MY ENEMY, MY SELF by Yoram Binur
Kirkus Star


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Shocking and politically explosive expos‚ that finds Israeli journalist Binur touring his homeland disguised as a Palestinian in a Mideastern version of Black Like Me. For six months in 1986, 33-year-old Binur, a reporter for Jerusalem's weekly newspaper Kol Ha'ir, donned the dress and props of a Palestinian laborer (""to complete the image, I left my face unshaven and brought along my worn and trusty red keffiyeh, the traditional Arab headdress"") and explored Israel through Arab eyes. The experience proved harsh beyond his dreams. From his first job--as a dishwasher working under slavish conditions and for starvation wages in a Tel Aviv wedding hall--to his later stint as the only Arab guest at a kibbutz, Binur endured near-constant prejudice at Jewish hands and lived in fear of discovery and reprisal at Arab hands. At another dishwasher's job, at a pub, he experienced ""the most degrading moment"" of his adventure--having a Jewish couple make out passionately under his nose as he scrubbed dishes: ""For them I simply didn't exist. I was invisible, a nonentity!"" Such invisibility would have been a blessing later, though, when Binur--a.k.a. Fah'ti Awad--was arrested and beaten in Jerusalem for no other reason than that he was seemingly an Arab at a Jewish demonstration. During his ""posing,"" Binur had an affair with an unsuspecting Israeli woman; he also lodged in numerous squalid Palestinian hostels, and at the notorious Jebalya refugee camp, where he was challenged by a known terrorist (he escaped by reciting the Koran). Among Arabs he found friendship; among Jews (with the sole exception of his paramour) ridicule or torment. No wonder, then, that at book's end Binur makes a stirring plea for understanding the Palestinian uprising and for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza. Gripping simply as a real-life thriller, but profoundly disturbing as well, as Binur courageously exposes a nation's shame and makes clear as no non-Arab writer has done before the pain and unyielding pride of the Palestinians. A powerful, important book.

Pub Date: March 17th, 1989
Publisher: Doubleday