Landscapes of astonishing beauty would seem to be an unlikely backdrop to human wickedness, untruth, and ugliness, yet this is my repeated experience in the hills and deserts of Palestine. I want to explore, first, the dissonance that is thus generated in mind and heart and, second, the particular beauty that inheres in an unwitnessed moral act against impossible odds.
David Shulman is Professor Emeritus of Indology and Comparative Religious Studies at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His many publications on Tamil and Sanskrit literature and mythology include The Wisdom of Poets: Studies in Tamil, Telugu, and Sanskrit (2001); Spring, Heat, Rains: A South Indian Diary (2008); More Than Real. A History of the Imagination in South India (2012) and Tamil: A Biography (2016); as co-author and co-editor: Self and Self-Transformation in the History of Religions (2002); Siva in the Forest of Pines: An Essay on Sorcery and Self-Knowledge (2004); God on the Hill. Telugu Songs by Annamayya (2005) and The Demon’s Daughter: A Love Story from South India (2006). Shulman is also a long-time dedicated peace activist, and has published a book-length account, entitled Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine (2007), of his years working, and often clashing, with police and settlers, to deliver food and medical supplies to Palestinian villages. His new book Freedom and Despair: Notes from the South Hebron Hills will be published in October.