THE MUKHTAR'S CHILDREN by Sally Watson

THE MUKHTAR'S CHILDREN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

As close as Salaam and Shalom, as far apart as long robes and bare legs--such is the situation of the Arabs and Jews in post-partition, 1949 Israel; specifically of the ancient village of Bab-il-Howa and the kibbutz Kfar Shalom, and if the signposts to progress are prominent and plentiful--so that the conclusion is never in doubt--the story does have a winning vitality. What is doubtful is the validity of the Arab capitulation--personified by the mukhtar (village head) Moussa--to the superiority of Jewish education, technology, medicine, etc., especially since it's spurred by the flimsiest circumstances and the nicest kibbutzim imaginable. The mukhtar's children are the catalysts, especially twelve-year-old provacateur Jasmin and her more quietly determined twin Khalil; when--after suspicion, spying, covert admiration--they go over to the side of the kibbutz (literally and figuratively), Moussa's days as autocrat of the household and defender of tradition are obviously numbered. An attack by Arab terrorists on the kibbutz and their simultaneous destruction of his home undermine his defenses, and Jasmin, injured, extracts promises on the spot--for schooling, a free choice in marriage, fraternization with the Jews. It's all commendable, lively, and somewhat unlikely.

Pub Date: Aug. 5th, 1968
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston