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Friday, October 30, 2015

An Improbable Friendship by Anthony David

Ruth Dayan working for Maskit, an organisation that she founded to help poor Jewish and Arab women earn money by making beautiful garments.

Did you know that the former wife of the Israeli general Moshe Dayan and the mother-in-law of Yasser Arrafat, Raymonda Tawill are friends? No?  I didn't either, so this book was a surprise.

Although harrowing, this tale of a strange friendship between these two strong peace activists on opposite sides is hard to put down. Vivid and evocative, it tells the story of how Ruth, a girl brought up in a genteel manner, ended up married to a fierce general whose leadership won the Six-Day War, and Raymonda had to face terrible hardships caused by the loss of her homeland and the conflict, but managed to become friends with Israelis anyway. Even though the two women sometimes argue, their work for women and peace brought them together.

I especially liked the story of Yael, Dayan's rather Bohemian writer daughter, and how her books influenced Raymonda.

It's a great book, although I felt that David seemed to be more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, even though he tried hard to present a balanced view.  However, the important point is that people can manage to be friends with their 'enemies,' in spite of many tribulations.

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