Book - 2010
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A heartbreaking novel dissecting the Palestinian conflict that is based on a true story. The film adaptation starring Freida Pinto, Hiam Abbass, Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave and Omar Metwally debuted at Venice Film Festival in 2010. In 1948, as violence erupts in Jerusalem, a young Arab woman, Hind Husseini, finds fifty-five abandoned children in the streets and faces the biggest challenge of her life. Hind establishes the Dar El-Tifel orphanaga, dedicating her life to providing love, support and education to the children, changing their destiny. As the years pass and the conflict rages on, Hind finds that - despite her best efforts - some of her older students are taking part in the violent struggle for Palestinian independence, including one of her brightest students, Miral. Rula Jebreal traces the lives of generations of Palestinians in order to understand the intractable conflict. Based on fact, Hind Husseini, benefactor of thousands of children, is the figurehead in this examination of race, religion and what a homeland means.
Publisher: New York : Penguin Books, 2010.
ISBN: 9780143116196
Branch Call Number: FICTION
Characteristics: 309 p. ;,20 cm.
Additional Contributors: Cullen, John 1942-


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CMLibrary_sdeason Feb 03, 2016

Miral is a product of a school that teaches deep thought and recognition of compromise, but her youthful passion is blinding. All of the characters create a picture of the real citizens of this conflict who were, and are, torn between pride and loss, and the need to feel peace again. This is a quick read with real meaning.

Nov 20, 2014

I have been a fan of Bill Mahr for many years and I regularly watch his HBO show, Real Time. Mahr has long targeted organized religion as hypocritical, corrupt and evil. To be fair, he seems to take this view of all religion, but recently he stirred up controversy when he pissed off his guest, Ben Affleck, by saying that Islam is the most evil religion. With all the recent violent video released by ISIS, Mahr has no lack of evidence for his claims. In a later episode, he took an aside to address the vitriolic response to his comments and reasserted his point about the violent nature of Islam. At this point, one of his panel guests, a foreign policy analyst, Rula Jebreal pointed out that Mahr is using the violent extremists to characterize all Muslims and therein lies his fault. Mahr dismissed her comments without discussion and moved on to his next subject. I was disappointed because I wanted to learn more about this woman’s point. As a self-described secular Muslim, it seemed that Jebreal might have a better understanding of Islam than Mahr. So I Googled her and discovered her novel, Miral.

Although fiction, the story is so interwoven with Palestine history and politics that it reads like journalistic history from the genocidal displacement of Palestinians in 1948, to the bloody Six Day War in 1967, the execution of the writer, Ghassan Kanafani, and the rise of Yassir Arafat leading to the Oslo Accord, finally realizing a separate Palestinian state. It is clear that for a displaced and oppressed people, there can be no separation between character and politics. The very act of living is a political statement.

Throughout the novel, I am impressed that there are no real barriers between Muslims, Christians and Jews. Love, friendship, fear and hope transcends religious boundaries to show the truth of humanity locked into a violent political struggle over land and resources. This counters what we see in our news media which colors the issue as a religious war between Muslims and Jews. I understand where Bill Mahr’s views stem from, but from Jebreal’s novel, I now understand more how wrong it is to paint any ethnic or religious group with the blood of the extremists who exploit that group. Let us never forget that our own American Puritan ancestors publically executed non-believers in the name of Christ.

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