An American Feminist in Palestine

The Intifada Years

Sherna Berger Gluck
Book Cover

PB: $27.95
EAN: 978-1-56639-191-7
Publication: Jul 94

HC: $78.50
EAN: 978-1-56639-190-0
Publication: Jul 94

248 pages
6 x 9
5 figs., 5 maps

A personal journey forces the author to confront her Jewish identity and Western feminism

Read an excerpt from Part I (pdf).


In December 1987, with the outbreak of the intifada, American TV beamed dramatic pictures of Palestinian children and older women taking to the streets of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem to confront Israeli soldiers. News stories also reported how a small band of Israeli women dressed in black were taking to the streets in West Jerusalem to challenge their government's policy. Moved by these images and emboldened by the example of the Israelis, Sherna Gluck broke a silence she, like so many Jewish Americans, had kept for so long. Her trip to Occupied Palestine one year later began a journey that introduced her not only to the horrors of Israeli occupation, but to the creativity of the Palestinian resistance movement and its transformative potential, especially for women.

Highly sympathetic to the Palestinians, but with vigilantly critical observation, An American Feminist in Palestine recounts the author's experiences over the course of three years as she returned repeatedly to a number of villages and refugee camps. Weaving together anecdotes, interviews, and candid observations, she captures the vitality of the early days of the intifada and the problems that later began to plague the movement after the Gulf War.


"(A) thoughtful Jewish feminist look at the struggles between Israel and Palestine during the intifada years." Feminist Bookstore News

"Her sensitive and vivid account evokes (the intifada's) hope and despair, its failures and achievements, and its unending human significance." Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"...a serious and conscious effort to grapple with the diversity in feminist thought and practice while resisting the imposition of her own brand of 'Western' feminism on Palestinian women." Rabab Abdulhadi, National Board, Union of Palestinian Women's Associations in North America

"Sherna Berger Gluck communicates the voices of Palestinians, especially Palestinian women, quite compellingly. Careful not to impose the constructs of Western feminism on the women she meets, Gluck is also disarmingly frank in revealing her own personal dilemmas, making her testimony all the more poignant and necessary." Souad R. Dajani, Antioch College, and author of Eyes without a Country: Searching for a Palestinian Strategy of Liberation

"The critical questions raised by Gluck—a feminist, a Jew, a U.S. academic and activist—in the course of four visits to the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip loom no less large and significant, even now as Israel and Arafat's PLO seek to implement the terms of their 1993 agreement." Barbara Harlow, University of Texas

"In the years ahead, the need for all Jews and Palestinians to hear each other's voices will remain urgent. I hope Gluck's account will inspire more of us to listen to the Other—and so become larger ourselves." Jonathan Boyarin, author of Storm from Paradise: The Politics of Jewish Memory

"Not many middle-aged Jewish college professors spend their vacations in occupied Palestine, dodging tear-gas canisters hurled by Israeli soldiers, and visiting—and occasionally staying with—Arab families in overcrowded refugee camps or tiny houses with no central heating. For those itching to learn how families and feminists coped in the West Bank, Gluck's experiences are worth reading..." Publishers Weekly

"Power asymmetries breed dominant narratives which violently silence those subordinated within them. Sherna Berger Gluck's book is a welcome attempt at breaking silence on several levels. By proceeding to speak the unspeakable, her analysis points towards a post-modern paradigm of conflict which is just beginning to emerge. ... The criticism and self-criticism through which Gluck gives voice to multiple levels of discourse is a welcome contrast to other similar works.... It is what makes Gluck's book more than a detailed and nuanced testament to the impact of occupation on the daily lives and relationships of Palestinian women and men. An American Feminist in Palestine marks a 'momentous' journey for Palestinians as well as for its author. Contemporary Women's Issues Database

Table of Contents

Introduction: The People

Part I: 1988 to 1990: A Time of Hope

December 25, 1988, to January 8, 1989
1. Arrival
2. The Rooted, the Uprooted, and the Transplanted
3. Nablus: Death and Destruction on the Mountain of Fire
4. The Gaza Strip: Where It All Began
5. Jerusalem: Pages from a Notebook, I
6. From Charity to Emancipation
7. Songs of Children

June 3, 1989, to June 16, 1989
8. Summer 1989
9. Jerusalem: Pages from a Notebook, II
10. The Building blocks
11. Kufr Nameh: Introduction to a Liberated Village
12. Issawiyeh: Winds of Change, I
13. Return to Gaza
14. Jerusalem: Pages from a Notebook, III
15. Inside the Green Line: From Apathy to Activism

December 27, 1989, to January 24, 1990
16. Winter 1990
17. The Politics of Hope
18. Jerusalem: Pages from a Notebook, IV
19. Inside the Green Line: Palestinians without Hope
20. Kufr Nameh: From Symbol to Concrete Reality
21. Jerusalem: Pages from a Notebook, V
22. A Time of Hope

Part II: The Post-Gulf War Era: A Time of Reflection

Summer 1991
23. Jerusalem: Pages from a Notebook, VI
24. The Jordan Valley: Land and Water
25. Kufr Nameh: Are the Flags Still Flying?
26. Issawiyeh: Winds of Change, II
27. "They're Swimming in Gaza"
28. Division and Disarray inside the Green Line
29. Is It Worth It?
30. Women and the Intifada: Two Steps Forward, One Step Backward
31. A Turning Point

Historical Chronology

About the Author(s)

Sherna Berger Gluck directs the Oral History Program and teaches in the Women's Studies Program at California State University, Long Beach. Her previously published books include Women's Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History (with Daphne Patai).