Lives Between The Lines: Journey in Search of the Lost Levant
- Author: Vatikiotis, Michael
- ISBN: 9781474613200
- Availability: In Stock
$NZ 37.99 Ex Tax: $NZ 37.99
The story begins with a parting of the sands - the construction of the Suez Canal in 1869 that united the Mediterranean with the Arabian Sea. It opened the door of opportunity for people living insecurely on the fringes of a turbulent Europe. The Middle East is understood today through the lens of unending conflict and violence. Lost in the litany of perpetual strife and struggle are the layers of culture and civilisation that accumulated over centuries, and which give the region its cosmopolitan identity. It was once a region known poetically as the Levant - a reference to the East, where the sun rose. Amid the bewildering mix of races, religions and rivalries, was above all an affinity with the three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Today any mixing of this trinity of faiths is regarded as a recipe for hatred and prejudice. Orthodox Jews in Israel seize land that belongs to Sunni Muslim Arabs; Sunni Muslim Egyptians burn down churches that Egyptian Copts have worshipped in for centuries. It all seems hopelessly irreconcilable. Yet it was not always this way. There was a time, in the last century, when Arabs and Jews rubbed shoulders in bazaars and teashops, worked and played together, intermarried and shared family histories. Michael Vatikiotis's parents and grandparents were a product of this forgotten pluralist tradition, which spanned almost a century from the mid-1800s to the end of the Second World War in 1945. Following the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the establishment of the European colonial order, deep divisions between sects intensified and Vatikiotis's family found themselves caught between clashing faiths and contested identities. This is the story of his family - consummate outsiders and people set adrift - who built new lives and prospered in holy lands, only to be caught up in conflict and tossed on the waves of a violent history.