New York, NY: Harper [an imprint of HarperCollins Books], 2019. First U.S. Edition. Hardcover. viii, , 224,  pages. Map. The book Includes a preface, as well as chapters on Paradise, Inferno, Angels, The Journey, and Legacy. Also includes A Letter, The Words of My Father, Glossary, and Acknowledgments. Signed with sentiment by the author on the Half Title Page. Inscription reads: Best Wishes, Yousef Bashir, 9/11/19. DJ has a tear at the top rear near flap. The author is a Palestinian American from the Gaza Strip, the son of a respected educator. He currently works for the Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation to the United States. In this book, the author writes about his experiences as a young Palestinian growing up in the Gaza Strip. Yousef Bashir's deeply personal narrative is imbued with a clarity that surprises at every turn. The Words of My Father offers hope that this seemingly intractable conflict can find a solution that is just to both sides. When he was 16, Yousef made his way to the United States to attend high school in Utah and finally made it to his dream city of Boston to earn his B.A. in International Affairs from Northeastern University and an M.A. in Co-existence and Conflict from Brandeis University. After moving to Washington, DC, Yousef was selected for the Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship and worked for the Partnership for a Secure America, a think tank that promotes bipartisanship among Congressional staffers. Yousef also worked in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate before he joined the General Delegation of the PLO to the US as the Congressional Affairs Advisor. Currently, Yousef is a Seeds of Peace GATHER fellow. In the Gaza Strip, growing up on land owned by his family for centuries, fourteen-year-old Yousef Bashir was preoccupied with soccer, school pranks, and meeting his father's impossibly high standards. Dignified and empathetic, kind yet strict, Yousef's father was a pillar of strength for his family and community. Though he and Yousef butted heads fiercely, they loved each other unconditionally. Despite an Israeli settlement hovering on its periphery, the Gaza of Yousef's childhood could only be described as a paradise. That all changed when the Second Intifada exploded, and Israeli soldiers occupied the Bashir's family home. Yousef was forced to learn the rules of a new life in captivity and to watch his father treat the occupiers as honored guests -- a testament not only to his father's desire for peace between Palestine and Israel but also to his unshakable belief that it was truly within reach. Yet nothing could prepare Yousef and his father for the Israeli bullet that was about to transform both of their lives in an instant. A tale of father and son, of reckoning and redemption, Yousef's story is a sincere reminder in these troubled times that forgiveness is a gift -- and a choice.
Derived from a Kirkus review: Bashir delivers an urgent, impassioned call for peace between Palestine and Israel. The words of the Palestinian peace activist’s father are, on the surface, incontestable: Strive for peace, he insisted, for “violence only leads to more violence.” Yet, during the second intifada and in the face of the intransigence of Israel’s government in dividing the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and barring movement between the two Palestinian areas, striving for peace became a difficult proposition to hold up—and one that was particularly difficult to defend in a time of growing militance. By Bashir’s account, the plot of land that his educator father had so carefully improved, building the soil, planting trees by the hundreds and crops by the row, became a dust bowl under a de facto Israeli siege. Moreover, an Israeli soldier shot him for reasons that he finds inexplicable today, paralyzing him for a long period and requiring multiple surgeries. Years later, writes the author, even as he mourns the passing of his father and the loss of the land that his father took pains to tell him was his forever, he found himself thinking obsessively of that transformational event and the Israeli soldier behind the gun. “That single shot had changed my whole life,” he writes, “and I wondered if it had changed his.” In the end, the story comes full circle, as Bashir travels the world to convey the message of peace in the Middle East, the bullet in his back, as he puts it, moving him forward and not restraining him. There is some bitterness nonetheless, especially when he recounts that Israeli soldiers commandeered all the cooking vessels in his family home and then left them behind, each full of feces. Even with that insult, in this eloquent and affecting memoir he adopts another remark of his father’s as his own: “What happened to me makes me believe even more in peace.” An inspiration to peace activists in all theaters of war and struggle and a book that deserves a wide audience. Condition: Very good / Good.
Keywords: Palestinian Americans, Gaza Strip, Palestinian Diplomatic Delegation, Jews, Israel, Intifada, Ramadan, Ramallah, Military Occupation, Tel Aviv, Wounding