Palestine: A Novel
by Jonathan Bloomfield
Chicago: Silverlane Publishing House, 2011. 463 pp. $14.95, paper
Reviewed by Steven Plaut
University of Haifa
Middle East Quarterly
Palestine: A Novel, attempts to be a nonstop action thriller while instructing the reader in the rudiments of Middle East history. It also seems to have been written with the aim of earning the author some fancy royalties on any film version.
To give the novel a feel of authenticity, Bloomfield adds long "historic appendices" to the book, consisting largely of citations from documents or from anecdotal dialogues that have appeared in the press, and presenting a potted history of the Middle East conflict for a generation that has little patience for reading actual history books.
While largely pro-Israel in tone, Bloomfield, who once served in the Israel Defense Forces, tries throughout the book to be superficially neutral, with acts of Palestinian terrorism portrayed as pretty much the moral equivalent of Israelis trying to defend their population from terror attacks.
The action revolves around two main characters: a Palestinian terrorist from Hamas named Anid al-Husseini and an imaginary Israeli general, Yigal Navon, later to become prime minister. As a general, Navon has to deal with an Israeli prime minister reluctant to take out Iran, which is threatening a nuclear holocaust. For added excitement, Bloomfield has Israel and Hamas plant covert agents in one another's espionage and intelligence systems. For an added touch of authenticity, the author ladles Arabic expressions and Hebrew slang into the dialogue.
But ultimately, love conquers all as the Hamas terrorist calls off a massacre because he has fallen in love with an Arab woman. Israelis then work with Palestinian terrorists to find and defuse bombs. Education reform "detoxifies" the conflict by making Israelis and Palestinians nicer. (Now why hasn't anyone thought of this idea before?) A Hamas leader checks the Qur'an to see if claims about its recognizing Jewish rights to the Land of Israel are true. When it turns out they are, he leads a peace initiative. Amity and fraternity break out, and the "flower of peace took root."
Fiction about imaginary Palestinian-Israeli wars leading to peace? Dream on.
Related Topics: Israel & Zionism, Palestinians | Steven Plaut | Winter 2013 MEQ
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