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Border walls aren't about security — they're about preventing empathy

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"An Improbable Friendship" is the dual biography of Israeli Ruth Dayan, now over 100 years old, who was Moshe Dayan's wife for 37 years, and Palestinian journalist Raymonda Tawil, Yasser Arafat's mother-in-law, now 78. It reveals for the first time the two women’s surprising and secret 40-year friendship and delivers the story of their extraordinary and turbulent lives growing up in a war-torn country. An award-winning biographer and historian, Anthony David brings us the story of unexpected friendship while he discovers the true pasts of two outstanding women. Their story gives voice to Israelis and Palestinians caught in the Middle East conflict and holds a persistent faith in a future of peace.

Since I first met Ruth and Raymonda in 2009, we’ve spoken dozens of times about the injustice of putting masonry between peoples whose worlds are so interwoven that separation, far from being a natural product of mutual antipathy, has to be forcibly imposed from above. The largest impediments to peace they both believe, more than terrorism, are laws and barriers preventing Jews and Palestinians from meeting. Right-wing Israelis and the holy warriors of Hamas share the same fear: empathy.

Raymonda’s pet theory on the Wall goes like this: Separation, be it the old law forbidding Israelis to cavort with Arafat and his ilk or the more draconian laws of more recent provenance making it illegal for Israelis to venture into Palestinian areas, have less to do with security than with preventing human contact, because contact leads to understanding. Moshe Dayan and his generation, though they fought war after war with them, nevertheless knew, respected, and understood Arabs. Today’s........

© Salon