Surrounded, by Rhoda Ann Kanaaneh, takes a close look at the Palestinians who choose to serve in the Israeli army. It takes up the question of why they join and how it reflects the cultural interaction between the Israelis and Arabs in Israel . In the last week, the book was reviewed in both Jordan Times and the Jerusalem Post in Israel. It is a statement of the social and political implications of Arabs in Israel as a whole, even though it focuses on a small percentage of Palestinians who choose to fight for the Israeli army.
Surrounded contains over 70 interviews with soldiers and provides a unique perspective on their experiences in acceptance and integration into the Israeli military. Kanaaneh not only provides insights into how nationalism factors into wars and why they are fought, but provides an interesting viewpoint by which to view the ethnic tension and relations between Palestinians and Israelis. She first gives the reader a sense of what it is to live as an Arab in Israel and the identity issues that Arabs struggle with when living there. With the many different categories that Israeli Arabs identify with (Muslim, Druze, Christian), how do these soldiers view their relationship with a volatile and fractured state?
Kanaaneh grapples with these questions of identity as she assesses the status of the Arab soldiers in their own communities and compares the situation of the Palestinians in Israel not only with other Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza strip but with other colonial situations around the globe: Indians who served in the British army, Buffalo soldiers in America, and, more recently, the US speeding up citizenship processing for green card holders who served in Iraq. Throughout the book, questions of conflicted identity are highlighted, as are the relationships between ethnic discrimination and military conflict -- issues that are not just pertinent to Arabs and Israelis but of truly universal interest.