Novelist Ruth Eglash, once a Milwaukee writer, examines teens in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Novelist Ruth Eglash, once a Milwaukee writer, examines teens in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Ruth Eglash couldn’t get the characters out of her head. 

A journalist, Eglash had spent eight years covering the conflict in the Middle East as a reporter for The Washington Post. Through that role, she gained wider access to people and geographies than Eglash might have if she reported for a Jewish outlet. The job allowed her to see how people from different backgrounds understood the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

Her reporting experience hatched the idea for a series of characters who Eglash saw as vehicles to open readers’ minds to new perspectives. Eglash channeled what she learned into her debut novel, “Parallel Lines,” which was published June 15 through Texas-based Black Rose Writing. 

The book tells the stories of three teenage girls in Jerusalem – a secular Jew, an ultra-Orthodox Jew and a Palestinian Muslim. Eglash uses their experiences to shed light on the impact of the war. 

“At the end of the day, I realized that the conflict impacts everyone’s lives from all angles,” she said. “At a certain point, people here have stopped listening to the other side.” 

Now a senior correspondent for Jewish Insider, Eglash was born in London to a mother who is British and a father who is Israeli. She made aliyah in 1994 and relocated to Jerusalem, where she met her husband, Milwaukee native Michael Eglash. 

Eglash has primarily lived and worked in Israel, save for a period when she and her husband lived in Milwaukee and she worked as a journalist for local publications, including the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. 

“Parallel Lines” was based on stories Eglash heard as a Washington Post correspondent from 2013 to 2020. Eglash said she covered several rounds of fighting in Gaza between Israel and Hamas. Her job allowed her to build relationships with people whose experiences and perspectives differ. 

“The majority of people here just want to live their lives,” Eglash said. “We always hear the extreme voices, and maybe I am complicit in that as a journalist, because we always look for the most loudest, interesting people to interview. But at the end of the day, most people here are just ordinary people who want to live – on all sides.” 

Eglash said she had been encouraged to use her reporting prowess to pen a non-fiction book. She chose instead to write a novel so she could maintain power over her characters. That way, Eglash said, she could determine their fate. 

“Maybe it was just a reaction to not having control over this conflict that is ongoing and never-ending and just feels so intractable,” she said. 

In a polarized environment, Eglash said she hopes “Parallel Lines” readers from all backgrounds will consider “the other side.” Likening the environment in Israel to the political climate in the United States, Eglash said “people refuse to listen” to those whose views differ from their own. 
“It’s definitely been like that here for a very long time,” Eglash said. “In a fictional telling, if someone reads this book, they will see the other side. Maybe they won’t agree with it … but I want people to be open-minded enough to see the other side.”

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Ruth Eglash, formerly of Milwaukee, has written for the Washington Post and has now authored a novel about three teens in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.