7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A Must Read,
This review is from: Mornings in Jenin (Paperback)
Even if you have no prior knowledge of the Palestine/Israeli conflict, Mornings in Jenin offers you the perfect introduction to this complex situation, giving many insights into how the Palestinian people have suffered since El Nakba (The Catastrophe) in 1947. For Jewish people, 1947 was a time of celebration, the creation of the state of Israel, their new homeland; for Palestinians it was a time of mourning, as they were removed from their homes and became refugees. Mornings in Jenin is the first commercial work of fiction written in English which examines a pro-Palestinian viewpoint and opens our eyes to injustices which we, in the West, have been sheltered from and/or have deliberately ignored.
It's a story which spans six decades of the Palestinian Abulheja family, beginning in 1941 when the inhabitants of Ein Hod, a small village east of Haifa, commence the olive harvest. Soon the rural idyll will be rudely interrupted by the bombing raids of Zionists, intent on creating a blank canvas for their new homeland. The Abulheja family are relocated to Jenin, a refugee camp in the West Bank whilst French Jewish artists move into their abandoned village. During the march, Dalia loses her infant son, Ismael who has been snatched by an Israeli soldier. Tragedy upon tragedy are piled upon this family, as Dalia's daughter Amal is permanently scarred by gunfire from an Israeli sniper and her other son, Yousef, leaves the camp to join the PLO. Most of the story focusses on Amal as she moves from Jenin to an orphanage school in Jerusalem, to a college scholarship in America, to Lebanon - always on the move, longing to return to her homeland.
Yes, this is written from a Palestinian perspective but when the author does introduce Jewish characters, they are both human and humane, caught up in a conflict which they don't understand either. Sometimes we Westerners feel guilty of anti-semitism if we even show a smidgen of sympathy for the plight of Palestinians but we must abandon our black and white thinking and see past the military and political posturing to the human cost of war.
Whilst not a perfect novel stylistically, tenses and points of view jump about distractingly, it is an important read as it highlights the humanity which we all share regardless of our politics or religion. It's very readable but also a very distressing novel as it shows a very ugly side to the human race and how we seem doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Perhaps recent events in the Middle East are a hopeful sign of change for the better?