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Moving story on plight of Palestinians

Published Aug 27, 2007 8:43 PM

“Scar of David” by Susan Abulhawa, 2006, Journey Publications, 326 pages, hardcover available from Leftbooks.com

How do you clear the debris of misconception and prejudice from people’s minds about one of the most misunderstood struggles in history? More importantly, how do you propel people toward a real understanding of the Palestinian people’s right to their homeland?

Writer Susan Abulhawa accomplishes these tasks—and more—with her first novel, “The Scar of David.”

The “Scar of David” stands out as more than an impassioned history of the Palestinian people’s struggle for their homeland. It is an intricate tapestry, a living quilt of five generations of Palestinian families, their lives and deaths, their pain and suffering and most importantly their love for their homeland—Palestine.

More than any book I have ever read, “The Scar of David” leaves the reader with a new depth of understanding about Palestine and its people’s will to live.

This book, one of the finest pieces of realistic fiction that this writer has ever read, moves beyond the conventional biographies and histories about Palestine and Israel. “The Scar of David” brings to life every breath of the Palestinian people and every major attack upon their existence beginning with the period before the establishment of the state of Israel when Jews and Arabs lived side by side in Palestine.

An amazing story unfolds, despite growing hostile actions by the Zionists against the Arab population, about a friendship between Ari, a Jewish boy whose family escaped the German holocaust, and Hasan, son of a Palestinian farmer and one of the main characters in the book.

The story is told by Hasan’s daughter, Amal. The reader experiences firsthand the “catastrophe” of Nabka, the heinous forced removal of the Palestinian people from their homes and the establishment of the state of Israel and brings us to the most recent Israeli siege of the city of Jenin.

The reader is submerged in the most critical struggles of the Palestinians from the early massacre at Deir Yassin to the brutal Israeli attack on the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp in southern Lebanon.

Abulhawa skillfully and hauntingly humanizes every aspect of this resistance from the Intifada to the phenomena of the suicide bombings. The story includes the kidnapping of Amal’s infant brother, Ismael, by an Israeli soldier who raises him as a Jew.

“The Scar of David” is a must read for everyone wishing to learn the truth about the Palestinian struggle. As a teacher, I would highly recommend its inclusion in middle school, high school and college classes. As a North American Jew, I believe this book should be read by Jewish people everywhere who wish to tackle decades of misconceptions and, like David’s son, Jacob, understand and embrace the Palestinians’ right to their homeland.