When the Bulbul Stopped Singing
Life in Palestine During an Israeli Siege
Raja Shehadeh, Colum McCann
With a new introduction by Colum McCann and afterword by the author, this unforgettable narrative also tells a story that is universal and timeless, the fear and humiliation of living daily life under military occupation.
The Israeli army invaded Ramallah in March 2002. A tank stood at the end of Shehadeh's road; Israeli soldiers patrolled from the roof toops. Four soldiers took over his brother's apartment and then used him as a human shield as they went through the building, while his wife tried to keep her composure for the sake of their frightened children, ages four and six. This is an account of what it is like to be under siege: the terror, the frustrations, the humiliations, and the rage of civilians becoming trapped in their own homes and at the mercy of young soldiers who have been ordered to set aside their own sense of human decency in order to bully, harass and in some cases brutalize an unarmed population. How do you pass your time when you are imprisoned in your own home? What do you do when you cannot cross the neighborhood to help your sick mother? And what does it feel like when occupier and occupied, who are supposed to be enemies, are forced to set aside feelings of empathy?