TMW Book Reviews

Review – Israela


Dr. Batya Casper

Israela by Dr. Batya Casper is a persuasive story that links the personal and the political, shedding light on the human experience against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The novel addresses the intricacies of identity, culture, and history, as seen through its characters—whose lives are closely connected with their country’s history and politics. The story opens with an intriguing scene where Orit, a Jewish woman, is clandestinely taken to visit a mystical Kabbalist in Safed, seeking divine intervention for her son, Dovy, who is serving in the Israeli army. Elisheva, a dedicated nurse, is portrayed as a compassionate figure whose mission is to care for others, irrespective of their background. She embodies empathy in a land torn by strife and violence. Orit is also grappling with the loss of her mother and the estrangement from her sister Ratiba, who has converted to Islam and married Ibrahim, an Israeli Arab. This starts the unfolding drama and the exploration of identity, loyalty, and the search for belonging. How does one’s dual heritage, being born to a Palestinian mother and raised by a Jewish family, influence perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

As the pages turn, readers can see the emotional depths of Ratiba, Orit, and Elisheva, whose lives reflect the broader societal movement of Israel. Dr. Casper creates a tale that is not only about individuality and family dynamics but also about the larger political landscape. Themes such as sacrifice, alienation, and the quest for peace and understanding offer a nuanced viewpoint on a region often defined by its conflicts. Through its character development and vivid storytelling, Israela presents a diversified view of a nation and its people—inviting readers to contemplate on human resilience and the constant hope for reconciliation and harmony. 

Dr. Batya Casper designed deep, multi-dimensional characters whose struggles offer a unique window into the larger socio-political issues. Her approach brings a human face to the often abstract and distant war and loss accounts. For instance, Elisheva’s career and her loss provide a personal insight into the emotional toll of continuous conflict. Similarly, Naama’s experience as a mother offers a poignant reflection on the everyday impacts of national turmoil. Additionally, the journey of these characters is a microcosm of the potential for societal progression.

And that’s why Israela holds a mirror to today’s world, with what’s happening in the current Israel-Gaza war. It’s a valuable addition for those interested in understanding the human aspect of these conflicts. This novel encourages us to look beyond our differences and find common ground in our shared humanity. The lessons gleaned from the characters are essential for promoting a more empathetic and unified world.

– The Moving Words Review

Official Entry: The Most Moving Book Award, Jan. 3, 2025