State Witness is the summary of Igal Sarna's journalistic work since the Lebanon Invasion of 1982 up to the Gaza pullout in 2005: This is a personal journey to the occupied territories and back, on and on for hundreds of times, to a burning, beaten and fighting region, an hour drive from the Tel Aviv cosy espresso bar.
The witness, the writer, with the stubborness of a broken heart, joins together the two worlds, and tells the readers about fascinating meetings with Palestinians and Israelis, some of them better known than others, politicians and suicide bombers, fighters and victims.
Igal Sarna, born in Tel Aviv 1952, is the rare successful mix of journalist and novelist and political activist. He is a senior correspondent and writes feature stories for the newspaper daily Yedioth Ahronoth; one of the founders of the Peace Now movement, and the recipient of both the IBM Tolerance Prize and a Fulbright grant. Igal Sarna's previous work includes fiction and non-fiction and has been praised among others by The Times Literary Supplement "Sarna touches on all the themes of Israel's modern tragedy. Thoughtful and humane…A marvelous book", by The San Francisco Chronicle "Incantory…Sarna understands that horror often hides in the small details…" and Amos Elon "Clever, mischievous and humane, this is literary journalism in the proud tradition of Ryszard Kapuscinski and Joseph Roth."
Sarna has published, in Hebrew, a biography of the poet Yona Wallach; Muzungu, a book about an airplane crash in the Mountains of the Moon, Uganda; two novels, The Memory Hunter and Flood; and a collection of stories: The Man Who Fell Into a Puddle. Since the recent outbreak of the Intifada, he has covered Palestinian affairs for his newspaper.
His work has been published by Grasset & Fasquelle (France), Pantheon Books, Vintage International (USA), Atlantic Books (UK) and La Guintina (Italy).
He lives in Tel Aviv with his wife and two children.
Those who want to know how the Jewish State has been conducted since 1967, should read this most fascinating and important book. Sarna is not only a reliable reporter, sensitive author observing for many years the situation in the occupied territories, but also a humanist that follows knowingly or unknowingly Martin Buber's philosophy. For him there are no "we" or "them" but "me" and "thou", each of his addressees and people described by him has a surname and a last name, a father, mother and child to whom he listens without being judgemental. The reader would not be able to avoid sensing the the pain and suffering of the people have been living for 40 years under oppression.
Shulamit Aloni, September 2007
In his new book, State Witness, Igal Sarna describes with impressive talent and amazing sensitivity the Israeli-Palestinian tango, which has been going on for dozens of years. This is documentary testimonial written as fiction at its best - like a lyrical lament, a scary suspense novel, an intimate personal memoir - which evokes in its literary power Amos Elon's wonderful book The Pity of it All. The colours and sounds of the bloody conflict, its heroes and victims, landscapes and pains, upheavals and disappointments, all these are weaved together by a masterful hand into a fascinating and tragic web, which is read with immense admiration, arrested breath and an aching heart.
Zruya Shalev, October 2007
The best kind of witness, according to the Jewish Halacha, is not aware that he is giving a legal testimony. But Igal Sarna is not unaware of his role as a witness to the Israeli rule over the Palestinian people; he took it upon himself on purpose, and in my eyes he is one of the most remarkable to have done so.
Adam Baruch, Maariv, 15/06/07
The writer finds himself haunted by a complex plot, breath taking tension...a real novel, with three dimensional figures, psychological inputs and clear conflicts... and with an odd hope for a happy end despite everything... the hallucinatory, mad reality we live is treated by Sarna with a rare common sense... a book that definitely supplies some answers to the questions that do not stop troubling us.
Esti Segal, Globes, 06/08/07
Sign of a Society Losing Its Mind
By Amia Lieblich
Haaretz Literary Supplement 27/06/07