Item description for The Palestinian Lover by Alison Anderson Selim Nassib...
The impossible love affair between Golda Meir and a Palestinian aristocrat.
Albert Pharaon, heir to an enormous fortune, son of a rich Palestinian family, and bored banker, has a lover in Haifa. And not just any lover: she is Jewish; she is a militant Zionist; her name is Golda Meir, future president of Israel.
Forbidden love and dangerous passions combine in this historical novel about one of the century's major political figures. Slim Nassib masterfully evokes the atmosphere of Palestine in the 1920s. He mixes history, biography, and legend in this gripping tale of an "impossible affair."
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.11" Width: 4.96" Height: 0.71" Weight: 0.4 lbs.
Release Date Feb 1, 2007
Publisher Europa Editions
ISBN 1933372230 ISBN13 9781933372235
Reviews - What do customers think about The Palestinian Lover?
An ill-fated, secret romance . . . Jul 31, 2007
This unusual novel mixes history and romance in unexpected ways. It portrays a youthful, passionate, and attractive Golda Meir, which is something of a reach for readers familiar with her only as a grandmotherly matron in her 70s and 80s who was premier of Israel for many years. Married, with children, and fiercely active politically, she becomes involved with a wealthy Arab man, Albert Pharaon, also with a family, and the two of them embark on an ill-fated, secret romance. Lebanese writer Nassib bases this unlikely story partly on a persistent myth and on conversations with a surviving niece of Pharaon, who was his confidante.
The love story becomes pretext for a retelling of the Zionist and refugee surge that brought waves of Jewish emigrants to Palestine in the first half of the twentieth century. Dipping into this history at intervals, from 1923-1948, the novel provides a collage of images ranging from kibbutz life to the massacre of Jews in Hebron to the Arab evacuation of Haifa. On another level, it represents the collision of passionately held loyalties that brought an end to a peaceful coexistence that had existed for hundreds of years between Jews and Arabs in Palestine. A fascinating tale, elegantly translated from French. Readers of historical/political romance may also enjoy M. E. Hirsh's "Kabul" and Ahdaf Soueif's "A Map of Love."
"No society can survive if it refuses to sacrifice its children." Apr 6, 2007
When Golda Myerson makes this statement, she is contemplating Abraham's near-sacrifice of his son Isaac in response to God's command, but she is also revealing her total commitment to the Zionist goals which dominate her life. A Russian Jew who has arrived in Palestine by way of Milwaukee, Golda Myerson (later Meir) is bound "in an organic way to the earth," and, in 1923, when the novel opens, she and many of her fellow kibbutzniks feel as if their arrival in Palestine is a return to their ancestral "home." Though the land already has a native population who have lived there for centuries, the British, who are occupying Palestine under a League of Nations mandate, favor the creation of a Jewish national homeland there. Soon Jews like Golda are immigrating from all over the world, and Arab peasants are rioting against those who intend to create a new nation on "their" land.
Against this backdrop of Palestinian history from 1923 - 1948, Lebanese author Selim Nassib creates the extraordinary love story of passionate, young Golda Meir and Albert Pharoan, a wealthy Lebanese banker. Pharaon has abandoned the high life of Beirut, along with his wife and children, to live in Haifa, where he is a first-hand observer of the growing Zionist movement, along with the conflicts Zionism creates among the Arab people. From 1929 to 1936, according to legend (corroborated by his family, though not hers), they see each other secretly, reveling in each other's company even as they are poles apart in their visions for Palestine.
Their affair takes place during major policy decisions by the high-powered leaders with whom Golda associates, well described here, but Nassib's point of view is different from that of most western "founding-of-Israel novels." Nassib points up the weakness of the British governors, emphasizing that their vacillation between promoting a Jewish homeland and back-tracking to avoid trouble among the Palestinians is a major factor in the hostilities, and their ill-conceived withdrawal when tensions are at their height contributes to the bloodshed. Massacres of Jews by Arabs are described here, but so, too, are the less publicized massacres of Arab peasants by the militant Jewish members of Irgun. Extremists on both sides come under fire as Golda and Albert try to keep love alive.
Nassib's adept descriptions of places, action, and historical background help bring the novel to life for readers who may not be completely familiar with this period. (The publisher also provides a helpful chronology at the end.) And though it is difficult to imagine the Golda Meir we may remember from her later years as the lusty young woman who appears here, Nassib manages to make this love story plausible within the context of her history and the history of Israel. n Mary Whipple