Outlook Issue 19 Spring 2015
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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Good Read
15     Good  Read     Mornings in Jenin by  Susan  Abulhawa     (publ.  Bloomsbury,  2011)  £7.99     If  you  google  Ein  Hod  on  the  ‘Go  Israel’  website,  it  is   described  as  ‘a  charming  picturesque  artists’  village’.  It  was   established,  we  learn,  by  new  immigrants  in  1949  and  today   it  is  home  to  about  500  residents,  all  engaged  in  the  arts  –   everything  from  painting  to  literature.  Ein  Hod,  which  is   located  east  of  Haifa,  Israel’s  third  city,  is  also  the  setting  for   the  beginning  of  Susan  Abulhawa’s  bestselling  novel   Mornings  in  Jenin.  If  you  want  to  know  more  about  the   passion  and  the  context  underpinning  more  than  60  years   of  Arab/Israeli  conflict  then  this  may  well  be  the  book  for   you.     The  action  begins  back  in  1941  when  Ein  Hod  was  a  rural  Arab  settlement,   punctuated  by  the  harvest  and  family  life  –  in  fact,  the  lives  of  a  number  of   families  who  must  leave  their  homes  when  the  State  of  Israel  is  created  in  1949   and  end  up,  we  are  led  to  believe,  deserted,  abused,  interned  and  ultimately   ignored  by  the  major  powers,  who  are  busy  playing  post-­‐war  politics  and   enabling  a  new  Jewish  homeland  to  come  into  being.     Powerful  story   Ein  Hod  in  the  context  of  Susan  Abulhawa’s  novel  is  a  metaphor  for  displacement   and  suffering.  ‘The  old  folks  of  Ein  Hod  would  die  refugees  in  the  camp’,  we   learn;  and  Amal,  the  heroine  of  the  novel,  will  never  know  the  homeland  of  her   family  and  ancestors.  Emotional  manipulation?  Possibly,  but  a  good  read  and  a   powerful  story  of  family  life  nevertheless.  You  can’t  help  but  feel  sorry  for  Amal   and  her  siblings  who  know  no  other  early  life  but  the  camps  and  the  repression   of  life  under  Israeli  rule.     By  the  same  token,  it’s  necessary  to  keep  in  mind  a  clear  distinction  between   Israeli  politics  and  the  fervent  desire  for  an  ordered  homeland  and  the  everyday   lives  and  feelings  of  both  Jews  and  Arabs.  These  are  people  set  against  each   other,  because  of  recent  history  and  because  of  the  scramble  for  crowded   territory.  Make  that  distinction  and  enjoy  Mornings  in  Jenin  as  a  passionate  novel,   which  may  just  make  you  reconsider  some  of  your  preconceptions  about  a  hotly   disputed  slice  of  the  Middle  East.  On  this  basis  alone  it  is  worth  a  punt. NC