MY ENEMY, MY BROTHER by James Forman


Email this review


From Warsaw ghetto to concentration camp, from post-war Poland to Palestine, Dan's story is the Jewish epic; once in Israel, it battens on the destructiveness of enmity, the difficulty of keeping faith with one's prophets, one's friends, one's self. The theme sounded in grandfather's parting exhortation (""Be a good Jew. Never a Nazi"") and echoed by d.p. shepherd Sholem (Israel as a reconciliation, an earthly paradise) is tested in situ and found ineffectual: Dan and Arab Said, having pledged peace, find themselves drawn to their people in the hostilities following partition. Dan becomes the unwitting killer of Said's father, Said becomes an Arab legionnaire, and the only remaining bond is a fragile, foreboding one: Said's father's watch in Dan's pocket. Despite the titular resemblance to Tunis' His Enemy. His Friend (and the foregoing), the Dan-Said split is ancillary to the central tragedy, which is the tragedy of Israel itself and of the Jew who cannot find peace--here Dan ruminating, agonizing, decrying fellow-immigrant Gideon who ""could hardly wait to impress the chaos of his soul on everything about him."" Much of the language is overloaded with portent, and the people are mouthpieces (including hopeful Hannah, the happy median between Gideon and Dan). Mr. Forman has formerly couched his moral suasion in more resourceful plots and more persuasive characterization.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1969
Publisher: Meredith