The City of Abraham: History, Myth and Memory

a Journey through Hebron by Edward Platt (Picador) 9780330420273.


Jews, Christians and Muslims all claim to be descendants of Abraham. The city of Hebron, according to the Book of Genesis, houses the holy shrine where Abraham's wife Sarah is buried in the Machpela Cave. The name of the shrine changes according to people's religious beliefs.


Platt, who lives in London, visited Hebron between 1999 and 2009. He interviewed many people in Hebron, mainly Muslims and Jews, where he was searching, through their stories, for some semblance of the truth.


Palestine in King David's time was the 'area of the Philistine settlement on the coast from Gaza to Jaffa. It was a Phoenician settlement, unconnected to Israel, Judea or Galilee'. This extract explains some of the history of that era. Modern Israel came into existence in 1948. After a war with surrounding Arab states a year later, the 'green line' of accepted borders were formed. This book covers ancient and modern history in Israel and Palestine, predominantly in Hebron.


The story is complicated by politics, religion, history and human emotions. The reader needs to find his or her own take on the interviews regarding the conflict. A very difficult situation, although I felt the author empathised more with the Palestinians. Quite a disturbing read, but certainly food for thought.


Dawn Blankfield


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