The Attack

We are only the children of a ravaged, despised people, fighting with whatever means we can to recover our homeland and out dignity. Nothing more, nothing less.

In Yasmina Khadra's novel, The Attack, there is a suicide bombing at a child’s birthday party in Tel Aviv. Nineteen people are killed, including many of the children. Sihem, the wife of a highly respected Arab surgeon (Amin Jaafari) is identified as the bomber.

Amin cannot believe his much-loved wife was the culprit. He spends days and sleepless nights trying to find out why and how she did it. His life turns into a nightmare of drink and struggle.

Eventually he comes to accept it but that calls into question every assumption he had about his wife and the work he is doing as an Israeli citizen.

And once you’re flat on your back, you realize that your life, your whole life—with its ups and downs, its pains and pleasures, its promises and failures—hangs and has always hung by a thread as flimsy and imperceptible as the threads in a spider’s web.

We are frequently reminded of what Israel has done to his homeland, their brutality, inhumane violence, total destructiveness.

We’re in a world where people tear one another to pieces every day that God sends. We spend our evenings gathering our dead and our mornings burying them. Our homeland is violated right and left, our children can’t remember that the word school means…Our cities are being buried by machines on caterpillar tracks.

Possessing nothing more to hope for Amin returns to the hospital with his convictions as his only allies.

We could spend months and years striving for mutual understanding, and neither of us would ever be willing to listen to the other.…the only battle I believe in, the only one that really deserves bleeding for, is the battle the surgeon fights which consists in re-creating life in the place where death has chosen to conduct its maneuvers.


Linda said...

Have you seen the movie of the same name based on this novel? It is an Israeli film, therefore in Hebrew, but with English subtitles.

I saw the movie a year or so ago and thought it was very good and especially admired how the film was sympathetic to the wife's motivations although not condoning her actions. I did not know it was based on a book, but as soon as I read your review this morning, I realized it had to be the inspiration for the film. In addition to the makers of this movie, and from what I read, I think there are many other Israelis who share your views, but unfortunately, the hard right is in the ascendant.

I worry about a similar possibility the U.S. We live in a frightening world.

Another addition to my reading list (which I think I need to subdivide further to break out a new category - RRL).

Richard Katzev said...

I knew about the film, but wanted to read the book first. Maybe I'll watch the film; maybe not. The book tells it all. Yes, the world is a crazy place, countless unsolved problems, probably never to be solved. On the threshold of yet more wars, pulling back wisely, only to get closer again. Despots are back in style. What is one person to do, what can one person do--an ancient dilemma?

Stefanie said...

Sounds like an intense book as well as sad.

Richard Katzev said...

You're right. The entire book is filled with disappointments, cruelties, ceaseless grief, unexplained events, and very little hope at the end. But that is the way it is now for an Arab citizen in Israel.