A journey inside the General’s Son Miko Peled.
The answers have changed.
“If you knew what I know, if you saw what I saw, you would do the same. The pain of knowing what I know is a pain so sharp that sitting around and doing nothing stopped being an option for me a long time ago.”
I am not sure from where to start. I know, however, this will be long. How lucky I am to encounter yet another great experience between a book and its author. I should be damn lucky.
However, yet, there is more. This is not just another book, and the author is not just another writer. Moreover, of course, yes, it is the Israel-Palestine enigma. It is the cause that only its people can relate to with such “narcissist” dogma, which somehow identifies what it means to be Palestinian and Israeli. It is all about us.
I am not sure this could be a review, a reflection, analysis, or just a feedback. After all, it has been a mixture of all. My feelings since I met Miko in person until this very moment where I closed the book have been stirred into different mixtures of emotions. It brought me many memories. It also brought to my immediate thoughts many comparisons. Moreover, often I would stop and roar this reminds me of me.
By the last chapters of the book, I came to a striking resemblance that should be fair. Mik told me with Jean Jenet. “The prisoner of love”. This whole journey among Palestinian nonviolent non-violent though different than that of Janet with armed resistance from Jordan to Lebanon. It connects, however with no doubt the two journeys. If Janet commemorated his last work with Sabra and Shatilla and wrote an in-depth reflection on Palestinian resistance. Miko Peled marks his first work with the live testimony on Palestinian nonviolent movement.
In both journeys, one this is definitely in common. The sincerity and true love to the Palestinian cause, that with not a single hesitation carries love that is stronger. Love to the people. Love that is so genuine, it becomes so pure, so giving, and somewhere becomes unlimited.
The power of humanity is stronger. This is needless to say. It is this human aspect of us that needs to win. This is a moment that you cannot but think of hope. Hope that puts desperation aside and makes you think: justice will undoubtedly prevail.
When I met Miko, he gave me a great impression. I was of curse sure he did not like me. After all, I was seemingly more Zionist that Zionists. As much as I am exhausted of fruitless talks on liberation and ending the occupation, he seemed to be with no patience with anyone who is holding this stick from the middle. In a series of three days of discussions, one of them was our tour in Banksy’s hotel, off walled. In many ways, it seemed more of reconciliation. It was easier to me to see what kind of “peacenik” was he, and I think he was more comfortable hearing my views that were not directly assaulting and critical. In the last day, Miko invited me together with my daughter to his home. His mother’s house, and the place where he grew up in. Until I started reading Miko’s book, I was gathering bits and pieces of what I knew about him. I was analyzing his words and putting it all up in my decorating analysis that I enjoy. The first time I met Miko as in his book launch at the American colony, some five years ago, and later we have a dinner together with his wife and daughter who was around seven or eight dressed like a Palestinian girl going to a wedding in Hebron. She looked so cute and festive. On that night, I had the great opportunity also to meet his sister Nurit and her husband, Rami.
As I was reading the book, I was feeling this unbelievable connection of our stories. Two separate stories. Distinct. They were happening on the very same path.
I felt like watching or being that young woman in one video clip that is famous in the Arab world by the iconic singer Kathum Saher Laila and me. Laila and I is a poem written by Nizar Kabbani, and honestly, I never understood the connection between the song the video clip. Both were excellent . in the video clip, a man (kathum) is throwing all his notes or writings in the lake or wherever he moves. This girl is aimlessly collecting the papers with all her might and capacity. I felt like this woman in the clip as I was reading the general’s son story. Somewhere that was something missed out in our journey as people, but yet we were in many ways walking in the same path.
Needless to say, a significant happening in this book is the “general.” The father of Miko, general Matti Peled, in which this book is a tribute to the father in so many unstoppable clear ways.
I would imagine while I was reading, and often, the son, stomping on his father’s footsteps and trying to relive that moment and dignify it . in times where he could not afford that, he was becoming Miko Peled, the man who has since then designated his life for a just cause called Palestine. Not Israel, not Israel-Palestine, but Palestine. One democratic state, where one vote for one person is the solution, with Israelis and Palestinians.
This reading was by all means not easy. I could also say in many parts and moments was annoying and confusing. The fact that I met the man and me was in the very home he was describing was also in many moments hard. However, it was at the same time as a force analysis. He did not give me that chance to take a breath and imagine. All was there in a perfect setup, with no place for my roaming imagination to do any maneuvering about what e wanted to say.
Each time I would stop, taking a real deep breath and think. What a courageous man. I could not stop myself from contacting him and saying that while I was still reading. He would say: not really. I would read another chapter and would insist again No you are courageous. He would say: “ I like to think I am courageous too, but the truth is there is no risk for me in speaking and doing what I do, it is different for my Palestinian comrades, you know that when I get arrested it is a joke and when they get arrested it is serious.” It took me towards the very last page of the book to ultimately catch up with what he meant. He remains as courageous as I thought in the first place. Courage is not about this comparison in how we relate to our challenges. Each one of us has his problems that are strictly designed to him . how each one of us relate to this is the courage. It is not about how I can handle someone else’s difficulties or comparing his to mine. It is about the courage I deal with when it comes to my very own personal life decisions.
At a glance, the book reminded me of Amos Oz’s “the tale of love and darkness” and Sari Nusseibeh’s “ once upon a country.” Here I was making a comparison between the general’s son and my experience in the shadows of men. While I was relating to my very personal story, in somehow, with what Amos did in his autobiography . and Miko’s account was closer to Sari’s collective memory of all the details that one person can give.
By all means, the statement of comparison is not justifiable, especially that the comparison will not be up to Miko’s book and mine. If there is something that makes this man’s testimony in this book so compelling, is this genuine real attempt, to be honest. Miko was purifying himself in this account. Nevertheless, he wanted to lose as much as possible when it comes to family. However, yet, he was aware the price would be incurable. It is not about what he wants to tell to the world or others. It is about what he intends to say to himself. Miko is making a reconciliation with himself, with his father, with his very own close circles of existence.
He leaves again, no gaps for the imagination to sneak in the mind of the reader. In the epilog, he says whatever might seem missing. Somehow, after five years, wit ha recent new edition. This man’s life has gone beyond what started as an 180 degree of change. He is still speeding towards a 360 degree of paradigm.
In Miko’s account on his journey as an Israeli in what became a paradigm shift that made him willingly walk in the path of the “other.” One may stop in many places where he will agree or not agree. He tries to take us into his own summed up reality and conclusions. He idealizes the Palestinian resistance, and by all means, he puts big expectations and thinks highly of those who lead.
He did not succeed, however, in making me think of his father any better . I was reading this part, where it is overwhelming throughout the book (his father) with much pragmatism. There is so much of a personal account in this where I will not be able to touch . after all, his father was part of the making of this engine of killing that effectively applies ethnic cleansing, massacres, and apartheid since the making of the state of Israel. I would not, of course, hold him responsible. After all, each one of us is a consequent of his very own actions, and for me, Miko Peled is a heroic act of humanity.
In the same level, I cannot idealize the resistance fraction in the nonviolence pathway of the Palestinians he knows. I believe by many means their good will and their extensive work in trying to end the occupation. However, at the same time, I am not a firm believer in groups that gather in the case of combatants of peace or the bereaved families circles, where real change does not happen. Only talks and some emotional ventilation that keep sanity in hand. Miko’s encounter with his brother in law Rami, the bereaved father of Smadar is just a living example. To make a real change means to defy Zionism, and this is close an impossible mission to Israelis. It can only happen in unique cases that Miko happened to be one of them.
The General’s Son is a book that Israeli’s should read as much as Palestinian’s. Needless to say, it is a book that is so enlightening in the inner depths of one man . it is a book about spiritual purification, enlightenment, and honesty.
A path human beings are meant to take .. but mostly never do.
Like Einstein, he believes, that the answers have changed. It is no longer one state, two states or three states.