Behind the Stage of the Israeli-Palestinian Drama

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Back Cover Text

In 1997, Dominique Caillat toured Israel with her play Leb wohl, Schmetterling, about the Terezin concentration camp, which was performed by German youth actors. Fascinated by the country, she returned time and again and gathered information, in particular, for a new play, État de piège, about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the writing of which she describes in La Paix ou la mort. But most of all, this book presents in a penetrating manner the multiple layers of an ever-degrading situation. In 43 concise and sharp chapters, Caillat recounts the memorable meetings she had with Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line. Intellectuals, soldiers, activists or simple citizens, they all offer, through Caillat’s pen, their vision, if they still have one, of a conflict that can only lead to peace or death.  Dealing with such aspects as memory, the separation fence, exile, pacifist movements, settlements or the internal Palestinian strife, Dominique Caillat provides new insights and offers her own view, always showing her sincere respect for two people that she is equally attracted to.


Behind the Stage of the Israeli-Palestinian Drama

(in French)

November 2007

Édition Labor & Fides
Geneva 2007
"Terres promises" Collection
ISBN 978-2-8309-1245-6
256 pages

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“Remarkably well written… extremely sharp pen, devoid of complacency, always close to her conscience. I can only recommend this book.”
Jean-Marie Félix on Espace 2 (« Dare-Dare »)

”The very structure of the book takes us to the heart of the drama, since we follow the author – who has Israeli as well as Palestinian friends – in her meetings with actors on both sides. […] And emotion surges!... Beautiful choice of a literary form, which is enhanced by a compassionate attention to the suffering of the inhabitants of this (these) torn countries. Beautifully written, in a style that goes to the essential without being dry. The rare dialogues are accurate and the narrative form allows the reader to follow into the steps of the author. This book deserves to find a large public. Its title, ascertaining a fact, is a real warning.“
Monique Bermond, retired journalist and literary critic.
(To read Mrs. Bermond’s entire review in French, click here >> ).

“From the philosopher Hannah Ahrendt, Caillat has retained that narration means selecting and putting into form. In a sense, her work goes in the same direction as that of the New Israeli historians: it is an act of demystification and re-anchoring the tools of thought in a world where the other, the stranger with whom we share a space, is well in view instead of being denied in a repulsive/compulsive manner. From Flaubert, she has remembered a particular manner of observation, a tonality, so seldom found today. Or the exercise of vigilance, which is also a lesson in journalistic writing, with its constant endeavour to check her facts and to frame her personal point of view precisely, when describing the otherness and the elsewhere.“
Bertrand Tappolet in Gauchehebdo, « Une Terre, du sang, des larmes », 14.12.2007. 

"Dominique Caillat's La Paix ou la mort is a necessary and enlightening book."
Scènes Magazine

“EXCELLENT! Finally a woman who describes (and she does so remarkably) the contradictions of a conflict, but also of the people involved in it, without condemning them. It seems to me that I have experienced all the scenes that you describe and that I have heard this type of discourse. […] I have found in your book what I would have wished to write myself. I thank you! I intend to recommend it highly to those of my students who can read French!”
Dr. Annick Tonti, professor at the Swiss-Italian University (Lugano) and former head of the Swiss Mission to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

“I devoured this book and found two analogies: 1) with the former editor of the Tribune de Genève, J.-J. Chouet, […] who was able to disentangle any complex phenomena in order to make it accessible to us normal mortals; and 2) with the novelist Jasmina Khadra, who excels, just like [Dominique Caillat], in expressing the seemingly irreversible climate of darkness and hopelessness that rules in that part of the world.
Marie-Thérèse Pierrehumbert, reader (Genève)

Human Rights :

There are innumerable organisations in Israel and the Palestinian territories devoted to human rights and non-violent resistance against occupation. I should like to mention just a few, which have particularly helped me in the course of my research and which I highly recommend:

Machsom Watch is a women organisation whose members monitor the behaviour of Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints.

Breaking the Silence is an organisation that collects and publishes testimonies of Israeli soldiers who have served in the occupied territories.

Combatants for Peace is an organisation in which both Israeli and Palestinian citizens cooperate in non-violent resistance to occupation.

Jenin Cultural Centre was founded in Jenin by Yousef Awad to provide educational and cultural services (workshops, courses, events) mainly to children and women.

Gaza Community Mental Health Programme
is an organisation of doctors and psychologists created by Dr. Eyad El Sarraj in Gaza to provide mental health services (therapy, training, research) to the population of the Gaza strip, targeting in particular children, women and victims of organized violence.