If you want to know what it’s like to live in neighbouring Arab and Jewish villages in the North of Israel, read this book, I began to understand the challenges of everyday life when there is so little social contact with your neighbour and when both People have their own sad and shocking narratives. Opposing narratives that that just go on and on causing evermore brutality and pain. Against this background, two women emerge. Women caught up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict who are prepared to dig deeply and reveal the truth of their situation.
Hope Valley is the story of two women, one Jewish-Israeli and one Palestinian-Israeli, both brought up with innate hatred and prejudice: ‘She told me that in the kibbutz they hate Arabs. I told her that in my village they hate Jews‘ (page 113). The story is set just before the outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000. A time of deep depression following the positivity of the 1993 Oslo Agreement. Despite this, Tikvah (Hebrew for ‘hope’) and Ruby form a friendship – in the first instance based on curiosity and expediency but eventually on compassion and love.
The development of their relationship exposes the reader to family history, illness and loss. There is also a wider historical context as the story is interspersed with letters written in 1948 by Ruby’s father. The recipient is God – Father Allah. I love the idea that Ruby’s father confides in God in but that ultimately God through human beings reveals His secrets.
The story is beautifully told with strong character development and an easy to read style. Most of all Haviva Ner-David leaves us with a glimmer of hope. Hope that individual like Tikvah and Ruby can begin to make the changes that are necessary if there is ever to be peace. Hope that Jews and Arabs talk, listen and build trust at a grass-roots level. Hope that politicians will see what is going on around them and think of the greater good rather than personal ambition.
This book sits well with TalkMatters. Please read and see for yourself!