Mahmoud Muna

8 November 2023

A Bookseller and Many Journalists

I was shelving some books when the American journalist walked in. Many international reporters have come to Jerusalem since 7 October, staying in the hotels near our Educational Bookshop on Salahadin Street in East Jerusalem. The book in my hand was Avi Shlaim’s autobiography, Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab Jew. It has been doing well for us; it traces the historian’s life from his childhood in Iraq, through his immigration to the newly founded state of Israel in the early 1950s, to his work as an academic in the UK, where he still lives. The journalist asked me for the best book I had on the Middle East. I generally try not to judge people who ask such questions: it often comes from a tourist, on a one-off, long-planned trip or pilgrimage to the Holy Land. But coming from a journalist, it was unsettling.

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