Rise, a novel of contemporary IsraelPosted: 2011/12/25
Text: Solveig Hansen
Rise, Yosef Gotlieb’s new novel, is set in today’s Israel and is the story of a citizen’s movement of Jews and Arabs striving for change.
When interviewed, Gotlieb is often asked about the similarities between the citizen’s movement described in the book and the similar popular protest movements we witness elsewhere in the world today. His response is that people across the globe are no longer willing to be treated as objects to be manipulated by economic and social elites.
In her review of the book, Ada Aharoni writes:
In this fast moving and enthralling novel, full of suspense and dramatic events, Yosef Gotlieb presents us with a remarkable plot and characters, who rise to solve the most acute problems of contemporary Israel.
Lilah Kedem, an internationally renowned photographer, tries to solve the mystery of terror attacks on both Arabs and Jews, committed by the Gideons, through catching them on film with her camera. Together with her husband, Prof. Naphtali Kedem, head of the opposition at the Knesset, and friends, they found a citizen movement, “Naale” – we will rise, to help repair the wrongs of society and the bigotry that has infected it.
Lilah’s childhood friend Michal, who lives in Accre, is married to a Palestinian – the outstanding Dr. Halaby, and they too join the new movement and are very active in it. Together they try to bridge the gap of layers of misunderstandings, hurt and fury between the two people. Through Dr. Halaby, we are presented with the tremendous difficulties to reach a “sulha” – reconciliation. On both sides, the Israelis and the Palestinians, there are outraged people who blame him for helping the other side.
Mountains of misconceptions, distrust, fury and hatred swell on both sides, when buses full of innocent children and people are blown up by Palestinian terrorists, or when there are horrifying retribution actions by the Gideons. Eli Zedek, a security agent who has been assigned to trace down the Gideons, saves Lilah when she is attacked, and is most impressed by her and her actions to film the perpetrators of destruction.
However, above the intriguing plot, fascinating characters and dramatic movement of this unique book, its greatest value lies in the presentation of a constant ray of hope. The ultimate message we get is that if both the Israelis and the Palestinians succeed to rise to the challenge of reconciliation between them, the aspired vision of peace and well-being in Israel and in the whole region, can be reached.
This is a provoking novel of deep thought, written in a clear and beautiful language. It is a treat for all, which opens a window of fresh air into the intricate entanglements of the Arab-Israeli conflict, based on a humane and personal level, and it should be read by all.