Ben Bland, Generation HK: Seeking Identity in China’s Shadow, Melbourne: Penguin, 2017

Reviewed by Glen Jennings

35561907Hong Kong is a city where many people get on with business and leave politics to others, but it is also a city where politics is, and always has been, business. Despite elite dominance in Hong Kong’s highly unequal society, power and oppression have not gone unchallenged. Hong Kong has ‘a turbulent history of boycotts, protests and riots’. Many of these actions were directed against the British colonial authorities who ruled the ‘fragrant harbour’ and its predominantly Cantonese-speaking locals from 1841 to 1997. Since then, the focus of protests has shifted to the Mandarin-speaking Chinese government and their alleged Hong Kong ‘puppets’. This has been most obvious during the student-led ‘Umbrella Revolution’ for democratic reform that occupied central Hong Kong for 79 days from September to December 2014. After that came the violent ‘Fishball Revolution’ in defence of street hawker rights from government attempts to close them down during Spring Festival in February 2016. Then the Legislative Council election of September 2016 witnessed young democrats, who had galvanised in the earlier movements, storm the establishment’s electoral fortress. Six of them were subsequently thrown out of the legislature and disqualified from holding the offices to which they had been elected.

Hong Kong people have struggled to manifest the promises, or to expose the inherent contradictions, in Deng Xiaoping’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ formula and the Basic Law. Hong Kong’s Basic Law nominally guarantees freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom to protest, and limited democratic franchise. But it also empowers Beijing to appoint the territory’s leader – the chief executive who wields significant veto powers – and gives China’s National People’s Congress ‘the ultimate power to interpret the Basic Law’.

Hong Kong is a very rich city, and a very poor city. It is a place where one man pays US$620,000 for a single car-parking space on the Peak on Hong Kong island, while over 200,000 other people live in tiny subdivided flats or industrial units, each on average 10 square metres in size. Thousands more live in even smaller ‘cage homes’, which are bunk beds ‘enmeshed in wire like rabbit hutches’. The people of Hong Kong are ‘saddled with the world’s highest property prices, relative to salaries’. They also have an extraordinarily stressful, high-stakes education system, and an uncertain economic future.

Struggle for education in Hong Kong begins in competition to access the right kindergarten. Social Darwinism characterises primary and secondary education, with long hours spent in exam cramming schools. The most famous ‘Super Tutors’, such as Lam Yat-yan interviewed by Ben Bland for this book, are sportscar driving millionaire celebrities with up to 10,000 students paying to learn the tricks of exam preparation. Only around 20 per cent of school leavers get into one of Hong Kong’s eight publicly-funded universities.

Social advancement and economic security are often correlated with educational achievement and business connections. But in addition to the enormous pressure associated with the final exam known as the ‘paper of death’, young people in Hong Kong today face increased competition from Mainland China, both through migration into Hong Kong and the relative rise of Mainland ports and manufacturing centres. Hong Kong is no longer as wealthy as it once was, and many of the opportunities that would, in the 1980s and 1990s, have invigorated Hong Kong now exist across the border. Exacerbating these problems, and making it hard for many people to secure employment, to marry, or set up an independent home, is the fact that young Hong Kongers have experienced stagnating wages for many years.

Hong Kong is an imagined community of 7 million people, no longer a British colony, not independent, and not fully Chinese. Hong Kong has something of an identity crisis. And many people in Hong Kong are not sure of their status and prospects. Are they superior or inferior to China? Do they have agency, and within what bounds? Ben Bland’s interviews with a range of young Hong Kong people from ‘Generation HK’ – those who have come of age in the twenty years since Hong Kong was ‘handed back’ by Britain to Chinese control in 1997 – captures their voices in the process of re-imagining their past, present and future. Hong Kong’s future is figuratively marked by a clock that counts down to the expiration of ‘One Country, Two Systems’ in the year 2047.

Some of Bland’s young interviewees, like the student leaders Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Agnes Chow, organise peaceful protests and resist Beijing’s interference in Hong Kong education, media and politics. They also stand up for democracy, founding independent political parties like Demosisto. When old enough to register as candidates, these activists run for election. In September 2016, the Chinese-born Nathan Law won 50,818 votes, making history as the youngest-ever person elected to the Legislative Council, Hong Kong’s partially democratic unicameral legislature.

Forty of the seventy LegCo seats are elected by universal suffrage for geographical constituencies. The remaining seats are indirectly elected through functional constituencies, such as business and trade groups that overwhelmingly support Beijing (and which in some cases have not had internal elections for many years). Generation HK includes interviews with, or contextualised discussion of, young radicals who challenge the non-democratic features of LegCo, the Executive Council, and the Basic Law. In some cases, these ‘would-be revolutionaries’ call explicitly for Hong Kong independence, a stance approved by 17% of Hong Kong residents according to a Chinese University of Hong Kong poll of mid 2016, although in pragmatic Hong Kong ‘only 4 per cent regarded it as a possible outcome for the city’.

Support for independence is highest among young people (39% of 15 to 24-year-olds and 24% of 25 to 39-year-olds). This reinforces the point that Beijing’s actions do not necessarily win hearts and minds, and that future accommodations will not necessarily be painless or easy to achieve.

Beijing’s attempt in 2012 to impose ‘national education’ on Hong Kong youth through school reform encouraged many young people to become critical and politically engaged. When Beijing later criticised peaceful young democracy protesters in 2014 who were teargassed by the police and used umbrellas in their defence, this highlighted injustice and added fuel to the flames. Beijing’s intolerance for ridicule and extraordinary attempts to crack down on dissenting voices by kidnapping five Hong Kong booksellers in 2015 – at the same time infringing the territory’s autonomy – caused local and international outrage. Overt or covert pressure to censor or limit the distribution of Hong Kong art such as the dystopian film Ten Years and the giant digital clock Countdown Machine also raised alarm bells about freedom of expression. Meanwhile, the blatant promotion of lists of Beijing-approved LegCo candidates through Hong Kong media and direct workplace instructions on how to vote awakened more Hong Kong people to resist the creeping erosion of their rights and liberties. Indeed, even a few rich young Hong Kongers firmly entrenched in the business and political elite recognise that Beijing’s tactics of denying and condemning are not likely to succeed. This applies to the unusually frank-speaking billionaire’s scion Dr Lau Ming-wai, political advisor to Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam: ‘For Lau, there are three main forces propelling the rapid growth of the separatist movement: identity, socio-economic inequality and China’s cack-handed approach to young people in Hong Kong’.

Edward Leung of Hong Kong Indigenous (who faced trial in 2018 and received a six-year prison term for alleged rioting during the ‘Fishball Revolution’), is one activist who was denied the right to register his political organisation and faced condemnation for his separatist views. Chan Ho-tin of the Hong Kong National Party is another. Leung and Chan both argue to Bland that ‘Hong Kong people are not Chinese people’. Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching of Youngspiration provide further evidence of escalating rhetoric, conflict, and retaliation.  Yau Wai-ching, the second youngest lawmaker in Hong Kong’s history, is an independence activist, an advocate for same-sex marriage, and someone conscious of Hong Kong’s acute housing shortage and the deleterious effects this has on sexual privacy, once memorably commenting that young people had ‘no room to bang’.

Yau Wai-ching infamously unfurled a banner reading ‘Hong Kong Is Not China’ during her swearing in as an elected member of LegCo on 12 October 2016, and she referred, even more controversially, to the ‘People’s Refucking of China’ during the swearing in oath. She was subsequently disqualified as a legislator, along with Baggio Leung who was also found by the court not to have taken the Beijing-mandated oath ‘faithfully and truthfully’. They have also been threatened with death, called traitors, rats, cancer cells and in Yau’s case a prostitute, and both have been ordered to refund their LegCo salaries and have run up huge legal bills with the suspected aim of bankrupting them and sending a message to others.

While many people in Hong Kong do not agree with the language and tactics of Yau Wai-ching and Baggio Leung, they are seen by many as victims of power laid bare. If their cases were not sufficient proof of the central contradictions in the system, four more young legislators, including Nathan Law, were subsequently disqualified from LegCo in July 2017, after Generation HK went to press.

Since Generation HK was published in late 2017, even more power has been concentrated in the hands of the pro-Beijing forces within LegCo, with amendments to procedure passed on 15 December 2017 requiring 35 signatures of members to set up investigative committees, effectively blocking opposition scrutiny of government action. Government bills require only a simple majority to pass, whereas private members’ bills and motions must achieve majorities in both the geographical and functional constituencies. Hong Kong citizens have responded by taking to the streets. The 1 January 2018 “Protect Hong Kong” march of between 6,200 and 10,000 people was the largest New Year protest activity in Hong Kong for a number of years. The people of Hong Kong also continue to commemorate the suppression of China’s Protest Movement on June 4th 1989, with more than 100,000 gathering in Victoria Park to mark the 29th anniversary in 2018.

Despite their individual differences, Bland finds that the young people of ‘Generation HK’ share many aspirations. They seek to protect the Cantonese language and the traditional characters used for reading and writing in Hong Kong. They wish to defend Hong Kong’s political and cultural autonomy from Beijing’s interference or outright dominance. And they desire a more democratic future for Hong Kong, with the rule of law. Those members of ‘Generation HK’ outside the territory’s political and business elite continue to organise in schools, universities, in art circles, small professional organisations, and on the streets. But they face a very tough time in becoming, and then remaining, elected lawmakers in the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. They also face a very tough time in the courts, and potentially in jail. Four of the young activists profiled in Generation HK have already been sentenced to lengthy jail terms. Ben Bland aims to update their situation in the epilogue of the next edition of this important book.

For more on Hong Kong:

Chinese History Podcast: History of Hong Kong

Cha Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, founded in 2007, a decade after the handover, is the first Hong Kong-based international English-language free-access online literary journal.

Hong Kong Studies (Journal due for release 2018)

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The Art of Optimism

June 5, 2018

Alec Ash, Wish Lanterns: Young Lives in New China, London: Picador, 2017

Reviewed by Glen Jennings

Wish LanternsThere are over 320 million teenagers and twentysomethings in China. Wish Lanterns tells the story of six of them. All six are ethnic Han, university educated, and resident at one time or another in the capital city Beijing. Nonetheless, these individuals come from widely different geographic, political, and socio-economic backgrounds. Their lives also take on divergent meanings and trajectories. Collectively, Wish Lanterns provides six unique experiences and perspectives, but also numerous points of contact, comparison, and illumination that reveal much about contemporary China.

Dahai is the son of a People’s Liberation Army soldier from the central province of Hubei. In the early years of the Chinese internet, Dahai becomes a keyboard warrior. He shares exposures of corrupt officials and criticises a lack of morals and compassion in Chinese society, the kind of indifference that leads eighteen people to observe, but to walk past, an injured two-year-old girl, Wang Yue, who has been run over by two vehicles and left for dead on a busy market street in Foshan (Buddha Mountain). Dahai eventually pulls back from his netizen involvement, accommodating himself to political realism in an online environment strictly circumscribed and controlled by the state. He also comes under the dual pressures of finding secure employment and housing for his family.

Fred is the privileged daughter of Chinese Communist Party officials from the southern island province of Hainan. A graduate of elite Peking University, where she also gains a PhD in political science, Fred travels not only to the USA for graduate work at Cornell University and to Taipei in Taiwan to spend time with her classically-minded scholar boyfriend, but backwards and forwards across China’s political spectrum. At times “right” (liberal or globalist) and “left” (ultra-nationalist and Chinese-exceptionalist), Fred manages to reconcile her belief in one-Party rule for the sake of China’s stability and prosperity with her regard for the rule of law and desire for evolutionary progress towards greater freedom of expression. This even extends to some sympathy for compatriots in Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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Beginning of an end

June 5, 2018

Words and photographs by Mercedeh Makoui

 

Walking away with a photo

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Hoping the waves would drown the clicking noise of her camera, she photographed him. He heard it. They held eye contact for one second. Stumbling over the words, she asked if she could keep the photo. He nodded. She thanked him, walked away, got in her car and drove for hundreds and hundreds of miles without stopping.

 

Out of comfort zone

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Fears washed over her head like waves over her legs. The sea was loudly raging but she knew she had a boat to catch, a mile or two away from shore.

 

Brighter Days

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Soon she’d be listening to the faint push of her bare feet through the fluffs of sand welcoming her. Past the clouds, no one knew how far she would be travelling before she found herself yet again on top a jumble of rocks, trapped. She smiled and began walking.

University Pathfinders

June 5, 2018

Glyn Davis, The Australian Idea of a University, Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2017

Reviewed by Glen Jennings

We choose a path and thereafter it leads us” (Davis: 28)

9780522871746-the-australian-idea-of-a-university20180531-4-1l5kmtaIf you are concerned about the future of higher education in Australia, you should consider reading The Australian Idea of a Universityby Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. If you enjoy repeated use of phrases like “pathway dependency” and are in the mood for some “creative destruction” to face the challenges of technological disruption in education, the need for diversification in the higher education sector, and both domestic and international competition, then you will probably enjoy reading it.

Davis has produced an accessible book that provides a brief history of Australian universities as well as his personal vision for the future of Australian post-secondary education. He outlines the development of our universities from the founding of the University of Sydney in 1850 right up to 2017. He concludes that this system has, over the years, resulted in good outcomes for students, mass enrolment of domestic students – especially since the Dawkins reforms of 1987-1991, and a recent heavy dependence on the fees of international students to meet government-funding shortfalls. However, in the broader historical view, Davis finds that the dominant feature of Australian universities is uniformity.

Australian universities are overwhelmingly

  • public institutions
  • self-governing institutions
  • providers of professional courses (such as law, medicine, engineering, and accounting)
  • meritocratic institutions (not tied to religious conviction or class status)
  • commuter institutions (only around 5% of students reside on campus)
  • comprehensive (multidisciplinary) institutions (for example, all public universities, except one, offer a law degree)
  • teaching and research based (founded on Scottish lecture/tutorial and German research models, but mandated to do both under the Dawkins definition of a “university”).

Glyn Davis argues that this uniformity is now out-dated and sclerotic. He looks forward to the next wave of university development, which he believes is necessary to enable Australian universities to thrive. For him, reform requires four things to allow greater diversity, provide students with more choice, and to insure the Australian university sector against destructive disruption, especially from technological entrepreneurs: “a single policy perspective over the post-school sector, funding for teaching and research that reflects actual costs…the creation of new universities to accommodate growth…and a common vision and policy stability to allow future institutional exploration and change” (pp.121-122). The fourth point, which Davis concedes “is contentious and likely to be unpopular within the sector” (p.121), requires “system design” and planning, similar to the approach taken in Singapore and Hong Kong. He comments that a “revived Australian Tertiary Education Commission is one mechanism that would enable sector-wide review, analysis and action” (p.122).

Glyn Davis admits that as Vice Chancellor of Griffith University he contributed to the standardisation of Australian higher education. He followed the well-trodden path, introducing undergraduate programs in medicine and dentistry. At the University of Melbourne, Davis struck out in a new direction and sought to promote diversity within the sector by promoting large and liberal undergraduate degrees and a shift from undergraduate to postgraduate enrolment in courses such as Engineering, Law and Medicine. For the future of the post-secondary education sector, Davis would like more innovation, specialisation, and diversification, including teaching-only universities and small, niche universities.

Davis knows that reform is not easy, swift, or irreversible. He also expects stiff opposition to the four points for university reinvention and rejuvenation outlined in this book. Opposition may come from governments, members of the public, and from within universities themselves. As Davis comments about a well-known predecessor as vice-chancellor of the University of Melbourne, “Sir John Monash declared he found it easier to organise an army on the Western Front than to run a university” (p.42).

wingbeats

June 5, 2018

by J. M Mitchell

It seemed to happen slowly.

She could still recall what it was like in earlier times when before her eyes things moved and had structure and colour. It couldn’t have been so long ago. That was then and this was now. This morning when the nurse came to give her a shower and get her dressed, she felt a compulsion to feel the young woman’s face for some feature she might recollect. All through the shower, where she sat upon a plastic chair so she wouldn’t fall over and injure her fragile bones, she wanted to reach out and feel the face of another person, to see with her fingers the curve of a smile, the wrinkling of an eyelid, or the raising of an eyebrow. She waited for the moment when it would seem appropriate but Myra could sense the girl was impatient for her duties to end. The girl spoke in a fast, efficient voice with the minimum of condescension for which Myra was grateful. So many of the people who had come into her life to help her stay at home spoke to her as if she were a child.

Of course, in some ways she was still a child. The memories and pictures she still carried around in her head were of her childhood. They flashed though her mind like projections on a slide night one after the other, in no particular order. Faces mostly. Her mother was there and her father and sisters, and the woman who lived across the street and whose husband had kept pigeons. For some reason these past few weeks she had seen the boy from the corner—not clearly—not his eyes or his smile, merely his shape. And also, his strange half lopsided walk, a shuffle really, quite as she had first seen him approach her where she used to sit atop the deep curving brick wall surrounding the verandah.

He had made her a wooden jewellery box with a lid and a brass catch. He polished it with oil so that it shone and the inside was lined with padded satin. It was beautifully made with precision and care. He handed it to her as she sat on the wall with a shy smile, not meeting her eyes, his body bent, crippled.

What had become of him? Where was the box now?

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Steep Stairs Review, vol 12

November 29, 2017

It’s taken a bit of time for volume 12 to make an appearance, but with some end of the year down time for most of us around the corner, there is precious extra space to enjoy this diverse collection of original poetry, reviews, academic articles, stories and reflections.  The editors of Steep Stairs Review are aiming to bring out Volume 13 in the middle of 2018, and to publish an issue every six months going forward. So, enjoy the contributions, and consider submitting something for volume 13. See submission guidelines.

Editors Ros Almond, Glen Jennings, and Jennifer Mitchell.

Critical Articles

Trees of Codes (Sarah Dowling)
History Has Hooves (Tamar Lewit)

Reviews

Bandi, The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea (Glen Jennings)
John Lyons (with Sylvie Le Clezio), Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir (A.R Serge)
Australian Foreign Affairs Journal (Glen Jennings)

Reflective Pieces 

Pulau Sempu (Sasha Cyganowski)
Retreat (Dianne Siriban Armstrong)
Iago’s Silence: Reflections on Teaching Othello (Rod Beecham)

Poetry

‘Shock and Awe’, Last Tomatoes, and Mess (Michael Heald)

 

 

By Sarah Dowling

614w3EVREeLIn October this year, Melbourne hosted the Australian premiere of the internationally acclaimed contemporary ballet Tree of Codes. The ballet is a collaboration between choreographer Wayne McGregor, installation artist Olafur Eliasson and electronic producer/musician Jamie xx, inspired by American novelist Jonathan Safran Foer’s work of the same name. Foer’s Tree of Codes is, itself, an adaptation of an existing artwork: its abstract narrative emerges through drastic redaction of Polish author Bruno Schulz’s collection of vignettes, The Street of Crocodiles. As the creators of the ballet have publicly noted, these successive re-imaginings of Schulz’s work illustrate the inevitable interplay between appropriation and originality in the creative process (Pasori). However, as a result of Foer’s emphasis on memory, trauma and poststructuralist theories of language, and in light of Schulz’s murder by a Nazi officer during World War II, the two Trees of Codes also problematize the very the nature of language and commemoration.

Schulz is a beloved national icon in Poland, where he is considered one of the country’s literary greats for his idiosyncratic prose style (Paloff). The Street of Crocodiles narrates a series of episodes ostensibly taken from his own life, which circulate around childhood experiences, family life and his father’s evolving madness. His stories are not plot-driven but, rather, invite the reader simply to luxuriate in the decadence of his prose, which is crammed with exuberant, lush imagery. Consider, for example, the wild garden full of “bestially liberated, . . . empty, overgrown, cabbage heads of burrs—enormous witches, shedding their voluminous skirts in broad daylight, throwing them down, one by one, until their swollen, rustling, hole riddled rags buried the whole quarrelsome bastard breed under their crazy expanse” (Schulz 51). A German SS officer shot the Jewish Shultz dead in the streets of Drohobycz ghetto in 1942 in an act of retribution, according to popular telling, against the Gestapo officer Felix Landau, for whom Schulz was painting a mural.

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History has Hooves

November 29, 2017

Animal sacrifice_Louvre

Sarcophagus relief of the sacrifice of a pig, a sheep and a bull to Mars (1st century AD). Louvre Museum. Photo M.-L. Nguyen (2005). Public Domain.

By Tamar Lewit

Sitting down to a sizzling beef steak, I reach to stroke the tabby cat curled at my feet. She ignores me, intent on the movements of a pesky possum, seen dimly through a window to the twilit garden. Such are the animals in my 21st-century Melbourne life: meat, pet, pest.

Rewind 2000 years. Rome rules the western world. Seventy-five million people bustle through marble cities built by the powerful government, sail thousands of cargo ships through the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Black Sea, and coax more food from the soils of Africa, Turkey, Spain and France to pay their taxes and feed half a million soldiers. Dressed in woollen clothing, they eat bread, cheese and pork, drive their carts along Roman roads, and burn smelly manure for fuel. Alongside them are their beasts.

History tells the story of humans. Human lives, human wars, human monuments, human art, and human ideas. But the story of humans is the story of animals, because humans have depended on domestic animals for thousands of years, and wild animals for millions. None of the busy life of the Roman Empire – its food supply, transport, cities, or army – could have existed without animals. Animals were necessary – not for meat or as companions, but in more complex ways.

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The Winter Sun

November 29, 2017

Bandi (Deborah Smith trans.), The Accusation: Forbidden Stories from Inside North Korea, London: Serpent’s Tail, 2017

Reviewed by Glen Jennings

BandiWhen my daughter was two years old, she enjoyed going to the public library with me and playing on the ‘poota’. She would help type out the author’s name, or the title of the book, but once we had finished searching, she would want to stay on the computer and type some more. This routine could take some time. But one day Santa Claus came through the library’s front door with his big white beard, his big black boots, his big red belly, and his big white sack over his left shoulder. My daughter looked up from the keyboard, saw Santa, screamed, jumped off the computer stool, clambered up my body like a monkey up a pole, buried her head in my chest and shouted “We go home!”

Now imagine that this takes place in North Korea. And instead of Santa Claus, your two-year-old child is surprised and horrified by a giant portrait of another bearded man: Karl Marx. Your child screams and cries. He cannot be consoled. He is terrified. He is afraid of the Eobi, a “fearsome creature who stuffs disobedient children into his sack and tosses them down a well” (p.36). This Eobi is ever-present. His portrait stares down on the ordered ranks of Pyongyang citizens massed to celebrate in Kim Il-sung Square: “One by one, columns began to form in the square, neatly divided like blocks of tofu” (p.55).

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The Occupation Up Close

November 29, 2017

John Lyons (with Sylvie Le Clezio), Balcony Over Jerusalem: A Middle East Memoir, Sydney: Harper Collins, 2017

Reviewed by A.R. Serge

x293Twice in October 2017, Federal Labor MP Michael Danby took out tax-payer funded advertisements in the Australian Jewish News to attack ABC reporter Sophie McNeill’s coverage of Israel and Palestine. If you find this politician’s behaviour extraordinary and his spending priorities highly questionable, then you have not followed Michael Danby’s career over the past three decades. Nor have you noted the unrelenting campaign waged against journalists who have angered the pro-Israel lobby in Australia. The attempt to discredit Sophie McNeill is the latest assault in a long line of attacks. John Lyons, a fellow Walkley Award-winning journalist, is familiar with the names and tactics of those criticising McNeill; they are the same names, using similar tactics, who have attacked him.

Balcony Over Jerusalem is a work of compassionate reportage stained by blood and bile. The heart of this memoir is Lyons’ six-year experience living in Jerusalem with his photographer wife Sylvie and their young son Jack. He reported on Israel and the Palestinian territories (including Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank), but also visited neighbouring countries. There he reported on corrupt Iranian elections, the fleeting Arab Spring, the overthrow and murder of Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi, Syria’s appalling civil war, and the murderous rise of ISIS.

In Jerusalem, Lyons enjoyed friendships with Israelis and Palestinians, but he witnessed growing hostility and separation as the pathway to peace was blocked by bloodshed, discrimination, bureaucratic bullying, political calculation, and literal walls. The bile of this book includes Lyons’ observations of gross injustice, and his negative experience with sections of the pro-Israel lobby. These individuals, including Michael Danby, took exception to his reporting on matters they deemed harmful to Israel’s reputation, such as settler confiscation of Palestinian homes and agricultural land, religious zealotry and racism, and the Israeli army’s abusive treatment of Palestinian child prisoners.

A good deal of this book involves discussions about the difficulties faced by journalists when reporting on injustice in Israel, including campaigns organised to discredit journalists, suppress their work or obfuscate facts. This does not make Lyons blind to the severe and sometimes violent limitations on press freedom in other countries in the Middle East.

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