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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

"Ambivalence" by Jonathan Garfinkel

“Ambivalence” by Jonathan Garfinkel


Jonathan is an Ashkenazi Jew who lives in Toronto, Canada . Sporadically he attends the local temple along with his long time girlfriend Judith. Despite having been schooled in Bialik school, a Zionist school, Jonathan has never been to Israel and he is close to thirty years old. He is playwright and a struggling one at that. He is looking to write a play about Israel. He hears about it when he sees a movie called “Divine Intervention” which is directed by a Palestinian director. While at this screening he meets a Palestinian woman named Rana who hails from the village called Tamra. Tamra is located in Northern Israel. While going to school in Jerusalem Rana stayed at a house that was owned by an Arab and a Jew and they lived on the same land together. To Jonathan this is a perfect opportunity. He jets off to Israel.

Israel is nothing like what he thought it would be, hard working pioneers and holymen. His first encounter is with a an Israeli madman with long blond hair and blue eyes. He is drinking Jack Daniel on the Cab ride to Jerusalem. Jonathan hangs with him the night and the next day he bikes into Bethlehem. He is stopped by soldiers an Palestinians . He has to buy a Palestinian flag to adorn his bike as it has an Israeli one. The flag costs him 60 dollars. In Jerusalem he meets Orthodox Jewish relative who have views that Jonathan cannot quite stomach. He often questions why Joshua was commanded to wipe out all of the Canaanite, just so Israelites could take the land. He is given answers that does not satisfy his curiosity. After all he is a bit of a rebel. He meets a Palestinian soldier named Samer. He is quite ready to live in peace with the Israelis save that he feels like he lives in a prison with ll the check points. He also explains to Jonathan why the second intifada is more violent than the first intifada. Israel arrested al the intellectuals and just left the rowdy ones. Later when he meets Samer’s father who is 105 years old he learns that prior to the arrival of the British Jews and Arabs got on real well. The British pitted both sides against each other.

Finding the house and talking to the people is a challenge. Both Shimom .the Israeli, and Abu Delia,the Palestinian are n ot so keen on talking. Abu Delia talks first. He fled during the six day war and came back to find Shimon living there. He had to sneak back to his own property. He fought the matter in court and retrieved ownership of his land. Shimon could still live there as long as he paid the lease to Abu Delia. On the other half Abu Delia built another house.

Jonathan goes back home only too return to Israel several months later this time with Rana who is divorcing her husband. Together they visit many Israelis interest in peace, join demonstration and hook up with two organization promoting peace. Two such organizations are Zochrot and Neveh Shalom. Zochrot is dedicated to preserving the memory of the villages that were destroyed and Palestinians forced to flee. While Nevveh Shalom is a join n village of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis.

Over all great book that has the author probe into Israel’s history from a variety of different angles. He is not happy with what he finds and he finds that the Palestinian cause is just. Jonathan empathizes with the Palestinians at the end of the book.

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One blond hair blue eyed Calfornian who totally digs the Middle East.
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