday people, sunday people, but, first the saturday people and then the sunday people. the first is the saturday people leads to a topic that's also very much a part of the book, but it is not primarily connected with a frequently declared aim of some people who want to destroy israel and the institution of inhas been tans, but rather than her entree to the slogan, this notion, is, perhaps, unfortunate prospect, where events which were all
together unknown to her and largely forgotten or ignored generally, at least until very recently. referring to the wholesale expulsion of jews from arab and muslim countries that occurred largely between world war ii and the early 1970s. this expulsion, immigration, exodus, the case where she points out in the case of the egyptian jews who numbered about a hundred thousand, they presumably refer to it as their second exodus. this amounted to nearly a million people who belonged to jewish communities of very long standing by which i mean really long standing and more in the case of the jews of iraq, the jews of iraq came there curtesy of originally nesser in 580bc and have been there ever since
until the present day when they are practically speaking no jews left in iraq. they were not only expelled, but were stripped of all they owned. majority of them and their desen didn't -- descendents live in israel. this reflects on the issue of palestinian refugees, but it was a story completely, according to israel, largely unknown even today, and the story that lela tells, but she tells it in keeping in character of the book through the stories of individuals she met and interviewed. people who came from iraq, came from egypt, came from other places and have come to live in israel. finally, this -- this particular subject for the reason i
mentioned before, "saturday people, sunday people" leads to another subject or a second part of the subject which is the menace or rather the actuality of persecutions christians are now experiencing in the muslim world under the impact of radical islam. these communities are also my -- milennia owned and predate the founding of islam in the 7th century, and in places like egypt, still are substantial, but they -- these communities are now facing similar fates of jews, and a portion of the book, lela addresses this subject, both partially reporting the data that we have on what's going on in these communities, and not only in the middle east,
but in the greater middle east, places like pakistan, indonesia, and so forth, but, also through christians. she's met who have a direct experience of this. this story is also powerfully documented. one further point i want to, general point i want to make about the book, is to raise a general question to whom is this book addressed? who might benefit from it? well, many people. i hope, i think it's a very suitable gift for the holidays. [laughter] people will go out and buy it. it's not only a very informative and moving book, but it's a very good read because lela's a very
good writer. it would say there's several appropriate audiences. first, writing as a christian american is natural that one of her audiences with other christian americans, or at least other non-jewish americans. since it's, you know, conceiving such an audience, that describes of what jewish life is like in israel, and let me say about this, she is remarkably well-informed, a testament to her own curiosity and the hospitality she found among israelis. i should say that perhaps a number of aspects of israeli life and specifically jewish experiences which may be largely unknown to american jews as well. lot of americans jews have never been to israel, and, in fact, the vast majority have never been, and, you know, jewish life
looks different there than it does here. that's one subject we'll talk about, and one is israelis knowledge of what christians are like. they are being relatively few and in a different way. i think american jewish reader would also profit much from knowing what life in israel is really like. they too often know israel largely from headlines, typically about war and peace. what would be important for them and other audiences to know is something that lela's putting in the following way. even when israel is under the constant threat of war, the real substance of the land and its people is not compromised. it is war and peace. you know, war is not all it is about, and what -- or rather
what is the substance? lela puts it this way, "life for israel jews is not focused on death and destruction, but on life and construction." they have built a wonderful country, and they are still building it. there's one final audience that might -- i might mention, and that would be israelis. they might be curious how they look or rather all the things they take for granted about life looking through someone else so perhaps some israelis will pick this up as well. let me conclude with one final point, and then get to some questions, and let lela have her piece. as i mentioned at the outset, lela has been and is opposed, and it's worth mentioning, there's much poetry in the book.
the narrow meaning of poetry, poems, some jewish, ancient and modern, some non-jewish, including her own, but more generally, i want to say there's much poetry in the book, and the people that she describes, and i have a number of personal favorites which i think poetry of the book we'll talk about as we go along. let me -- you can tell me what i said wrong about the book, or answer questions i should ask, but let me start in the following way. in a way, the first question, the most natural question to ask you about this book, and especially a personal book is
why did you go to israel, and why did you stay? i'm not going to let you answer that yet because i want to come back to that after we talk about a few things, and i think the first thing to focus on is, in a way, one part of the substance of the book is you say after, you know, coming to israel for whatever republicans you came there and experiencing it, one thing that you were powerfully impressed by was the number of misconceptions and misunderstandings about israel, and, of course, as you know, perhaps also actually intentional misrepresentations so you form the ambition, and
that was partially what led you to write the book to correct those misconceptions and misunderstandings, and editorially i will say that it seems to me you're in a very good position to do so precisely as a christian sow -- so gurner, not exactly have skin in the game, and from the point of view of israeli jews and arabs and so forth so you decide to do that, but the question is, i guess, i want to ask you straight off is, what after being there, seemed to you, the most important misconceptions? the things that really, most important from two sentences, the ones that most -- seem to most contradict reality that you
see if you actually are there, know israeli people, know, you know, live an israeli life, and the other side, you know, the other notion of importance of what is the most important for other people to know, most crucial for proper evaluation, so -- >> [inaudible] >> there's several you take up. >> yeah. >> in this book, several very important ones, and where would you begin? >> well, i suppose i would begin with the things that everyone worried about when i left because most everyone i knew thought i was crazy, and they thought i was going into a war zone, and i was going to be killed, and as i turned out, i went into the war zone. i was not killed, but i think one of the ideas that people have, people who have not traveled there, and maybe some that have that have been in certain areas is that there's barbed wire and there's bunkers
and everybody's thinking about a war that's going to strike at any moment or an explosion or something like that, and that just simply is not the case. at least in jerusalem where i am, one place where it is the case is unfortunately in the area around gaza where the rockets from time to time are bombarding civilian population. people are running into bomb shelters, but most of israel is very, very peaceful, unusually peaceful. i went on a drive before i came over here up to the very north, and i went up as far as the lebanon border, and i was struck by the placid surroundings of the country, and i thought about it even then how it would be hard to explain to people what a grandful place. we went up to see a bird sanctuary because the migrating birds, many of them go through israel on their way to africa, and so there's masses of cranes
and pelicans and all sorts of birds, but the whole surrounding, the whole country is peaceful. my garden is peaceful. that's not to say things don't blow up. they do. it's not a fright ping -- frightening place. i've never been afraid there; i've been cautious, but never afraid there in six years. that's one thing. the other thing is the appartide state stuff which is ridiculous. it's the only place where jews, arabs, and christians sit and eat in the same restaurants, go to the same stores, and rub shoulders in the malls, and it's very evident because of people dressed to reflick their beliefs and so it's not difficult to know who is who, and they are all together, and particularly, thursdays and fridays, friday mornings at the mall. it's just packed, and everybody's together. these are things -- these are a
couple of things, and i guess the third one, i'd say is that israelis are bullies, and it's, you know, it's a culture of thugs or people that are really -- even the idea of the prickly cactus with a sweet center, i know a couple really prickly people, and several here. [laughter] i don't think that's fair. the people that i have met and they are from all kinds of backgrounds, have been, like, family to me. almost immediately. it's all of this stuff just seems like fiction, and it really is fiction, but it's written authoritatively by media and various groups, and so that's what we have. those are probably the three that i would point out. >> let me ask you a little bit about, a little bit some things further about these three misconceptions, and some --
rather prompts you to tell us a little bit about what you report in the book, itself, for example, the first one struck me myself was the issue of the israel as an appartide state. not so much because that's the only thing, but rather it happened when you were there that the book came out with that as the title. >> uh-huh. >> and it also happened that you came to be acquainted with a minister who was from south africa, reverend malcolm headings, and who was, himself, a pastor of a biracial church in the old south africa. >> uh-huh. >> before the overthousand of the regime and was basically
told he better go before bodily harm, and he wound up in israel as the head of international christian embassy for jerusalem, and i gather you have in your report, you had a conversation about him with -- >> several, actually. >> about what's the real experience of it and how he would compare that to what he experienced in israel. >> yeah. well, he was really very hot-headed about the subject because he lived with it, and he was government, and, in fact, they had sent a journalist to his church to infiltrate -- >> when he was in south africa? >> when he was in south africa, and the guy warned him to get out of the country and the guy warned him you're going to be locked up. he fled, and he fled to israel, and then the next thing you know, there's carter's book. i said, how do you compare the
two? he said they, for example, when he took someone from his church, there was a black man that was part of the church, they could not eat in the same restaurants. they -- he couldn't go in with the church pastors to have lunch. they had to -- they had to go in and get lunch and sit and eat in the car so they could be together. they couldn't use the same restrooms, very much like the deep south before the civil rights movement, and, you know, there's nothing like that in israel. in fact, the judge that -- one of the judges that made the decision as to the former president of israel being jailed for sexual assault was an arab. there are arabs everywhere that are both pro-israel and not pro-israel, but they are actively involved in the community, and the same with christians. it's an absurd -- the wall, i
guess, is what they use as the prop for this because they put a wall up to protect the israelis from suicide bombers, which has been about 90% successful. that was the prop, and every has their picture taken to it if they are anti-israel, and so that's kind of where the jump off point was with carter's book. he never actually said it was in the book, but they just used the hook as a title, and then this sort of ongoing accusations so -- but malcolm heading becomes red in the face when the subject arises. that's how he feels about it. >> you tell of other things in the book that, you know, that reject the notion that essentially arab or muslim for that matter, and populations are
simply separate which would be, you know, should be the reality if -- there was a couple examples you gave from, i suppose, the sublime to the semiridiculous. beginning with the ridiculous. you -- there's a relatively new mall outside the old city called the minilla mall, and i gather at one point you were trying to buy some cosmetics there in a shop, and couldn't get any attention -- >> right. >> the jewish sales woman and the arab customer were deeply engaged in a very long discussion of -- >> eye shadow. [laughter] whether it should be frosted, whether it should match the head scarf or not, and, seriously, i went from there to lunch, and i
thought i was meeting a friend, a jewish friend, and we were going to sit at the table overlooking the old city, and an arab family came in ahead of us, and next to us was an orthodox jewish family sitting, and we were trying to get a table, which we finally did, but the entire atmosphere is like nobody's paying attention. everybody's saying what they are with their dress, and i say "everybody," of course, secular jews don't dress noticeably different than anybody else, but you know -- >> american tourist, describe the american tourist. >> fannie packs, right. [laughter] most of them are over 60 and have fannie packs. that's how i describe them. yeah, it's so mixed, and mob's paying any attention. it is laughable. it is ridiculous. >> and still somewhat more serious and, perhaps, it's
sublime, an example you mentioned or one of the things is a woman you met who works at the hospital which is in the religious quarter of jerusalem. >> uh-huh. >> and i gathered -- well, tell what her job is and what the hospital does. >> well, she's the personnel directer at the hospital. she is not a religious jew, but it's a very ultra orthodox hospital keeping every kind of kosher so anybody can go there, but what was surprising to me was 40% of their patients are from the west bank and are arab, and they make a new schedule for ramadan every year so everybody gets to eat at the right time, has the right food. she went and took, learned arabic because people coming in
for treatment were told terrible things about israel that they would be put in danger or abused, and she learned arabic to comfort the parte. they have the only io al sis unit in the country for awhile, and they drove a shuttle, picked the people up for free, brought them in, and they were treated. the whole atmosphere was to make everyone not only comfortable, but able to observe their religious obligations, so the ultra orthodox were making sure there was rom dan food served at a time, but it was the effort they went through, and the effort she went to and her concern she could sit and talk to people and comfort and encourage them that they were perfectly safe. that is really typical, and, in fact, there's many stories of people that have come in for treatment and have had their mind changed by the way they were treatedded in israeli
hospitals, not just medically treated, but treated as human beings with the same curtesy that any jew or nip else would have. those stories abound. even i went to visit -- there's a man who is a ugandan pastor, a convert from islam to christianity. he came quite an outspoken evangelist for christianity after his conversion, and he had a church of a thousand people, and on christmas eve a year ago, he had acid thrown in his face by someone who said albar when he threw it, turned the head before he threw it, right side, lost his eye entirely, extremely disfigured, and wearing a full mask right now because of skin
graphs, but he came to israel. his way was paid. his medical exeenses were paid by israeli donations, and he's at the hospital, and the treem there that he's received and as a christian and as a black african has been phenomenal, and he's going to be -- he's never going to be okay, but he is so impressed with israel and so impressed with the way he's been treated and the way people he knows have been treated that he can't stop talking about it, and i interviewed him, and we and saw him and talked about his experience, and he represents, in my mind, the antedote to some of these lies. he has -- he flies in the face of just about all of them, and so that would be my best answer to that.
>> we've been talking a little about what israel isn't. gradually moving into what israel is or what -- so, you know, what -- actually, let me back up, there was one thing i wanted to ask you back, back to the war issue, and how one experiences war in israel. part of that, as you say, there are -- there is a big difference or has until recently been a difference in certain parts of the country, and the way the whole country has a citizen army, and when there was a war, people are called up from every part of israel as they were in
the most recent war, 75,000 troops ultimately on the gaza border, and i'm sure there was almost every place in israel represented, but on the exceptional event, and the more regular experience of war largely has been in the south, a long time supporter, they wrote, and so forth, and, you know, one thing, the way this issue is typically treated here is that i think the way i think i put it is body counts. >> uh-huh. >> this came up very much clearly in the most recent gaza war where i have heard a number of people say, well, 160 palestinians died, and only five
israelis died, and so it's been -- >> disproportioned. >> disproportioned, and it's always a little bit bizarre because that implies somehow that it would be better if hamas were a better marksman or israelis took less error to protect themselves, but -- but this also ignores what sort of is the day in and day out, and i know you visited people in different communities along, and what you have to -- what your experiences of their life is because their war is more or less every day. >> well, that's right, and what really -- i have never seen in any report in the u.s. in any main news has been the story of these people that live with the constant sirens that go off
every time a rocket is close by, and they have 15 seconds to get into a bomb shelter. i went to visit some elderly people. they were some of the founders, and they were oh, probably 65-plus, many of them in their 70s. they had not slept through the night. this was in 2009, and it was during the operation, but in the months proceeding that and part of what triggered it was this constant bombardment, and people hear about this in a way that is backwards. they hear that israel has made a strategic strike on a particular person or a particular target, and that that was responded to with the rockets. that's the way it's reported most of the time, when, in fact, the rockets have been going -- there have been over 12,000 rockets in the last ten years,
and some of them are small. they are made in grandma's garage, but a lot of them are no longer small. they are iranian or larger that are not just what they call small rockets. these people have to get up and run every time there is a siren. they do it because they know it can be killedded and people are killed, whether they are killed in great numbers, it depends where it strikes. these people were taking antidepressants, and the children in the area were all bedwetters. they had three day weekends elsewhere where they could sleep in a hotel with no disturbances. they are elderly people. my children will not visit. how can you be here? i didn't hear sirens, just explosions. we were less than a mile from gaza. these people live that way, the
mothers that have to get their babies into the shelter, there's a little piece i quote in the book written by a mother, which child should i grab? she has five chirp, which one do i take first? you know, every time she's making these decisions so that state is ongoing. it has -- it's quite now because of the recent so-called truce with hamas. everyone knows it will start up again. i went to the north after the lebanon war, my friend, janet, and i, was on the tour i was on, and we were in israel in the 2006 war. there, the north was bombarded with larger rockets. we went and saw some of the places they struck, a whole half a house gone. people had gone to jerusalem or else they had gone somewhere else. most were not living there, but some were in shelters for a month, living in the shelter.
the state of war in israel is such that it's such a little country. people say it's the size of new jersey. even if it's the south, everybody's got a relative there. everybody's kids in the army there. it's not like america where, you know, you hear of this. this is everybody's problem. the phone starts ringing when these things heat up, and my phone, and particularly, recently, when we had sirens in jerusalem for the first time in 30 years. that was an interesting experience because there you find yourself saying, okay, should i take a shower or not take a shower? [laughter] you know? or, you know, am i going to sleep in the normal pajamas because i have to go down and be with the neighbors in the bomb shelter, and i don't want them to see these pajamas. they are stupid thing to think, but the consciousness of it pervades everything. the state of war in israel is an
op going danger, ongoing threat and a consciousness, but it's also a way of going on with life no matter what, and that's what israelis are best at is that they just go on. they celebrate life. they don't just sit around and worry. they have dinner. they have parties. it's a culture that's celebrates life in the face of danger. that's what i really would say sums up the culture. in many ways. >> so that's, you know, shifting from the misconceptions of what life is really like, since you mentioned the north, i, in the book, you mentioned that when you were there in a city in the north of israel that you met with the mayor, and he was, i guess, substantial doubting in the rubble of the city hall or
something like that. >> yeah. >> but what was his -- >> well, the people there who have been in shelters for almost a month were very upset that the war ended when it did. they wanted it finished, and they said we'll live in shelters for three months if it's the end of it, but his view was they burned trees, we plant a hundred trees. we rebuild and prepare for the next time because someday we're going to be the gateway to israel, and the lebanese will come, and we will have dinner together. that's our goal. we want to be the gateway to the north, and he was all about building, and rebuilding and plants and trees are a very big deal in israel. it's the only country in the world that has more trees at the turn of the 21st century than it had at the beginning of the 20th century, and everybody plants trees every time they turn around, and so the first thing they do is go out and plant
trees and more trees are burned, and that's what he talks about. it's a defiance, but it's also a spirit of building and life and, yeah, the people were sorry the war ended when it did, and everybody knew it ended badly because it was cut short of success, but they just wanted to be able to get to peace and live their lives again. that's what they wanted to do. >> i think you mentioned that it's something of a joke in israel that building cranes are called the national bird. >> right. no, that's true. one of the nice things is the fact that you can't hear any heavy equipment because all the rest of the week it's jackhammers and everything's always being built. it's noisy. it's so much about construction. >> the other thing you mentioned a good deal about, your positive, you know, impression
or experience or not impression, but experience now, it's really a deep experience in israel is music. >> uh-huh. >> i want to say a little bit about that and, also, you seem to sometimes say it surprised you actually. >> yeah. well, i didn't know that jewish families sang together at the table and, of course, on holidays. you know, christian culture, there are praise and worship songs sung in church services generally or maybe at camp, you know, but here in israel, there in israel, every shabod, and i noticed this the first one i listened to in my apartment, i heard singing all along the block, and these families come together and when they bless the food and when they bless the end of the dinner, they sing together, and various free
spirited singing. people are not self-conscious. they just sing as if they've always done this, and you hear it from house to house to house. holidays, friday nights, saturday nights. saturday evenings, and i also heard people practicing instruments, walking down the street, somebody's playing a violin or practicing the flute. everywhere i went -- >> how good are they? >> some are better than others. some are beginners. [laughter] sometimes there's a find piano. there's one story that overlaps into the subject of settlements because i went with some friends that invited me to a concert, and they didn't explain -- they are not good at explaning anything. actually, they just say we'll pick you up in ten minutes. [laughter] i got ready. i thought we were going to the jerusalem theater, and we kept driving and driving and driving, and it's getting darker. i ask we were going, and it's
where the prophet jeremiah was born, and it's a settlement. we get to the last house, the very end of the barricaded road, and we're definitely in a settlement. the next thing you see are the lights across the way in jordan, and we went inside, and the man who lived in the house invited about 20 people, friends and family, and he was the first chair violinist of the israeli syphony for years. he's retiredded now, but a friend of his from moscow was there, a christian man actually, and they decided to have a concert. we were sitting there listening to the finist violin music in a living room, not even a third the size of this place. this is what they did on a night during the week. i think it was a thursday night,
and then some wine maker that was local brought his best wine to share with everyone, and that was a night of the settlement, and that was the music that these people lived with, and it was so much a part of the soul of the place that it really -- i'll never forget it. i felt like i should have paid a hundred dollars to hear this man play, and it was just a friendly gesture so that was one of the most moving moments that i had in the country, but there is music ever where, and even the kids walking down the street, it's like a musical comedy. army guys suddenly all burst into song in the middle of a block, and i mean, my kids would never do that. [laughter] but they, you know, it's just so much freer and much more open and much more a part of the community so i do enjoy that very much. >> i gather there's some people
that think music should be appreciated by goats as well. >> apparently. >> someone played the piano for the goats? >> oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. there's another place i went, and outpost settlement, and they do goat dairy products and chickens, and when the -- in the barn, this beautiful big barn, sun lit barn with skylights even, when the goats are milked, there's a piano at the top, and someone plays classical music while the goats are being milked. [laughter] i guess it makes better milk. i don't know. >> let me ask you about a subject that is a very big part of the subject -- well, it's really two subjects. it's the situation of jews and christians in the middle east and in muslim countries. one-half of the story is an old
story by now. it's the story you tell about jews who lived in arab and muslim countries, and now resided in israel, mostly or some, you know, substantial members of people who wound up in the united states, and in some cases in france. the other side of the story which is the christian communities that still lived in the countries or did up until very recently, for example, you talk a little about the iraqi christians. >> uh-huh. >> and as it was about a million, i believe, at the time of the -- about 2003, it's now down to about 40,000 -- >> i'm not sure.
>> it suffered particularly grievance harm, and last christmas, the church of baghdad -- >> a couple years ago, yeah. >> i mean, i know it's a grim subject, especially in this season, but i want to say something about how you approach this in the book, how, i mean, i know, and in the past you have done a lot of research on the situation of christians in other countries, but this sort of dove tails with what you found happened with jews from other countries. >> right. well, first of all, i came across the subject when i was attending a conference in israel which i have attended actually for several years, and i had a
blank spot on my calendar, and i wandered into a workshop, and i found myself hearing these stories of these people that had fled arab countries, and it turned into an emotional scene because after a few speakers and the pam told their more formal stories, the q&a was weeping of people talking about leaving their parents, their homes, leaving their grandparents behind sometimes, and i had no idea what nay were talking about. i read history books before going to israel, martin gilbert's israel, "story of the jews," read several of those books, and there was no mention, really, i don't think there was more than a passing mention of this, and that they were 850,000 jews, at least, expelled from arab lands between 1948 and 1970, and i couldn't believe
this had gotten by me, and when i started talking to israelis about it, they said, well, yeah, you know, i said why suspect this common knowledge? well, there were a lot of reasons, and nobody knows why. part of it was because israel was suddenly welcoming in arab-speaking jews who everybody was uncomfortable with. people were living in tent. it was a very difficult time, but moving on from that what i found out after interviewing iraq and egyptian and i focus on three countries in the book, morocco, a mild case, and then iraq and egypt, and what's happened now is that there are almost no jews in iraq. i don't think there's -- egypt, nobody -- it's very, very low. i don't think there's more than ten or 20, and now the christian communities are completely being
assaulted, much more informally in iraq. it's been, you know, assaults by various al-qaeda groups or terrorists from this faction or that faction, but in this case as was mentioned, a catholic church was bombed on christmas eve, and, you know, 57 people died, and i happen to get some photographs from a military friend of mine which never, i don't think anybody ever published. there were dismemberments. it was not just bombs or guns. it was -- there there was mutiln done intentionally before it was cleaned up, and i saw, myself, beheadings. two or three people beheaded. when, i don't know, but it was an angry assault, and it was not just a neat and tidy shooting, and this has repeated and repeated in iraq. it's, i think that one of the real traj jewish --
tragedies is that a lot of people went to syria to flee, and now they are getting it from both sides. they are getting it from the state, and they are getting it from whatever the rebellion is made up of which is changing every day. we have that with the christians in the wake of the jews being expelled. a man i just met, an old man from iraq who had to flee in 1970 with his wife, and he said that christians didn't see the writing on the wall. they didn't see it coming, and they should have seen it coming because saturday people, sunday people. same thing in e just a -- egypt. egypt is in terrible risk right now. there's a huge christian populationing and what's happening is the one that are rich are leaving. the ones that can afford a lawyer and asylum counselor and air ticketer are leaving, but what's left are the very poor. where are they going to go?
on foot. you have sudan, libya, and israel. israel is putting another wall up because there's so many infiltrators they don't know what to do with them. they can't walk there either. it's a massive refugee problem waiting to happen. it's the pattern that repeated itself over and over again, and i don't even know how to sown the alarm just to prepare for what's coming in terms of refugees. it's going to be a nightmare, and, yeah, i -- it's paul marshall and i just finished -- i think we're finishedded -- you think so? >> finish it. >> he just finished, i'm finished. ..
would've been here and it boils down to this. it is a way in which the situation where they had a place to go and there was no discrete part of the country which could be just christian. except with a massive dislocation. >> there is no israel for christians is the point. >> yes, and i think that this should actually be appreciated. it's not my place but you complain of christians really aren't paid enough attention to. >> even in the west. >> that's correct.
>> i think there are a couple of reasons. some particular groups of christians don't necessarily identify with the ancient churches. there are people that have very old liturgies and don't think of them in the same way as themselves. so we have that issue. and it's hard. when you have a church growing up every sunday in nigeria, it's almost like it reaches a point where no one is listening anymore and it's going on and on. and we have tried to, we've tried to put real stories and real people involv t it's hard to get people interested in it. to believe that there is something that can be done,
going through channels and prayer. but it is difficult. it is difficult to make it interesting and to not turn away. >> i should say that singly, if i have the reference correct, you welcome the southerners and that was the man who was a priest who was living in bethlehem? thematic know, that man died a couple of years ago. >> this was one of those -- it seemed to me it was a sad story. what he mostly had to talk about was how christians were being driven out of west bank by
muslims. but his own life story was very charming and interesting and he came from nineveh, which is in northern iraq, and was a native. it was true and it turned out that the israeli police in the old city, several of them went out of the city. >> yes, he was grieved because they couldn't visit back and forth since all of the changes that have taken place. they couldn't go to bethlehem and visit. so he was really sad. he was quite old and sick and he missed his friends. they all used to hang out together and he used to come and see them. >> it's a rare thing. >> that's correct.
>> there are two villages in syria. >> just the churches. the liturgies. >> this whole man was interesting as well. oldest story in nineveh before he left. he was the priest of a church that was devoted to st. mary and they had the feast of saint mary every year. this one particular year, or women covered in black went to the feast and after they had finished eating, they went to him, and the community was mixed. so at that time it wasn't so hostile between the religious groups. they asked if they could go in the church and he said sure, and they went in and they pulled off their veils and face coverings and they prayed.
and he's watching this, trying to understand what is going on. when they completed their prayers, they got ready to leave. and he said, may i ask you what happened? what was that? and he said one of them said that they had been armenian children kidnapped and married to these men and they have never forgotten. so they came into the church to pray whenever they could. they were preaching and this was just two or three years ago. it is an interesting movement beneath the surface. but he was a lovely man and he was quite ill, and he is gone now.
for example, it is a general question. for example, when you went to see what happened, what was made of that? but was made of you? would we really know about christians and what we think about them? >> i will start by saying why i went to israel because that leads into the rest. my father was an ardent zionist and to send $15 a month and my mother thought that we didn't have enough money to send it. so i always thought that i would go again. then i found out later. and i thought i would go with him. but he died before it went down. so i was actually on a trip to
egypt in 2006. there's a beach in which you can see saudi arabia and jordan and you are in egypt, and i thought, if i don't get myself there, i'm never going. i'm going to be like moses. having seen the when, but never entered. so i made a reservation on some mileage that i had and i decided instead of doing a tour, i would rent an apartment for a few months and take my work with me, which i did. and i ended up going during the war and i wasn't sure what was going on in the i wanted to come
back. i did come back to work every few months. i made so many many good friends. i had more good things ahead in california. i didn't know what happened quite frankly. i can tell you that i have not mastered the hebrew language which is one of the great failures of my life. but i still don't want to leave first of all, there are a million kinds of jews and religious sections and secularist and those who want nothing to do with any of it and then every degree of certain ways of tipping the hat. so i don't know what a monolithic jewish community is. the same is true of christians. they are the heir of christians who have very little to do with
the evangelical western christians to go there for various reasons. and it is just a hodgepodge. what people think of you as my they are going to think of you personally. i don't think rimini people are judged on their christianity or judaism must they are totally obnoxious. [laughter] >> there are a few of those. >> the fear amongst the orthodox is that we have an angle of bringing forth armageddon before it's time and i don't know anybody that does that. i heard the story that is what these folks thought. and i never knew them that had this.
so there is that fear and people get over that once they get to know you. so the courage of becoming a christian under the threat of death, i think one is very impressed by that very moved by that and we all are because he bears on his body the suffering of true faith and of courage and i think he has a good message. >> you're not supposed to be reading. [laughter] >> i have many more questions.
one issue comes up powerfully in the book. it comes up in different ways. someone was asked why didn't people make a big deal out of it? well, one of the things that was responded to was we were not about looking back. we were about starting over in rebuilding and that is what we are today. it is true today that there is more of an attempt, partially
because it has bearing on the palestinian refugees but otherwise, people were not inclined to raise it. it was more about getting on to life and leaving in life. similarly, it is another aspect of this. not every family has lost someone in terrorist attacks. but every family has a friend who was also a friend of a friend. nonetheless, that has to do with
but there was a spectacular commando raid which rescued people who had been taken hostage by terrorists. he was the only casualty on the other side. >> he was also the older brother of benjamin netanyahu and there was another brother as well. so he was quite a great hero in the eyes of the israeli people. but the point of it is that everyone has been touched by death and by loss and horror. but people recognize that life
is precious when they face these things. and i think they really do want to celebrate it. when the first sirens went off in jerusalem, i thought something had gone wrong. i didn't really get it right away. then my neighbor said, are you all right? and i said yes. and she said well, you know, you have to come to dinner. it was a friday night and i really didn't want to go because i wanted to surf the internet and see what happened. i couldn't really use my phone. and she said, well, put it in your pocket. so i went to this dinner and we suddenly forgot all about it. we talked about everything under the sun.
yes, the siren may go off again. if it does, we will figure it out. but life is not controlled by all of that. it is controlled by a spirit of hope and faith. and that's the undercurrent that i see. >> thank you very much. is there anything else you'd like to say? >> no. >> i think i said it. >> thank you. [applause] >> you are watching booktv on c-span2. forty-eight hours of nonfiction authors and books every weekend. >> we would like to introduce you to trim on. she is the author of this book,q "darkroom: a memoir in black any
befo white."re ms. weaver, tell us about your book to it is about my family's emigration to the united states. we settled in alabama right on the time in history where civild rights was pretty dramatic. in >> where do you live now? >> i live in tuscaloosa which is 60 miles up the road. more r almost another more recent my century that my small hometown. >> and your book, "darkroom" is erth about these experiences that yod had. h i want to start about your father. what did he do for living inacks what was hiso experience like? >> my father was a teacher and
yet a background also in thehe e ministry. th and he was an amateur photographer that did some freelance work. not placed centrally in my book. >> i wanted to ask about his cr, ministering.and you he had been assigned to some as churches and you're right abouti that in here. what was his experience? >> well, before i was born, inme 1948, my father came to the united states and he studied ath a seminary in new orleans. and hed went around where he encountered two schweizspok segregation even in the church. >> at one time he spoke at a black church and invited the choir to attend the service at a >> ge church? >> that's right. >> what happened is that the white church was not happy with that atll all. my father and his friend, who it
the pastor of that little fired church, he was fired. my father's friend. >> at some point, your father talked on the ministry? >> yes, he did eventually. >> h >> because of his experience inn alabama? >> not necessarily. bck the family went back to argentina. i was born during that time. tat and he was a pastor there andta there was a city that he do that in and he decided to come back to the united states and the opportunity to teach took precedence over the ministry. wt >> did hish experience shape this? >> it's possible that he did. in 1965 he saw some shocking hown things in the baptist church iny my hometown. armed
and there were deacons in theais vestibule of the church there were armed with chains and guns ready to turn away worshipers should they show up.him, ande that was a stunning experience for him.it. and he was marked by a. who >> who was jimmy lee jackson? >> yes, he was 26 years old, and activists, he was in my home was town of marion. and he was shot by a state trooper on the night of february 18, 1965. eight days later, he died.t days and it was his death thathat spurred the march to montgomery. so most people don't know it wao jackson's death that brought it about.nd it >> i would like to's show our viewers what the inside of your
book looks like. and it's done in a graphic novel form. why is t that?as the >> yes, i am the illustrator as well as the author. art is my first love and this is the way to tell my storyas a wa visually.orate not only because of my background, but because i could incorporate some of the images p of photography.book. that is why it is called "darkroom". >> what do you today for livingt >> well, after writing and illut illustrating this book, i have devoted my time to my book tosr, her in speaking to classrooms andiver universities and otherwn i'm also presenting a possible
second work. >> when you visit argentinan today, are you an argentinian or an american? >> it's a funny thing. down there i do feel somewhat fi like a foreigner.cellently, and i don't speak spanish the excellently or fluently. but i do love it. m the culture is mine and i feelee more american.s especially in alabama i don't feel as american as they doalso elsewhere. >> ways that? >> it is not diverse.up from we have the setup for manythe et decades that. alabama did not have the influxi
of immigration but other places, in. we are still a black-and-white society with a few hispanics sprinkled in. you in in fact come you mentionedcrm that you weren't necessarily asly w discriminated against because they didn't havedi any terms or latinos were spanish-speaking people. >> that is right. we were objects of curiosity. now there are more hispanics in the region and unfortunately there is also more xenophobia. >> alabama has instituted one of the harshest immigration laws in the united states. very similar to arizona. >> you have a chapter in here gl about young girls when schools: were first integrated.
who were those girls? host: y >> are you speaking of young african-american girls? my, well, public schools in my arear were integrated two steps. the first step was the freedom of choice, that's what they calo the when parents have the opportunity to send their children white schools that they wanted to. shy, so my first roommate was one girl that was painfully shy andw then when i was in the eighth grade, the public school wasy fully desegregated. t that's when the race is really begin to mix in a way that had not been possible before in that area. gr >> where your children go to dar school? >> my children are grown now. my youngest daughter is un finishing up her degree at the university of alabama.w of course, they grew up in ahey
fully desegregated school. so they had a completely different experience to is it in different, in your view, today inma alabama? you kids think that it's very foreign to what they now? >> well, it is different, yet there is enough, i believe, about sentiment that provides the they can easily believe thac it was as bad as itk was. they can look back through the lens of their current experiencg with seeing racism around them. you can still see signs of it. >> you have asserted in your book about your book. can you talk about this? >> yes, it was my fourth grade alabama history textbook.abou9 r
i remember being about nine or 10 years old and i remember it being shocking to me the way they portrayed the civil war ini the antebellum period, especially slavery. and i came upon that book again and the reference section in o tuscaloosa.es i was stunned to see how raciste language was end the institution of slavery. ces >> the cook comes in bringing a great tray of food.r life you have known all your life and love her very much. >> here is the book. it is called "darkroom: a memoir in black and white". is
university of alabama is thehera publisher. as one other thing i wanted to asky you is you right you wereen yout surprised to see african-americans when he first arrived in alabama. >> yes. >> it is where i was born and where i lived my life. but it is a culture composed ofs europeans primarily. in there are indigenous people and they mostly live away from thedh city. few even to this day there are very few african-american people of dissent. >> you were watching the tv on c-span2. starting at 7:00 p.m. eastern, peter bergen is joined by a panel to discuss the border between pakistan and afghanistan.