Everywhere a Guest, Nowhere at Home
A New Vision of Israel and Palestine
By Kim Chernin
(North Atlantic Books, Paperback, 9781556438202, 160pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
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The title of this book is a phrase often used to describe the fate of the Jewish people in the world and invokes one of the central arguments for the creation of the state of Israel. In this thoughtful collection of essays, Kim Chernin suggests that the Zionist struggle has left the Palestinian people in a similar predicament; now they, too, are merely guests in their former homeland. Confronting her own uncritical support of Israel, Chernin tries to reconcile her desire for a Jewish homeland with the reality of the violence carried out in order to secure it.
Following an in-depth examination of the perspectives of both Jews and Palestinians, Chernin writes eloquently of the process by which she gradually learned to hear once-ignored Palestinian voices. By combining her knowledge of Jewish history with her insights as a psychotherapist, Chernin discovers the psychological mechanisms that have kept her and other Jews from fully comprehending the suffering of both parties in this seemingly endless conflict. She argues persuasively that by overcoming the mental blocks that prevent so many from seeing the Palestinian point of view, Jews can learn to feel empathy for them without diminishing their love and support for Israel.
Kim Chernin has won acclaim for her numerous works of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, including The Obsession, In My Mother’s House, and The Flame Bearers. She lives in Northern California with her life companion, Renate Stendhal.
“In challenging her own blindness toward the suffering of Palestinians, Kim Chernin manages to awaken each of us to the hidden parts of our soul and psyche that have denied our own responsibility for the continued suffering on this planet. Everywhere a Guest, Nowhere at Home is not only a description of the reality of the Jewish past and the Palestinian present but a powerful description of how life may soon be for all of us unless we are able to awaken to the ways that our world must be healed and transformed right now.”
—Rabbi Michael Lerner, Editor, Tikkun Magazine
"Everywhere a Guest, Nowhere at Home will be seen as the locus classicus of the anguished re-appraisal of the Jewish relationship to Palestine."
—Tony Rudolf, publisher, Menard Press
“Kim Chernin, a psychotherapist, has dug deeply into her soul and psyche to present her personal view of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She strives to present both sides with balance and objectivity, acknowledging the influence of her own history as a Zionist who immigrated to Israel and then left…I think the value and importance of this book is in the intellectual and emotional process Chernin goes through to get beyond the historical rights and wrongs of both sides and focus instead on the brutalization the conflict has inflicted on all of them.”
—New Consciousness Review
“An honest and up-front discussion of the impacts of Zionism, Everywhere A Guest, Nowhere at Home is a fine guide to knowing the roots of the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts.”
—The Midwest Book Review
Praise for Past Work:
For Crossing the Border:
"To read her is to experience an immediate and distinct feeling of liberation."
For In My Mother's House:
"An extraordinary book: courageous, open-hearted, flooded with light, rich with tortured history and bathed in a nostalgia that is free from any sentimental gauze, but pure and clean."
"What a fascinating, rich, beautiful book: an illumination of our times—humanly, politically—interwoven with a profound portrayal of the ever-changing, deepening relationship between mother, daughter, and eventually granddaughter. A book that will be an American resource."
"In My Mother's House adds a triumphant dimension to the body of [mother-daughter] literature. Triumphant not only because it is profoundly moving and splendidly written, but also because Rose and Kim Chernin achieve a rare level of communication and understanding."
—Ann Martin-Leff, New Directions for Women
"This brave and thoughtful memoir is an artistic triumph that brings rich characters to life, while quickening the feelings that lie at the heart of every family's struggle."
—Helen Mayer, Newsday
"We have this book because Kim Chernin longed to know her mother, 'save' an important life, and communicate her to the next generation (as well as the rest of us) ... There are stories in this book that I will never forget."
—Grace Paley, author of The Little Disturbances of Man and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute
"Read In My Mother's House to know what is was like on the left or as a teenage girl in the fifties, but read it more for its dazzling literary structure, its passionate intelligence, and its ferocious clarity."
—Louise Bernikow, author of The World Split Open and Among Women
For The Flame Bearers:
"Full of surprise and suspense ... The richness of traditional knowledge that shines on every page gives the book its depth and humor."
—Anne Roiphe, New York Times Book Review
"Immensely compelling ... lyrical ... Chernin provides a dreamlike setting for events, a quality found in the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isaac Bashevis Singer."
—The San Francisco Chronicle
"Worshippers of the Mother will welcome Chernin's bold first novel...The flashback parts are told by the old woman in a voice as engaging as those in Isaac Bashevis Singer's tales of villages, bathhouses and possession .... In all, Chernin keeps us interested through her energetic recreation of the past."
"Certainly women have been reading books, from Scripture to the novels of Philip Roth, in which they play the supporting role while God talks with the men. The Flame Bearers will be read with delight by those who enjoy good ideological revenge, a turning of the tables."
—New York Times Book Review
For In My Father's Garden:
"[In My Father's Garden] is the basis for a new 'spiritual politics'–for which, in her honest, fluent book, she proves to be a passionate and gifted spokesperson."
For A Different Kind of Listening:
"A compelling recounting of the rewards and shortcomings of psychoanalysis...rich with discovery."
"A moving, provocative, and eminently readable took that raises crucial questions for those concerned with psychoanalysis and self-knowledge."
—Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer, Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association