Regardless of one’s views on the Israel-Palestine issue, no one can deny the importance of the fierce dynamic affecting past, present, and future history. Elana Bell’s unique poetry invites the reader to move from thoughtful contemplation to an empathy that just might create something new and life-giving in this volatile Middle East region. We are reminded of the costly consequences of Jews acquiring their first home in Israel, “Because we named the land in blood and ink…we bought this land/when ash became sky/and the smell of burning…and now new trees/grow over the graves…because until the end of the world/we will scratch out the name.” Or we can ponder the incongruity of an orange grove, permeated by a delightful fragrance that is tinged with a murder-inducing fear, neither ever disappearing. To Elana Bell as well as to Jews and Palestinian Arabs, the memory of the Holocaust, along with incessant war and threats of war elicit an appreciation for life and a vibrant state of awareness that irrevocably binds lovers and enemies.
Deborah Schoeneman, is a former English teacher/Writing Across the Curriculum Center Coordinator at North Shore Hebrew Academy High School and coeditor of Modern American Literature: A Library of Literary Criticism, Vol. VI, published in 1997.
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