Raja Shehadeh writes: In 1991 I went for a hike in the hills north of Ramallah with the journalist Anthony Lewis, who passed away on Monday. He was in his early 60s at the time and was not in the best of shape, but he was game, as always.
We scrambled down unmarked stony paths toward Wadi Matar, a valley that meanders between undulating hills. Tony looked around with wonder at the surrounding slopes, the drapes of grapevines and the dots of olive trees. When we got to the wadi we heard a pack of wild dogs barking. They were coming toward us. I pulled out a “dog stop,” one of those small tubes that, when pressed, emits a sound humans cannot hear but that is designed to scatter dogs. Or so I was told by that shopkeeper in London who had sold it to me. I hadn’t tried the gadget before, and when I heard the dogs coming our way, I pressed down on the tube as hard as I could. It let out an unearthly screech, and Tony fell to the ground. The dogs were never seen.
Two years later he was back in Ramallah, and ever the good sport, he agreed to walk through that valley with me again. The Oslo Accords had been signed in the meantime, and I showed him the illegal road that some Jewish settlers had built through the valley to connect two of their settlements, Dolev and Beit El. His face assumed a pained expression. He wrote about that valley and its transformation in his 2002 introduction to my memoir “Strangers in the House”: “It has been destroyed by Jewish settlements and the bypass roads that connect them to Israel. The story is the same in much of the West Bank. The occupiers’ bulldozers have carved up the hills that gave the West Bank what visitors thought of as its Biblical appearance.” Tony could wield a pen to poignant effect, especially in the service of justice and the rule of law. [Continue reading…]