Dahlia Barr is an Israeli human rights lawyer who specializes in defending Palestinians accused of terrorism. She is summoned to the Prime Minister’s security advisor and asked to take on the special job of determining when extreme interrogation may be used on prisoners in order to keep the country secure. Dahlia accepts the position only because it might be an effective way for her to influence the government against using torture. She is immediately assigned to the case of Professor Edward Al Masri, an Arab Israeli man who re-entered Israel carrying a huge sum of money, presumably to be used to fund terrorism. Dahlia knows this man from her childhood — he is the son of her mother’s best friend — and has a complicated relationship with him. Dahlia’s mother has always been a left-wing activist and agitator and her best friend has been a second mother to Dahlia. Dahlia is a passionate, idealistic career woman and devoted mother who is soon to be divorced and has a lover. Soon the story becomes even more complicated, when Dahlia’s son, a soldier in the Israeli army, is captured by Hezbollah and taken across the border to Lebanon. Dahlia figures out that this event is connected with Al Masri.
It may seem contrived that Dahlia’s case so closely connects to her personal life, but the reader must note what a small country Israel is, where everyone is somehow related. This story is reminiscent of the acclaimed Israeli television series Hatufim, or Homeland in the U.S., which shows the interconnectedness of Israeli society, a trait that exists alongside its citizens’ variety of strongly expressed opposing opinions.
Hesh Kestin served in the Israel Defense Forces and worked as a foreign correspondent, and his tale rings true. There is typical Israeli sarcastic humor in the banter between Dahlia and the other characters. This short book supplies many insights into the complicated politics Israel faces. A surprising twist leaves the reader hoping for more enjoyable writing from this author.
Miriam Bradman Abrahams, mom, grandmom, avid reader, sometime writer, born in Havana, raised in Brooklyn, residing in Long Beach on Long Island. Longtime former One Region One Book chair and JBC liaison for Nassau Hadassah, currently presenting Incident at San Miguel with author AJ Sidransky who wrote the historical fiction based on her Cuban Jewish refugee family’s experiences during the revolution. Fluent in Spanish and Hebrew, certified hatha yoga instructor.