To explain Jerusalem’s conflicts, she wrote a young adult novel

In her debut novel, “Parallel Lines,” Jerusalem-based journalist Ruth Marks Eglash invites readers behind the headlines of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Published over the summer, the young adult tale follows a trio of teenage girls from three distinct worlds – secular Jewish, Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish, and Palestinian Muslim. Together they navigate the complexities of their shared city of Jerusalem along with the challenges of adolescence. Ms. Eglash, who has reported for The Washington Post and The Jerusalem Post, spoke recently with the Monitor.   

Why write a young adult novel?

It was a little bit by accident. I really wanted to explain the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It’s a bit like a soap opera. I thought, what’s [an easier] way to explain it than through the eyes of young people? At the time, my kids were teenagers. My daughter, Gefen, was going to middle school right in the center of Jerusalem. … On the one hand, I was writing articles for The Washington Post and explaining [the conflict] on a high level, and then I was explaining it to Gefen on a [different] level. I thought this would be beneficial to everyone else to have it explained in these simple terms. 

Why We Wrote This

A well-crafted novel can often portray the humanity of people swept up in conflict zones better than some news reports. Three fictional teenagers in Jerusalem provide an opening for dialogue and change.

The main characters – Tamar, Rivki, and Nour – offer windows into three of Jerusalem’s “tribes.” Which character taught you the most while you were writing?

I think Rivki [the Haredi girl] is fascinating. … If someone is brought up in the confines of a certain community and all they know is those traditions and that culture, how do they see the world from the outside? … These “tribes,” as you call them, are very strict; there is no mixing between them. … So how is there a way for [young people] to interconnect? What makes someone look outside of what they’re being told as a child? What makes someone do something else or think in a different way?

The Israeli-Palestinian situation is like a kaleidoscope of conflicts – grievances, losses, resentments, misunderstandings – that breaks into different patterns almost based on the individual. Does that ring true?

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