I Will Not

Naila Farouky, Ora Eitan, illus.
  • Review
By – December 9, 2015

An anti-war book for chil­dren or teens is auto­mat­i­cal­ly chal­leng­ing. It is and should be a del­i­cate and care­ful maneu­ver between com­ment­ing on a harsh real­i­ty and advo­cat­ing peace. This frag­ile ter­ri­to­ry should be treat­ed with extreme cau­tion, sen­si­tiv­i­ty, and sub­tle­ty. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this well-inten­tioned book miss­es an oppor­tu­ni­ty to do so while recount­ing a dif­fi­cult peri­od in Israeli-Pales­tin­ian co-exis­tence, Oper­a­tion Pro­tec­tive Edge. It is a call for peace, for stop­ping hatred, prej­u­dice, and vio­lence. It tries to high­light the injured par­ties on both sides of the con­flict with poet­ic words and illus­tra­tions, yet, in spite of its length, the book seems pre­dictable and super­fi­cial. Even when writ­ing for young peo­ple, there is a dif­fer­ence between sim­ple and simplistic.

Ora Eitan’s illus­tra­tions are always won­der­ful but they are not com­plete­ly appro­pri­ate here; they seem more tar­get­ed to the adult eye. They are per­haps too obscure and sym­bol­ic for a young per­son to under­stand. Inclu­siv­i­ty is meant to be the heart of this book. A Pales­tin­ian author and an Israeli illus­tra­tor work­ing togeth­er speaks vol­umes and makes a won­der­ful point. The final prod­uct, how­ev­er, still feels skewed to the Pales­tin­ian side of the sto­ry. This feel­ing is rein­forced by read­ing the sec­tion enti­tled The sto­ry behind the book” which seems to strive for equal­i­ty but still leaves the read­ers feel­ing that the Pales­tin­ian cause deserves far more sym­pa­thy. A map that would not be accept­ed by all polit­i­cal per­sua­sions is includ­ed. Per­haps a series of maps explain­ing why each would be accept­ed by the dif­fer­ent groups would have been more educational.

This book is a beau­ti­ful lit­er­ary work in many ways, but if it were bet­ter bal­anced, it could per­haps help achieve the goal of mov­ing toward a great­ly desired peace.

Writ­ten for ages 12 and up.

Noa Paz Wahrman is a Jew­ish stud­ies librar­i­an and bib­li­og­ra­ph­er at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty in Bloom­ing­ton IN.

Discussion Questions