4 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
As there is more than one side to any story, such is the case with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. Author Rayek R. Rizek is an Arab Orthodox Christian and an Israeli-Palestinian-Arab citizen originally from Nazareth. He addresses the conflict in Israel and Palestine from a deeply personal perspective in his memoir, The Anteater and the Jaguar: Is This Our Destiny? A Story from the Oasis of Peace.
The Oasis of Peace is a community in the Middle East where Jews and Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) choose to live and work together in harmony. As someone who has lived and served there for decades, Rizek candidly explains the challenges his community faces. It’s a complex task to preserve and grow the Oasis of Peace, with members of different cultures and religions living against the backdrop of strife surrounding the area.
Yet, the author eloquently asserts that just as there is an art to war, there is an art to peace, and that art must be learned. He explains what he believes to be the Palestinians’ responsibility and gives ideas about how his people should now approach the longstanding conflict. Not only does Rizek describe his community, but he tells of his own background and also includes many details of the history of Israel and Palestine. Hence, the narrative here is rich with an illustration of the past as well as hope and actionable steps for the future.
Now, the memoir does have a certain potential weakness, depending on how the reader may perceive it. Naturally, maintaining a dispassionate or neutral tone over such a serious subject would be unrealistic when the story is so personal to the storyteller. Moreover, an author’s attempt to be completely dispassionate would likely water down a human story that should evoke human emotion. Still, there were times when I wasn’t sure of the author’s tone.
He repeatedly emphasizes how casting blame or playing “the blame game” in the midst of contention is unproductive. Yet, the tone beneath bits of the writing seems somewhat accusatory. As the book’s overall message and the tone accompanying it seem to clash now and then, it could potentially undermine the strength of the message to a degree. Also, on a minor note, the author has a tendency to be redundant at times, especially toward the ending chapters of the memoir. He has extended moments of reflection in places, and sometimes he asks the same questions or makes the same points he already made earlier in the book.
Nevertheless, the memoir gives a clear, compelling, and inspiring case for peace, empathy, and human equality. Therefore, I give The Anteater and the Jaguar a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. I’d recommend it to nonfiction and memoir readers with an interest in cultural and national reconciliation and the quality of life for fellow human beings.
The Anteater and the Jaguar
View: on Bookshelves
Like NadineTimes10's review? Post a comment saying so!