After thirteen years living as a European convert to Judaism in the United States, life in Israel/Palestine was a dramatic learning experience. I spent two sabbatical years from the World Bank living in Jerusalem, the first at an Israeli and the second at a Palestinian university. I befriended religious and secular Jews as well as European expatriates, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. The best friends I made, however, were ultra-orthodox Jews and Palestinian refugees. The book is about and for all of them. It presents brief vignettes of what I saw, heard, thought and felt. It reflects what shocked, saddened, worried, or impressed me. It zeros in on issues that, in my view, are particularly important for the future of both peoples. The book also –anonymously– pays homage to some individuals whose deep humanity enlightened and inspired me. Its writings reveal many points of shadow, but also rays of hope. I would like this book to help anyone interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict understand the experiences and perspectives of various groups within the two countries –their gaps and their intersections. My key objective is to share what I learned and to deepen the debate on Israel and Palestine.

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Table of contents

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Chapter 1. Early Days; Chapter 2. The Other
Chapter 3. Intersections; Chapter 4. Travelling in the Holy Land
Chapter 5. West Bank Stories; Chapter 6. Refugees
Chapter 7. Of language; Chapter 8. Among Jews
Chapter 9. This is not Israel—Part I;  Chapter 10. This is not Israel—Part II
Chapter 11. Violence; Chapter 12. Fear
Chapter 13. Shabbat Conversations; Chapter 14. Jerusalem Chapter 15. Life and Death in Gaza; Chapter 16. The Loneliest People in the Holy Land Chapter 17. History and Memory; Chapter 18. Outsiders


About the author: Rosa Alonso I Terme is a Senior Public Sector Specialist in the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Unit of the World Bank’s East Asia Department. She was born in Catalonia (Spain) in 1965 to a secular Catholic family. She converted to Judaism in the United States (Reconstructionist in 1995 and Orthodox in 2005).

She holds degrees in English Philology and Law from the University of Barcelona and a Master’s degree in International Economics and European studies and a PhD in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University (School of Advanced International Studies, SAIS). She has been an Economist at the International Monetary Fund (1996-99), Visiting Assistant Professor at Georgetown University (1999-2001), Director for International Development at the Harold Hartog School of Government of Tel Aviv University (2007-2008), Visiting Professor at Bethlehem University (2008-2009) and Senior Economist and Senior Public Sector Specialist at the World Bank (2001-today).

A year after returning from the Holy Land, she became a Catholic. The manuscript was written during her stay in the Holy Land and reflects her perspective during that time.