Dennis Nehamen: Mistaken Enemy
In every situation that creates conflict there are two sides each having their own opinion and striking their own defense. Each side tells their story, relates their point of view and somewhere in between you might find the truth. People fight, countries battle, wars rage and lives are lost because no one wants to give in to the other and unless one party gets what they want in total no one seems to look for finding common ground with the other side. It does not mean that you have to totally agree with the other side nor does it mean absolute agreement. Common ground is taking down those barriers and boundaries and creating a way to share the ground and mark the fine lines and boundaries with actions that policies that both sides can live with. Countries that have to negotiate in resolving differences should look to find some common ground but diplomats, government officials and leaders want their own agendas served and unfortunately do not see past what they want and things fall apart to the point of no return. Many times citizens of these countries try to negotiate within their own groups debating over priorities and strategies with those officials in government that are in charge. But, this is not an easy task and in the case of Israel and Palestine the facts are there, the sides are drawn and the conflict is the result .
Both Israel and Palestine have been at each with no end in sight. Few international disputes have caused the public and both populations emotional strain, anguish and a situation that is so deadlocked you might think you are in a car with nowhere to go. If you reflect back on the causes they stem from ownership of borders, territory and the many arguments and disputes between these two countries. Politics involved, diplomats and others trying to disband what has happened, peace process where the goal has been to stop what could possibly be solved before it’s too late, never really happens. Peace talks work for a while and then one side restores the conflict. Relating if we look at history to the fact that it began when in 1948 when the state of Israel was declared. The focus of the dispute is the land, which Israelis and Palestinians are in conflict over within the original British Mandate of Palestine of the 1922 League of Nations Palestine Mandate. This land or territory encompasses the borders of the State of Israel, the West Bank Gaza and the Kingdom of Jordan.
The basis of this novel Mistaken Enemy will take readers inside the mind of Zach Miller a young Jewish freelance reporter who finds himself going to Israel meets a young Arab man named Amir in the flight and becomes immersed in the cause, the battles and learns what the meaning of two sides of the coin or story is as author relates through him in the first person. His mother warned him that it might not be the right place to go. Handing him the name and phone number of someone in the Israeli government that might help him if he is in trouble, did not alert him to be forewarned or afraid but would turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
From the moment he stepped off the plane he should have realized that something was amiss as he was stopped by customs, brought into a separate room and told that he had to declare himself as a journalist without being allowed to deter from what they wanted or said. Resigned to the fact that he had to register the way the officials stated, he leaves his luggage, goes to register and finds himself heading back to the airport to get his luggage, falling down the escalator and wondering why someone might have caused the fall and is following him. Throughout his first week he realizes that something is not right, the same man is following him around and even the cab drivers are suspicious one filming his actions while meeting with someone for lunch. Although alerted to these events Zach contacts Amir and here is where things tense and heat up for both Zach and readers as the author brings us inside the home of a wealthy Arab family where Zach is embraced as one of them but will it cost him more? When he learns about their feelings towards Israel, hears their viewpoints how will he separate theirs from his regarding both countries?
While staying with Amir’s family he meets his sister and things get heated between them until he realizes that they are militants and terrorists hoping to destroy Israel but that is just the tip of the iceberg when he uncovers while going through Amir’s safe papers about a plot that would destroy the cities in the United States and others around the world. A plan so diabolical that when deciding to leave the country he is kidnapped, tortured, placed in many different prisons and branded as an Israel Spy due to the fact that Zev Feld, his mother’s so called friend made sure that he was given this special press clearance and the end result will shock and surprise readers when incarcerated in Israel, he is informed about his mother’s past, who they think he is and why he decided to remain with this family. The link not only shocked Zach but might cost him his life if he does not comply not only with the Palestinians who kidnapped him but the Israeli’s too. Trying to come clean and explain what he learned from the papers within the safe in Amir’s home, no one believes him. But, when his mother insists he is missing, finds someone to aid her in her quest to find him will her visit to the prison make it clear that he is not a spy? How can this free-lance writer get away from his captors. While living with a Palestinian family who had ulterior motives that he never suspected at first but the behavior of Amir and his sister did warrant some red flags but he could not prove anything until he read the papers in this safe, learned his secret, was tortured by Amir’s boyfriend, and finally turned over to the Palestinians and then the Israelis. But, both Amir and Bahlya are terrorists and he has uncovered this plot to kill millions of people in different nations but no one believes him. Who set him up? Why do they think he is the enemy? Why is his life on the line and will he live to finally tell the truth and reveal what one man has set in motion and so many plan to carry out?
A strange phone call starts this dangerous mission on as he meets with a mystic in New Mexico and he believes what he hears as we learn when he thinks going to Israel will save millions of people. But, the links come into place after he is kidnapped, meets someone in another cell just by talking to him, learning that the children of both nations were trying to eliminate hate and that the adults did not want that to happen. Tortured, kidnapped, falling for Bahlya, wondering what their agenda really is and trying not to fall prey to their propaganda when joining in their indoctrination lessons, Zach learns that there is more than one enemy out there and the information he learns about the Arab-Israel conflict stems back to him family, his mother and much more. The scenes are graphic, the dialogue thought provoking and the end result that his could happen and might be ripped right out of the headlines in many countries leads one to believe that Zach’s every move is being watched and his mother’s hopes of getting him realized means that he has to becoming someone he is not.
When his mother contacts a reporter named Danish Nasir things start to fall into play but not everyone will believe what she learned and the history about her family, her marriage to a Palestinian will give both sides pause for thought. Each side not believing Zach and both thinking he was aligned with the other being a spy for both countries yet not showing any signs at all. Leaks, newspaper articles and the threat of another Sept. 11 hanging over their heads would anyone be able to stop it and the money transfers they learn and who is behind it will shock readers as it does Zach.
Josea Roth a former classmate of his works for the Israel government and enter his prison cell to question him hoping that what he told her was valid. With the help of her boss he was released but under certain conditions. The evidence about what was planned was there and the banks and money being used to destroy the U.S. and Israel quite huge. But, will they be able to stop another Sept. 11?.
Telling him about his real father Abbas Ashrawi, how they met knowing that he wrote anti-Israel material yet stating it was not anti-Jewish give him much to think about. Piecing it all together the author relates that Danish Nasir a reporter was working with his mother to gather information to help free Zach and watching all the billionaires, money transfers and an end result would be more equally as catastrophic as the Holocaust killing millions if not stopped. Added in we learn the history of the Hamdallah family that embraced Zach and the fact that they were blood relatives adds to the intrigue and reasons why both the Israeli’s and Palestinians considered him a spy. Both Amir and his sister disappeared will they be found? When all the governments and enforcement agencies ban together you won’t believe what this was all about and the visions and dreams that haunted Zach which just might help stop what someone named Jawiris has put into place. Will they be able to stop the acoustical attack? A dream that would set in motion a plan that you just won’t believe. It started with winning ten lottery tickets and sometimes the beginning just might be where he needs to wind up. Mistaken Enemy: Will Israel ever be recognized as a State? Will the Palestinians ever get back their land? Will there ever be common ground? Just who can Zach Trust? This is one novel that takes you right inside the thinking of both the Israeli’s, Palestinians, presenting two sides of the story and it is up to you the reader to decide which one if either is has a more valid point! Israel/Palestine wouldn’t it be great if they could live together in peace! The author brilliantly gives much pause for thought in this outstanding explosive novel filled with an ending that you just won’t see coming.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine