MINE ENEMY by Amalia & Aharon Barnes Barnea


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A best-seller in Israel last year, this is a deeply involving account of a friendship that changed the lives of four extraordinary people: an Israeli journalist and his wife, and a captured lieutenant colonel in the PLO and his wife, the former Queen Dina of Jordan. Assigned in June 1982 to interview imprisoned Salah Ta'mari--a 40-year-old aide to Yasir Arafat--for Israel Radio, Aharon Barnea soon became intrigued with the prisoner's charisma and cultivation, courage and honesty. At the end of their lengthy first conversation, Ta'mari casually mentioned that his wife was the former wife of Jordan's King Hussein, and asked Barnea to get a message to her in Egypt. Thus was set in motion a relationship marked by mutual respect, if not total agreement. The friendship eventually encompassed the Barneas' small children and Dina and Hussein's daughter and grandson. During the months and years that followed, Aharon Barnea arranged for Dina's visit to Israel, prevented Ta'Mari's probable suicide, and was instrumental in the Palestinian's eventual release. Written in an understated style that increases the emotional impact, this book, smoothly translated from the Hebrew by Amir, tells in human terms the need for and possibility of understanding in a Middle East wracked by dissension and distrust. If there is one slightly off-putting element here, it lies in Aharon Barnea's somewhat sycophantic treatment of Queen Dina; but then, as he himself admits, ""We [Israelis] adore royalty."" That aside, an important and moving testimonial.

Pub Date: Oct. 24th, 1988
Publisher: Grove