inadvertently left at home the crime novel I'd intended to read on my dinner break yesterday, but the substitute was more than acceptable, and it dovetailed neatly with some recent Detectives Beyond Borders posts.
The author is Christopher Hitchens, the book is his essay collection Arguably
, and the passage I have in mind is from the book's introduction, in which Hitchens recounts his support and admiration for real revolutionaries in the Middle East and contrasts these with, among others, "the baroque corruption of the `Palestinian Authority.'”
"It was clear," Hitchens writes, "that a good number of the audience (including, I regret to say, most of the Americans) regarded me as some kind of stooge. For them, revolutionary authenticity belonged to groups like Hamas or Hezbollah, resolute opponents of the global colossus and tireless fighters against Zionism."
Last week I wrote about my eye-opening chat in Tel Aviv about crime fiction in Israel
. My informant was decidedly a man of the left, forthright and rueful about, among other things, the Israeli army's bulldozing of houses in Hebron. Yet he was equally forthright about calling Hamas terrorists. And he recounted a naval patrol from his own military service, when he marveled at the white sand beaches of Gaza and at the equally white luxury villas belonging to the Palestinian Authority elite that loomed above, built, presumably, with PA money that did not find its way into Swiss bank accounts.
Like the Israeli Arab driver who shuttled me to Hebron and Bethlehem
on the same trip, that informant offered a more nuanced view of Israeli and Palestinian affairs than one is likely to get in America, where Palestinians are good and Israelis bad, or vice versa. And this, in turn, reminded me of Matt Rees' decision to turn to crime writing when he found a story "too good for Time magazine,"
and of the corruption of Palestinian officialdom that forms an important subtext in his novels but not of media and popular discussion of the Middle East, at least not in the United States.
And what about the Algerian novelist Yasmina Khadra, who once told an interviewer
"Algerian readers like me a lot. They read me in French because I am not translated into Arabic. I am translated into Indonesian, Japanese, Malayalam, in the majority of the languages, except in Arabic. But that has nothing to do with the Arab peoples. It is the leaders who seek, as always, to dissociate the people from the elites so they can continue to reign and cultivate clanism and mediocrity."
There's another sentiment you'll likely not read in the American media, unless the reporters make themselves hip by affixing to it a fatuous social-media-related tag
And now, readers, a question: "Crime stories reflect reality better than do the media." Do you agree? Disagree? Discuss.
© Peter Rozovsky 2012
Labels: Christopher Hitchens, Israel, Matt Beynon Rees, Matt Rees, miscellaneous, Palestinian territories, Yasmina Khadra