A Town at Sundown exposes the untold story of Jaffa, a riven city in a space of imposed coexistence. Ten inhabitants—Muslims, Jews, and Christians; women and men; rich and poor—weave the story of their lives with neighborliness toward the political other, in an environment saturated with nationalism. The book illustrates powerfully the transition from the politics of identity to the politics of existence and shows that as the pressure of aging increases, the national distress decreases and the clinging to the nationalist discourse fades away, among both Jews and Arabs. Thus is revealed an intimate and suppressed aspect of the erosion of the national order on the margins of Jewish and Palestinian society.
The stories of enmity, friendship, and closeness are analyzed in terms of foreignness and treachery, and through them a emerges a model of dissipating nationalism. This original analysis summarizes five years of research and hundreds of hours of conversation and participatory observation with the interviewees and their families. It presents new insights into the relation between the collective memory and the individual memory and between the past and the future of Jewish-Arab relations.