Synopses & Reviews
In this dramatic, historic book, American journalist Anthony David tells the story of two iconic women from enemy camps: Ruth Dayan from Israel and Raymonda Tawil from Palestine. We learn who they are, how they met, and how they discovered they were fighting for the same goalhuman rights for all, regardless of nationality or beliefs. Their friendship has often been parlayed into bettering the lives of the less privileged around them.
Ruth Dayan is the widow of Moshe Dayan, who conquered the West Bank in the Six-Day War, and is an ardent advocate for human and womens rights. Described by the Israeli paper Haaretz as Israels Queen Mother,” she founded a house for fashion and decorative art, Maskit, that employed thousands of new immigrants, giving them a venue to preserve and modernize their ethnic crafts and culture. She has since been hired by the US State Department to do the same throughout Latin America. Raymonda Tawil, representative to Paris of the Palestine Liberation Organization, mother-in-law of Yasser Arafat, journalist, and feminist, finds herself in constant trouble with her government for being a long-time pioneer for rapprochement between Palestine and Israel. She has been called the unofficial press officer of the West Bank” and remains among the most committed Palestinians for reconciliation with Israel.
With extensive research, the author gives us a new and unique window into both the Middle East and the intricate web of human stories behind the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"If it hadn't actually occurred, the friendship between Ruth Dayan (born 1917), the first wife of Israeli politician Moshe Dayan, and Raymonda Tawil (born 1940), the mother-in-law of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, would seem not merely improbable but impossible. This joint biography from David (coauthor of Once Upon a Country) traces the women's lives prior to 1970, the year of their meeting, and the collaboration that followed, one peppered with 'standard quarrels' but forged by a mutual commitment to peace. In addition to noting the preeminence of politics in Dayan and Tawil's lives, David opens up their personal lives: their childhoods, their children, their travails (Dayan's divorce, Tawil's house arrest), and their enterprises (Dayan's Maskit, a craft and design collective employing immigrant women; Tawil's news agency). David, who wrote the book at the women's request, had access to Dayan's many cassette tapes and letters and to Tawil's diary, along with the many interviews he's conducted with them since 2009. At times, the biography has an 'as told by' tone; in other sections, a novelistic tone creeps in, obscuring the difference between recreated conversation and recorded interviews. Some readers may find the admiring tone overly lacking in objectivity and critical distance, but David has succeeded in creating a vivid portrait of two very feisty women. 20 b&w photos. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"From their relationship we learn the behind-the-scenes history of the Middle East." —Jewish Advocate
"With its fascinating details about the relationship between Moshe Dayans wife and Yasser Arafats mother-in-law, An Improbable Friendship reminds us of a bygone era when influential Palestinians and Israelis worked together for peace." Trudy Rubin, Worldview columnist, The Philadelphia Inquirer
There are many powerful men in this riveting bookMoshe Dayan, Yasser Arafat, Ezer Weizman, among othersand enough intrigue, violence, and danger to fill a thriller. But the two suns at the center of this illuminating dual biography are womenbrilliant, passionate, driven feminists whose unique friendship should serve as a model for international relations and people-to-people dialogue. Without downplaying their political, cultural, and religious differences, Anthony David deftly describes what fuels the enduring relationship between Ruth Dayan and Raymonda Tawiltheir capacity to honor the dignity and aspirations of the other and their indefatigable quest for peace. Had Ruth and Raymonda been in charge, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would have ended four decades ago. Think about that as you dive into this compelling story.” Letty Cottin Pogrebin, author of Single Jewish Male Seeking Soul Mate and founding editor of Ms. magazine
To someone like me who has been deeply involved in pursuing peace between Israelis and Palestinians for fifty years, this book reveals unexpected nuggets of gold in describing the unlikely friendship between the much older Ruth Dayan and the fearless beauty, Raymonda Tawil. This untold story through the eyes of two extraordinary women, both feminists, pursuers of peace who never gave up, is a compelling read. Especially riveting is the account of their respective daughters, Yael Dayan, writer and activist, and Suha Tawil, widow of Yasser Arafat. Its a revelation.” Lilly Rivlin, filmmaker and longtime peace activist
An Improbable Friendship
is the dual biography of Israeli Ruth Dayan, now ninety-eight, who was Moshe Dayans wife for thirty-seven years, and Palestinian journalist Raymonda Tawil, Yasser Arafats mother-in-law, now seventy-four. It reveals for the first time the two womens surprising and secret forty-year friendship and delivers the story of their extraordinary and turbulent lives growing up in a war-torn country.
Based on personal interviews, diaries, and journals drawn from both womenRuth lives today in Tel Aviv, Raymonda in Maltaauthor Anthony David delivers a fast-paced, fascinating narrative that is a beautiful story of reconciliation and hope in a climate of endless conflict. By experiencing their stories and following their budding relationship, which began after the Six-Day War in 1967, we learn the behind-the-scenes, undisclosed history of the Middle Easts most influential leaders from two prominent women on either side of the ongoing conflict.
An award-winning biographer and historian, Anthony David brings us the story of unexpected friendship while he discovers the true pasts of two outstanding women. Their story gives voice to Israelis and Palestinians caught in the Middle East conflict and holds a persistent faith in a future of peace.
About the Author
has written eight books, including his collaboration with Palestinian leader Sari Nusseibeh on his autobiography, Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life
, voted one of the best books of the year by the Christian Science Monitor
and Amazon and awarded the biennial 2010 Siegried Unseld Prize presented by Suhrkamp; Lamentations of Youth: The Diaries of Gershom Scholem 19131923
; and the forthcoming The Letters of Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem
. He holds a PhD in European history from the University of Chicago and currently lives in Jerusalem.