Algeria | The Attack by Yasmina Khadra

“… give God back his freedom. He’s been hostage to our bigotries too long.”

About the author

The Attack is written by Yasmina Khadra, the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul. Yasmina is from Algeria and was an officer in the Algerian army. He used his wife’s name as a pen name for the sake of staying alive and so he can continue to write his books. It is said that he didn’t come out of hiding until 2001 after he left the army. 

Synopsis from goodreads.com

Dr. Amin Jaafari, an Arab-Israeli citizen, is a surgeon at a hospital in Tel Aviv. Dedicated to his work, respected and admired by his colleagues and community, he represents integration at its most successful. He has learned to live with the violence and chaos that plague his city, and on the night of a deadly bombing in a local restaurant, he works tirelessly to help the …more

My thoughts

For the last 2 years or so I have been interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I had a friend who pretended to be Muslim, learned Arabic and did volunteer work in Palestine for about 6 months, (she is Jewish)  when she came back she shared a few things about the conflict with me. Ever since then, I’ve been curious about it. I find the whole subject to be extremely complex and difficult to discuss because all sides have valid points and all sides have petty (for lack of a better word)points. Also living in the West and coming from a Christian background, it is sometimes hard for me to speak about it with people around me because most Christians are pro-Israeli. My opinion is that we, as in the people who are not living the realities of people in Palestine and Israel, should stay in our lane and kind of recognize that we don’t have the full story and picking sides makes us a little ignorant. I have definitely be one of the people to pick sides. I think if you’ve been here long enough, you know. Anyways, let’s review this book, this was just by the way.

I wasn’t fond of the writing style at the beginning of the book. There was quite a bit of over-describing of feelings and thoughts by the narrator and it was a little boring. I think the author wanted us to know Dr. Jaafari present state of my mind but I think he could have done so with fewer words. 

I also thought we were going to discover why the wife decided to take on the mission. I don’t know but I was hoping for diary or a revelation from someone she confided in to share the why, but the author doesn’t give us that satisfaction. We are left where we started, confusion as to why an okay woman would do such a thing. 

I went into this book hoping to be educated on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I didn’t get that. What I got, or what I think was the point of this book, is to maybe show us that a suicide bomber isn’t necessarily this obvious extremist we see on t.v, and  that sometimes they are just “normal” people that live in suburbs and have everything going for them. In a way, I was hoping we would discover that Seinne was this messed up radical, but that was not the case. 

I had mixed feelings about Dr. Amin Jaafari. As an Arab- Israeli citizen, he acted ignorant about the plight of Palestinians in Arabia. I found myself being frustrated with him because he seemed so confused as to why his wife would do such a thing even though he grew up knowing the realities of the conflict. His confusion in the beginning made it appear that he was clueless as to how Palestinians were treated in Israel. He reminded me of people who forget their people are suffering because they are no longer suffering. But I also sympathized with him because sometimes people work really hard to forget their troubled past and to be dragged back into it can be disheartening and leave a person just kind of stuck in the middle. 

It hit home with me when Dr. Jaafari spoke about not being Arab enough but also not been Israeli enough. Having a feeling of not belonging is unsettling, literally. 

Overall, I liked the book enough. It wasn’t the best book I’ve read about the conflict but it will do.

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