theladylovesbooks star rating 'What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?' by David Harris-Gershon

What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Okay, first of all, it’s an awful title — a terrible, terrible title.  Although after finishing the book I have to concede it reflects the superfluous, wordy style.  So that’s something…

American scholar David Harris-Gershon (pictured) moved to Jerusalem in 2000 with his wife Jamie.  Together they enrolled at Hebrew University to pursue graduate degrees in Jewish Education.  Shortly after arriving, peace talks broke down and Infitada took root.  The tentative political stability that had made them hopeful for a future of peaceful immersion in ancient traditions was shattered.

Yet the newlyweds were determined to remain in Israel.  They became used to military checkpoints and the distant rumbling of bombs.  Then, in July 2002, an explosion injured Jamie and killed her two friends.  She sustained second and third-degree burns over 30% of her body as well as internal damage caused by shrapnel.  Scarred both mentally and physically, the couple returned home to the US and settled in Washington DC.  They become parents to their “PTSD baby”, Noa, and later a second daughter, Tamar.

Though life continued David struggled to move on.  He wished to swap rage for hope, or at least reconciliation.  He believed that understanding the culprit would help him and so he reached out to the Palestinian bomber responsible, Mohammad Odeh.  In his quest to make sense of personal upheaval, David traces the origins of Hamas from the Muslim Brotherhood and the ensuing relationship with Israel’s political leaders.

The dense political quagmire that is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict overshadows the fascinating story of the couple’s struggle for acceptance and closure.  An over-reliance on endnotes and slightly cumbersome interweaving of political commentary and memoir make this ambitious title a challenging read.

This review is available at

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