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What am I doing here?

It's almost 13 years since I arrived in the Middle East. I didn't come out of any political commitment or a desire to reunite with an ancestral homeland, as many do. I came for love ... then I divorced her.

But I stayed here.

People often ask me what I'm doing here. I'm not Israeli, not Palestinian. Surely there are better places for me to live. I never ask myself that question.

Perhaps I can trace my confidence in being in Jerusalem to my great-uncles. More specifically to the backside of one of them.

I had two great-uncles who rode in the British Imperial Camel Corps in 1917 and wrested Jerusalem from the Turks. One of them was alive when I was a boy. He had been shot in the backside in a place called Beituniya near Ramallah. At Christmas he used to get drunk, drop his pants and show off the scar.

Which gave me an early fascination with the Middle East.

Luckily I came here as a journalist, not a soldier. But as I visited the many British War cemeteries in the region, I found an affinity with these dead men, who had been just like me — pasty Brits delivered to a strange shore and deposited among a conflict that frankly was not their's.

I had in mind a tribute to these men when I included one of the British War Cemeteries in Gaza as a key element in the plot of my second Palestinian detective novel "A Grave in Gaza."

I've been thinking about them lately, too, as the dead of Gaza's wars increase.

I'm glad to still be close to them. Glad to be here.

http://www.globalpost.com/notebook/israel-and-the-palestinian-territories/090113/what-am-i-doing-here