A revealing glimpse of everyday life shaped by pervasive violence, from an American-born wife and mother living in a Tel Aviv suburb.
Motro’s passionate account is most interesting in the details: the daily struggle to cope with the threat of violence, the aversion to public transportation, the ubiquitous security guards positioned outside restaurants and shopping malls, the rush to account for loved ones each time the sirens blare and the smoke rises from a bomb site. Like many Israelis, Motro’s own cardiologist husband barely escaped a terrorist bomb, courtesy of a last-minute appointment change. Her book gives face and voice to many of those who weren’t so lucky. In many cases, those victims of random violence are either Palestinians themselves, or the poor and elderly who must use the public buses and facilities that are common targets. Motro doesn’t hide her aversion to Ariel Sharon’s hawkish policies, particularly his aggressive stance toward populating Jewish settlements in disputed territories. She notes that, contrary to the generally accepted perception, many of Israel’s five million Jews and one million Palestinians live and work peacefully side by side, particularly in cities like Haifa. She introduces “coexistence activists” on both sides, like 21-year-old Karen Assaf, who smuggles Palestinian-made olive oil in from restricted areas to help support Arab businesses, and Sari Nusseibeh, a charismatic Harvard-educated Arab professor who loudly preaches coexistence with Israel. Throughout, Motro makes vivid the toll of the ongoing conflict in terms of human lives lost, the once-bustling resorts now empty of tourists, the numbing daily news reports, the empty classroom seat where a child victim sat only yesterday. The narrative is sometimes rambling and unfocused, hop-scotching from one violent act to the next. And the truce announced in February by Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas makes one hope that the author’s generally pessimistic tone is out-of-date.
Nonetheless, a compelling, up-close look at a conflict too often seen only in TV news bites and blaring headlines.