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Carmen Jarrah's travel involves trying to unravel the conundrums of Arab life in Palestine/ Israel. She has compressed three extensive trips into her Smuggled Stories, exploring aspects of Israeli and Palestinian peace groups and their often agonizing confrontations with the military. A grim reality. Yet the dauntless Palestinian story shines through - a love of the land, an ancestral home imprinted on the Arab consciousness, a relentless connection to the soil and its old olive trees - and a story resting firmly in an ancient sense of belonging that no amount of checkpoint violence and failed peace plans can remove. It was a journey of awareness for Carmen, a critical feature of Muslim rihla writing. For those mystified by the region's conflicts, the book will awaken a new appreciation of a culture that grows more resilient and enduring with each battle. It is not a happy book but one of profound insight: The human spirit will not be denied, hence inspiring.

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