Israela by Batya Casper
Ratiba is an Israeli journalist who relinquishes family and friends to marry an Arab and move to live in his village. For 30 years, she hides her Jewish identity from her husband and children. Her sister Orit, is an actress whose lover is killed in a car bomb, who feels betrayed by Ratiba and exacts revenge on her. Elisheva fails to prevent a suicide when she is young; she dedicates her life to healing the wounded and the dying of the Second Israeli Intifada. As they mature, they are forced to make choices they would never have imagined.
Dr. Casper has written a unique, epic work, spanning many generations and world events. She has somehow managed to compress historical and political issues that could span volumes into one very readable novel. Dr. Casper's approach to her narrative is daring and engaging. She writes from the perspectives of three very different women, as well as from the personification of Israel herself. Somehow, these narratives coalesce into a most readable whole that is thought-provoking and memorable. Her language is poetic, descriptive and evocative of time and place. Dr. Casper offers no easy answers or solutions, but the basis for intelligent, informed dialogue. Her love for Israel and its peoples is apparent. So is her feeling of sadness at the distance and hostility between nations whose histories and destinies are destined to be linked. At its core, this is a book about both family alienation and the transformative power of love--Paula Van Gelder -
"Israela... is a mesmerizing read that gives audiences a glimpse into the complexities of life in Israel. Using an intriguing three-person narrative format that revolves around the central characters, the author allows the reader to step into each character's predicament, thereby fully grasping the emotion and conflict surging within. More importantly, Casper's well-researched and thorough revelations about Israel portray the constant turmoil that its residents, both Arab and Jew, face on a daily basis. Beyond race and ethnicity, Israela is Israel's story--the story of humanity." - Mihir Shah
"This perceptive, poignant novel offers a fresh and essential outlook on Israel. With memorable characters and an abundance of drama, Israela is gripping reading."
- Lou Aronica, New York Times bestselling author
"In my heart, I call to their mothers, 'Take your sons to your houses. Bind them to your chairs; gag them, blindfold them if necessary until they grow calm. Then teach them, for they have forgotten, about peace, about the blessed life, about a future—a present—without pain.' Beneath their prayers, in their morning cups of coffee, beneath their love-making and their child-rearing, and in their sorrow, especially in their sorrow when burying their dead, I hear the simmering of heating souls; I smell the charge of armies, of lives exploding uselessly into smithereens. I sit in mourning over a disaster still to come."
love, betrayal, and hope--a family fragmented by war and by Intifada
Live with Israela for a while,
understand, from the inside, the 3,000 year old rift that has existed between these peoples, and the mammoth effort, the fight for good that is going to have to take place in order for them to live at peace with their differences.
What will happen if these people won’t fight the good fight?
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"He lowers himself into his metal chair, his head in his hands, on his desk. Then, 'I don't understand her,' he says, looking directly at me, a child's whiny tone in his voice, as though begging me for an answer. 'I thought we had the perfect relationship. I thought Ratiba was perfect. Now I find out she's not even Ratiba.'"
Israela: lies, secrets, and alienation; hope and heroism; a historical fiction about Arabs who save Jews from disaster and Jews who heal Arabs; a tale of everyday people torn and desperately searching for the right path.
How would you act if you were one of the characters in this story?--Because almost every character in Israela is keeping a secret from those they love most.
I used to consider myself lucky. I never really knew what my values were – beyond, of course, the need not to kill or hurt anyone; because it is only when our values are stretched beyond that line in the sand that we learn what we are willing to fight for. All the characters in Israela are faced with that line on a daily basis.
Israela is a tale as fated and mythical as the Bible; as modern and concrete as the last mortar attack. Discover yourselves in a story of one multifaceted family, of love and violence, of individuals desperately seeking answers, seeking peace under war.
"Sarima lunged toward me: 'What's the matter with you?' she hissed. The professor focused his full attention on me and glowered... 'I told you that...until each of us really sees the other, there will never be peace in this region. Personal relationships are the same as politics, Ratiba, viewed through a narrower lens.'"
Immerse yourselves, for a while, in the history, mythology,and traditions of Israel, and the vicissitudes of the human heart,
for it is individuals, not political factions, who experience the tragedy, the hope, and the heroism.
Recognize the human face behind the Israel Arab conflict.
Israela: an attempt at an even-handed view of a polarizing conflict.
Read, grow to know the characters, judge for yourselves whether Israela succeeds in this, or not--then, post your opinions on the blog page.