In Pursuit of My Ottoman Uncle: Reimagining the Middle East Region as One
In April 2011, Raja Shehadeh visited the United States to promote the U.S. edition of his new book, A Rift in Time: Travels with my Ottoman Uncle (OR Books, 2011). JPS heard several of his presentations, during which he read passages from his book and reflected on its genesis, major themes, and how writing it changed his thinking about the future of the region. In response to our request, he agreed to allow us to compile the typed notes for his various lectures into a single integrated essay, which he later edited and expanded with additional reflections and comments. A London-trained lawyer with numerous cases in Israel’s military courts to his credit, Shehadeh first gained prominence as a human rights advocate and cofounder (in 1979) of al-Haq—the West Bank affiliate of the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists and the first human rights organization in the occupied territories—and for his legal writings. He has written a number of memoirs, one of which—Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape—won the Orwell Prize, Britain’s top award for political writing, in 2008.
RAJA SHEHADEH, a Ramallah-based Palestinian lawyer and cofounder of al-Haq, is the author of a number of books, including Strangers in the House (2002), Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape (2007), and, most recently, A Rift in Time: Travels with my Ottoman Uncle (2011).