Page 46 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 37

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38
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
T he Jewish girl, m a rried to a Christian Arab, suffers all the
indignities o f an ostracized marriage. She in troduced h e r hu s­
band as imm igran t from Ind ia, she continues to teach in a Jewish
school, she subjects h e r male child, Amir, to circumcision. Even­
tually, the tru th surfaces. She is fired immediately. She is “the
converted whore, the tra ito r to h e r people.” H e r child suffers
humiliation, even violence. T h e mo ther attem p ts to live with h e r
husband ’s widowed m o the r in an Arab village. But she expe r i­
ences new humiliation. She learns Arabic, she cooks O rien ta l
dishes. Doors are opened , bu t hearts rema in hermetically sealed.
H e r boy is a Jew among Arabs, an Arab among Jews.
T he sense o f ou traged justice permeates
Refuge
as well as
Michael’s first novel
All Men Are Equal But Some Are More.
This is
the novel o f the silent majority in Israel, the O rien ta l Jewry which
has su ffered sometimes less than a fair deal in the Land o f Israel.
As an Iraqi who imm igrated to Israel, Michael knows and depicts
Arabs and Jews — especially Oriental Jews — with ra re intimacy.
This au tho r who has em erged suddenly on the Israeli literary
scene — he was forty-eight when his first novel was published in
1974 — b rough t a new awareness to the old theme o f Arab-Jewish
symbiosis. It is an awareness coupled with an extrem ist political
ideology. I f Sammy Michael succeeds in listening with g rea ter
intensity to his artistic ra th e r than his political conscience, he may
become a central figure in con temporary Hebrew letters.
T he fu tu re of Israel lies in peaceful symbiosis o f Jew and Arab.
It is also predicated on the symbiosis o f the Jew and the Jew: the
Jew o f the West and the Jew o f the East.