Sometimes very good people do very bad things for very good reasons.
An unexpected and unexplained event changes everything in the settlement, Oranit.
The Israeli Intelligence Community investigates and opens a whole can of worms. Many revelations are revealed that would be better left hidden. What happens after leads the reader through parts of the history of the Jews and Israel, the Holocaust, the founding of the state, the Yom Kippur and Lebanese wars as seen in the microcosm of the new settlement, Oranit.
Crossed lines is both a historical novel and a murder mystery. It covers the turbulent years of setting up a new settlement, Oranit in the State of Israel.
Crossed Lines tells of the settlers’ difficulties as, despite opposition, they set up their settlement in no-man’s land, the “green line” that marks the border between Israel proper and the West Bank. The settlers’ shared individual family histories and experiences help forge both close bonds and bitter rivalries. In the backdrop are the difficult relations with the Israeli bureaucracy, local and national politics and the neighboring Palestinian population.
The shared experience of the group, sometimes tragic, sometimes hilarious, causes strange twists and turns but inevitably has the group of settlers achieving their one goal- setting up a new settlement, Oranit, in a part of Israel that is as beautiful as it is controversial.
Debut author Benjamin weaves a suspenseful mystery set in the Middle East into a deeper meditation on the powerful allure of home or, in this case, a land of one’s own. Jeannie is a former Israeli soldier and now an investigator for the Shabbak (once known as the Shin Bet). Her father was instrumental in founding Oranit, a new village established in fiercely disputed territory that straddles the border of Israeli and Palestinian controlled lands. An Arab helps with the construction of a controversial wall meant to symbolize the autonomy of Oranit as a village and the political sovereignty of its inhabitants. The Arab, Mahmud, turns up dead, and it’s quickly and not unreasonably assumed he was murdered by the vengeful PLO, enraged over his cooperation with Israeli settlers. A bullet casing is found, however, and new evidence opens up the case, implicating Mitch, the popular and powerful chairman of the village council. When the murder appears..
to connect to another nvestigation into Mitch’s possible involvement in land fraud and smuggling from Beirut, the stakes soar. The details of the mystery unfurl slowly and often confusedly, sometimes leaving the reader lost within a patchwork narrative that relies heavily on flashbacks and remembrances. Thankfully, close attention is repaid by an astute view of the conflict over land in the Middle East from the perspectives of concrete, human longings. Oranit is saturated with symbolic power: “Oranit was to be their Garden of Eden. When Jeannie first arrived, there was nothing there but a barren patch overlooking a beautiful leafy forest.” Also, a shocking final twist will leave one’s jaw agape.
Not a breezy read and often downright challenging, but worth the effort.