I recently went to a little bookshop whose owner was a big fan of mine. He’d put my books in the window. A short while afterwards, two guys burst into the shop and threatened to smash his display window if he didn’t take the books down. Whenever I experience particularly strong reactions to my books, I go into a state of shock. A lot of people apparently read so much into them that they think I oppose my country or I’m being “pimped by Arabs”. But my task as a writer is to tell the stories of those who aren’t being heard. I’m convinced that everyone ought to know their neighbours’ histories.
The current situation in the Middle East is unbearable. Positions have been set in stone. I don’t believe there’ll be a solution soon, because God is wrapped up in both sides, though the story was already complicated enough. We have, in reality, taken land away from the Palestinians. After the Second Word War we needed a secure place, we had no choice and so now they’re paying the price for that. It is really serious and extremely complicated. It’s precisely because of this complexity that I use humour in my writing. Laughter can bring people closer together. I use humour and cynicism because otherwise my books would be depressing.
I admire the “Combatants for Peace” who are fighting for their freedoms. These include both Israelis and Palestinians, who are creating change because they accept others as people with a history. It’s not about excusing or forgiving everything. But people have to listen. That way you realise that others are also fighting for their freedom, just like us. We’re like mirrors. On each side you see a face. And they’re so similar.
As told to Gundula Haage