Even as child and adolescent, Delphine felt deeply and was angry at the cruelty and injustice she saw in the world. When she glimpsed the homeless huddled in doorways with newspapers and ragged blankets, when she read about struggling immigrants, when she saw television reports of men and women losing their retirement and families their homes, fury rattled inside her skull, as if her brain had turned into a grenade.
When she read of famines in Africa, wars in Asia, bombings in the Middle East, she was sad and perplexed. None of this made sense. Why were human beings so stupid? To watch them too closely is to risk having your heart broken.
Delphine and her little girl explored the world together, traveling from London to Vietnam, from Paris to Istanbul, and beyond. Fascinated by the Middle East, she explored and lived in many parts of that ancient world.
Why do people turn on their neighbors? Why do friends become enemies? Why do whole populations who have lived peacefully together try to destroy each other? Why does life turn into a terrible game of Them and Us?
Delphine was forced to confront this when she visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories. She spoke with individuals from both groups, explored the countryside and towns, asked questions, and saw how people were living and struggling to survive. Why, she kept asking, why?
The more she learned, the more she saw that layers lurked beyond layers, shadows beyond shadows.
“When people say this place is a powder keg, they're not joking."
"Grudges go back years, even beyond," someone else told her.
“Once, we had Israeli friends,” a woman explained. “They came to our homes, we went to theirs. Our children played together. Some of them joined protests with us. They slept in our homes, shared our concerns. They were good people. We loved each other."
The woman's dark eyes, deep in her thin sun-browned face, looked hard at Delphine.
"Then they were afraid to come. Times changed. We had to move away, our houses were destroyed or lived in by new people. We never saw our friends again.”
Delphine had heard of this happening in other places: in Bosnia and Serbia, in Croatia and Montenegro, in India and what became Pakistan. People were so ready to hate, to rediscover long-forgotten animosities. Was this human nature? Was it in the human DNA?
The Wall slithered and gnawed across the countryside, descending from rock-studded mountain, slashing through ancient olive groves, where dark upturned roots clawed haplessly at the blank sky. Then it hunched up with broad shoulders through a starkly naked area now scoured of houses, farms, and human beings. Sometimes, it undulated between raw trenches and electrified razor fencing. The concrete slabs, eight meters high and three meters wide, cast shadows many times their size.
She thought of herself as a realist, a woman without illusions, but in fact she was an idealist, a person who wanted to leave the world a better place because she was in it. But how could she do it?
Deeply affected by the massive wall severing Palestinian lands from Israeli territory, Delphine decided to communicate what she learned to the world. Eventually, she managed to raise money to produce a movie about life in the Palestinian territories. Although the working conditions were brutal and deangerous, she was determined to finish the movie, even if it was the last she ever made.
Bruce Douglas Reeves, author of DELPHINE, winner of the Clay Reynolds Novella Competition, published by Texas Review Press, available from University Press Books-Berkeley (800-676-8722), Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and by order from your local bookstore.