Book Review: Disengagement by Daniella Levy @DaniellaNLevy

Daniella Levy
Kasva Press, March 2020
ISBN 978-1-948403-13-9
Trade Paperback

In 2005 Israel withdrew 8,000 residents from the Gaza strip and five settlements in northern Samaria. Neve Adra is a fictional settlement but this novel is based on the event called “the disengagement.” The settlement has twenty or so stone houses, some caravans, and a synagogue, surrounded by sand. Greenhouses are built, and crops are raised. After the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli government made an effort to establish a Jewish presence throughout Gaza. One of the masterminds was General Ariel Sharon.

Elected prime minister in 2001, Sharon promised a tough approach to protect the settlements.  He visited the local rabbi’s family and promised to defend their home. In 2003 he announced a plan for withdrawal from Palestinian territories, which caused uproar on the political right.

The chapters focus on different characters at different times. Narrators include a left-wing newspaper columnist; a Russian-born protest organizer; Rabbi Schlomo, who lost his leg in the Six Day War, and his family. His wife was reluctant to move to the settlement—in the early days there was no electricity, running water, schools, or transportation. There is tension between the Arab workers and the Jewish settlers. One of the young settlers, Aharon, is killed by a mortar shell to the greenhouse.

This is more than the story of a settlement in the Gaza. It’s about what it means to be disengaged from love, friends, neighbors, family and from deeply held beliefs.  It shows how listening to one another and learning from unexpected encounters can help to become connected.

The author lives in Israel and blogs about life as a religious Jew in Israel. Her family immigrated to Israel when she was a child.

Reviewed by Susan Belsky, July 2020.

Book Review: Covenant by Dean Crawford

Dean Crawford
Touchstone Books, October 2011
ISBN 9781451628531

What if you had nothing to lose? However, what if you had everything to gain? What if you were a party to discovering a secret going back millennia, possibly to the beginning of the rise of mankind? Of course, you know there will be others involved who want the secret for themselves. Thus it is in Dean Crawford’s debut thriller, Covenant. From the untamed and violent Israeli deserts to the equally wild urban jungle of Washington, D.C., two sets of individuals try to unravel a mystery while a third, looming group seeks to control the secret for its own fanatical purposes.

His fiancé abducted three years ago, Ethan Warner, former soldier and war correspondent, has been living a rough life. Then, he is recruited by a military buddy to find the man’s granddaughter, Lucy Morgan. An archaeologist working in the Negev Desert, Lucy has been abducted by an unknown party shortly after discovering remains of a humanoid some are suggesting is alien in origin. Meanwhile, back in Washington, D.C., two homicide investigators stumble onto what, at first, looks like a simple case of three overdose victims. However, after the post mortem, one of the victims is rife with anomalies. Evading a ruthless civilian security force, Warner and Lucy’s mother seek answers not only to Lucy’s whereabouts, but to life itself, while the investigators piece together clues that implicate a powerful and controversial pastor.

With short chapters and death defying action scenes, Crawford presents a fast moving tale of intrigue, science, and technology, while revealing some of the mysteries of the origins of life. Where did mankind originate? Why do cultures around the world have similar stories of and throughout history? This book doesn’t seek to answer these questions, but it does spur the imagination.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, November 2011.