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The Settler: A novel of modern Israel (Historical Middle Eastern Romance Fiction)

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Like the thousands who made their lives in the rural settlement of Gush Katif in Gaza, college freshman Sarah Dakar didn’t believe the Israel Defense Force would dare kick Jews out of their homes in Gaza. “Jews Don’t Expel Jews” she cried along with the Zionist activists seeking to stop what they called “The Expulsion.” Once she is dragged out of her home by the Jewish arm Like the thousands who made their lives in the rural settlement of Gush Katif in Gaza, college freshman Sarah Dakar didn’t believe the Israel Defense Force would dare kick Jews out of their homes in Gaza. “Jews Don’t Expel Jews” she cried along with the Zionist activists seeking to stop what they called “The Expulsion.” Once she is dragged out of her home by the Jewish army she had once idolized–and to which her brother lost his life–she decides: Screw it. Screw God. Screw the country. Screw the Jewish people. She sets off for Israel’s big city, Tel Aviv, seductively fertile ground for a religious rebel. The colorful lights and sizzling music of Tel Aviv's world-famous nightclub, Atlantis, ignite her love for dance. Despite herself, she is drawn to its charismatic, liberal owner, Ziv Harel. He's intrigued by the prospect of transforming a “religious settler” into a nightlife queen. Their tortured romance forces both to confront their deep-seated values, but how far will Sarah go to question who she is and what she believes—and at what cost?


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Like the thousands who made their lives in the rural settlement of Gush Katif in Gaza, college freshman Sarah Dakar didn’t believe the Israel Defense Force would dare kick Jews out of their homes in Gaza. “Jews Don’t Expel Jews” she cried along with the Zionist activists seeking to stop what they called “The Expulsion.” Once she is dragged out of her home by the Jewish arm Like the thousands who made their lives in the rural settlement of Gush Katif in Gaza, college freshman Sarah Dakar didn’t believe the Israel Defense Force would dare kick Jews out of their homes in Gaza. “Jews Don’t Expel Jews” she cried along with the Zionist activists seeking to stop what they called “The Expulsion.” Once she is dragged out of her home by the Jewish army she had once idolized–and to which her brother lost his life–she decides: Screw it. Screw God. Screw the country. Screw the Jewish people. She sets off for Israel’s big city, Tel Aviv, seductively fertile ground for a religious rebel. The colorful lights and sizzling music of Tel Aviv's world-famous nightclub, Atlantis, ignite her love for dance. Despite herself, she is drawn to its charismatic, liberal owner, Ziv Harel. He's intrigued by the prospect of transforming a “religious settler” into a nightlife queen. Their tortured romance forces both to confront their deep-seated values, but how far will Sarah go to question who she is and what she believes—and at what cost?

30 review for The Settler: A novel of modern Israel (Historical Middle Eastern Romance Fiction)

  1. 4 out of 5

    MaryJane Rings

    This is an amazing book of the other side of the story. We who live in a country that has never been invaded in modern times except at Pearl Harbor during WW11. We can't begin to imagine or understand what it is like to hear bombing in our towns, see the destruction or be taken against our will from our homes. We are not at the mercy of the current government as to where we should live or who we should fear. The culture and traditions of the Orthodox Jews is well depicted and it was very eye ope This is an amazing book of the other side of the story. We who live in a country that has never been invaded in modern times except at Pearl Harbor during WW11. We can't begin to imagine or understand what it is like to hear bombing in our towns, see the destruction or be taken against our will from our homes. We are not at the mercy of the current government as to where we should live or who we should fear. The culture and traditions of the Orthodox Jews is well depicted and it was very eye opening to this reader. I have always been very respectful of other's religions and ways of thinking but to see the solemn observance of Sabbat and the gathering of the family together is full of meaning and the roots of their observances run deep. It was nothing short of inspiring. Having been raised in a Roman Catholic tradition, this book increased my understanding of the traditions that came long before Christianity. The pull of secular world for Sarah was very strong as she was coming of age and also trying to justify the political injustice and the chaos around her. It caused her guilt but she was driven to find somewhere to have fun. She was very lucky to find kindness and friendship from those she met. The story has an interesting conclusion but the artistry is in the depiction of life in Israel and the ongoing uncertainties of coping in Middle Eastern politics and often conflicting cultures. A great read from many standpoints. Although I had no preconceived opinions before reading this book. It gave me great insight to a way of life in a part of the world so far away that only appears on the news. It shows the heart of the people and as the book progresses they become familiar and very real. Books like this give us an understanding of the need to find out more about the cultures of this very ancient and volatile area of the world.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charles Ray

    The Settler by Orit Arfa is billed as a historical Middle Eastern romance, but it’s much more than that. It’s the story of how one woman, Sara Dakar, a resident of the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif, deals with life after she and her fellow settlers are expelled and the settlement destroyed. Even more, it’s a story of modern Israel, and the question of whether it’s a democratic country or a nascent religious dictatorship. Arfa takes us through the broad sweep of Middle Eastern politics vis a vis The Settler by Orit Arfa is billed as a historical Middle Eastern romance, but it’s much more than that. It’s the story of how one woman, Sara Dakar, a resident of the Jewish settlement of Gush Katif, deals with life after she and her fellow settlers are expelled and the settlement destroyed. Even more, it’s a story of modern Israel, and the question of whether it’s a democratic country or a nascent religious dictatorship. Arfa takes us through the broad sweep of Middle Eastern politics vis a vis Israel, and a down and dirty tour through present day Israel as it copes with the contradictions and inconsistencies in a society that has seen more than its share of death and sadness as its people seek love and fun. This is not a weekend read, unless you have a long holiday weekend with no other distractions. It’s hard to put down, but it’s also doubtful that you can get through it in one sitting; it’s just too intense. Regardless of where you stand on the Arab-Israeli issue or the problem of Israeli settlements, you will enjoy reading this book. In fact, if you want to understand the dilemma that’s the Israeli problem better, I recommend this be one of the texts that you consult.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zahava D.

    Through her very well written novel, The Settler, Orit Arfa tells an important story that has never before been told . While the characters are fictional, the story is based on actual events in Israel and opens the reader to a part of Israel that few truly get a glimpse of. I am glad that Ms. Orfa took it upon herself to get this story out. This was a page turner that grabs at the heart and shows the multi dementional character of the people of Israel. I highly recommend The Settler. The Settler Through her very well written novel, The Settler, Orit Arfa tells an important story that has never before been told . While the characters are fictional, the story is based on actual events in Israel and opens the reader to a part of Israel that few truly get a glimpse of. I am glad that Ms. Orfa took it upon herself to get this story out. This was a page turner that grabs at the heart and shows the multi dementional character of the people of Israel. I highly recommend The Settler. The Settler

  4. 5 out of 5

    Judith Baxter

    MEET JUDITH BAXTER SEARCH Search for: Search … The Settler december 1, 2017 by judithhb, posted in book reviews, historical fiction, uncategorized The Settler This book centres around Sarah, a young Zionist who lives quietly and peaceably with her family in the Gaza Strip. That is until the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, reneges on his earlier promise and sends in security forces to expel the 8,000 plus Jews from their homes. The forces then proceed to raze all the buildings leaving devastation behind. MEET JUDITH BAXTER SEARCH Search for: Search … The Settler december 1, 2017 by judithhb, posted in book reviews, historical fiction, uncategorized The Settler This book centres around Sarah, a young Zionist who lives quietly and peaceably with her family in the Gaza Strip. That is until the Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, reneges on his earlier promise and sends in security forces to expel the 8,000 plus Jews from their homes. The forces then proceed to raze all the buildings leaving devastation behind. Sarah and her family, all 5 of them, are rehoused temporarily in 2 rooms in a down market hotel. The overcrowding, lack of privacy and sense of being in the wrong place causes Sarah to leave for Tel Avi. Here she catches up with her cousin Dael, a musician and longtime supporter of Sarah. Here we watch and wonder as Sarah transforms from an inexperienced, religious young woman into a nightclub superstar and the lover of Ziv, the mesmerising owner of the nightclub Atlantis. The characters are all well written and believable. We feel for Sarah (now called Sachar) as she makes her unsteady progress from being a loved and protected daughter in a Zionist family to the reigning Queen of Atlantis. We move with her as she rejects all she has learned before and as she learns to dress, walk, smoke and speak in this new world in which she finds herself and then onwards to the place where she can become herself; a powerful woman in her own right. This is an amazing story and although it is depicted as fiction I am left feeling that so much of it is based on fact. We know all good fiction includes a certain amount of fact. If I have any complaints it is the use of so many words unknown to those of us not of the Jewish faith. Perhaps Orit could have translated a few more of the words for us. Note -I was given this book to read by the author and in return, I choose to write this review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mary Vogelsong

    This book opened a window into Jewish culture and the ancient conflict over land. The main character, Sarah, and her family are forced from their home in Gush Katif (an area in Gaza under Jewish control) as part of what the Israeli government called “Disengagement“. To Sarah and the other Jewish settlers there, it is the “Expulsion”. The death of Sarah’s brother Aaron while serving in the army, along with being uprooted by Israeli soldiers, pushes Sarah into a crisis of faith. She seemingly turn This book opened a window into Jewish culture and the ancient conflict over land. The main character, Sarah, and her family are forced from their home in Gush Katif (an area in Gaza under Jewish control) as part of what the Israeli government called “Disengagement“. To Sarah and the other Jewish settlers there, it is the “Expulsion”. The death of Sarah’s brother Aaron while serving in the army, along with being uprooted by Israeli soldiers, pushes Sarah into a crisis of faith. She seemingly turns her back on God and the strict observances of law and tradition she was raised with, and plunges into a worldly lifestyle of sex, drugs, and night clubbing. The author uses many Hebrew words, but usually she puts the English beside them, or you can tell from the context what the meaning is. If you are reading on a Kindle, you can tap the word to get a definition in most instances. I won’t share how the story turns out because I don’t want to be a “spoiler”, but if this topic interests you, it is worth the read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nat Hensley

    Really good! This is the second book I've read from Orit Arfa, and I enjoyed it as much as the first. I usually don't read books based in modern history, and I'm not super familiar with Jewish culture, but that's fine because she describes things so well, it feels natural to me. Sarah is a good strong female character, looking for her place in world that has been tossed from the strict traditions she was raised on, into war, and grief in a whole new world. She's having a crisis of faith and tryin Really good! This is the second book I've read from Orit Arfa, and I enjoyed it as much as the first. I usually don't read books based in modern history, and I'm not super familiar with Jewish culture, but that's fine because she describes things so well, it feels natural to me. Sarah is a good strong female character, looking for her place in world that has been tossed from the strict traditions she was raised on, into war, and grief in a whole new world. She's having a crisis of faith and trying to find something meaningful. Ziv isn't the answer she was looking for, but he draws her in all the same. Seeing her journey from a naive refugee to the powerful woman she becomes is great, and the ending leaves you satisfied.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Wilen

    Beyond the Biblical tales, beyond the headlines, Israelis try to live ordinary lives. But ordinary became extraordinary for Sarah Dakar when Israeli troops evicted her from a Gaza Strip "settlement". Can an earnest Zionist reconcile with a State that she thinks betrayed her? And can a young woman from a religious background ever REALLY become a party girl? In "The Settler", author Orit Arfa makes coming of age in Israel as much a personal story as it is the narration of a generation. You won't read Beyond the Biblical tales, beyond the headlines, Israelis try to live ordinary lives. But ordinary became extraordinary for Sarah Dakar when Israeli troops evicted her from a Gaza Strip "settlement". Can an earnest Zionist reconcile with a State that she thinks betrayed her? And can a young woman from a religious background ever REALLY become a party girl? In "The Settler", author Orit Arfa makes coming of age in Israel as much a personal story as it is the narration of a generation. You won't read a tale like this anywhere else! ✯✯✯✯✯

  8. 4 out of 5

    Andreas J. Bendzin

    It is better than some other books. Instead of focusing on sexual relationships. The Settler surprisingly focuses little on it. Instead it shows a woman traumatized after the expulsion from Neve Dekalim which is part of Gush Katif in Gaza. At first she tries to escape from who she was to something she is not. Towards the end she comes back full circle. Stronger and prouder pulling those along who first were against the “settlements” to fully embracing it. Good book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Laura Ben-David

    What a great story! Set against a backdrop that is oh-so-real for the American ex-pat living in Israel, Orit Arfa weaves a touching, sassy, energetic and sexy account that is both moving and exciting. A great read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Gore

    This was a very interesting story about the Jewish culture. Not being Jewish, I had a difficult time figuring out what that was about. The main story line was good and was an easy read. Just was not my best read book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    What an Amazing Read!!! My articulating is totally lacking. This is a must read and then some!! Makes me want to visit.the homeland!! So many displaced!! Thank.you Ms. Arfa for sharing!!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mindy

    coming of age novel . Ably portrayed many sides of modern Israeli society

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate A

    Good story. Sad though.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Eckmann

    A great read. Really fun and deep at the same time. I learned a lot about Israel and really entered all the scenes and emotions through the really good writing.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Eva Goldstein-meola

    A great and important read! Ms. Afra has great talent to tell such a compelling tale. Impeccably written.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nina

    Insider's look at the Jewish settlements; young Israelis' ways of life - Twoje ciało zabili Arabowie, Żydzi zabili Twoją duszę - modli się Sarah Dakar podczas drugiego pogrzebu swojego brata Arona, żołnierza izraelskiego, który poległ w wojnie libańskiej. Do ponownego pochówku prochów Arona dochodzi w nowym miejscu zamieszkania rodziny po ich wysiedleniu w 2006 roku z Gush Katif w Strefie Gazy. Rząd izraelski, na czele z ówczesnym premierem Arielem Szaronem, nazwał tę akcję Wycofaniem (Disengegem Insider's look at the Jewish settlements; young Israelis' ways of life - Twoje ciało zabili Arabowie, Żydzi zabili Twoją duszę - modli się Sarah Dakar podczas drugiego pogrzebu swojego brata Arona, żołnierza izraelskiego, który poległ w wojnie libańskiej. Do ponownego pochówku prochów Arona dochodzi w nowym miejscu zamieszkania rodziny po ich wysiedleniu w 2006 roku z Gush Katif w Strefie Gazy. Rząd izraelski, na czele z ówczesnym premierem Arielem Szaronem, nazwał tę akcję Wycofaniem (Disengegement). Mieszkańcy, których często siłą wynoszono z ich domostw, mówią o niej Wypędzenie (Expulsion). Sarah, o której tak jak o innych wysiedlonych jej nowi znajomi w Tel Awiwie mówią z pogardą Osadnicy (Settlers), innego swojego miejsca na ziemi niż Gush Katif nie znała. Jej rodzice zamieszkali tam w latach 1950., ojciec po przyjeździe z USA, matka z Iraku. Jest wściekła i rozżalona, na państwo, które ją zawiodło, na przywódców religijnych, których podejrzewa o uległość wobec urzędników państwowych i żołnierzy, którzy z naszywką gwiazdy Dawida na piersi brutalnie wynieśli ją z domu, oraz na samego Boga, który kolejny raz opuścił swój lud, albo po prostu nie istnieje. W Tel Awiwie Sarah rzuca się w wir nowego życia. Zostaje dziewczyną z plakatu najmodniejszego klubu nocnego Atlantis, wdaje się w romans z właścicielem klubu Zivem Halerem, prawie zrywa kontakt ze swoją religijną rodziną. Ale zapomnieć, wyzwolić się z traumy nie potrafi. Wbrew przekonaniu swoich lewicowych znajomych nie wierzy, że polityka "ziemia za pokój" okaże się skuteczna. Ta powieść o współczesnym Izraelu bardzo różni się od tych, które dotychczas czytałam. Holocaust dla Sary i jej rówieśników nie jest tym wydarzeniem, bez którego myśleć i mówić o Izraelu nie można. Jeśli w ich przemyśleniach i rozmowach pojawiają się takie pojęcia jak zbrodnia, bezsilność, rozpacz to odnoszą się one do stosunków izraelsko-arabskich i rozczarowania polityką elit rządzących. Nie można natomiast mówić i myśleć o Izraelu nie odnosząc się do żydowskich tradycji religijnych, choć w swoisty sposób przefiltrowanych przez młodych, dalekich od ortodoksji Izraelczyków. Mimo że, o czym kilka razy wspomina Sarah, twórcy państwa Izrael ludźmi religijnymi nie byli. Książka napisana jest z pasją i zaangażowaniem, w dużym stopniu wynikających z odczuć i ewolucji poglądów autorki, dziennikarki, malarki, autorki tekstów piosenek, urodzonej w Kalifornii, od 1999 roku mieszkającej również w Izraelu i Berlinie. Chwilami razi melodramatyzmem i przede wszystkim sztucznymi, napuszonymi dialogami. Ich język niewiele różni się od skądinąd ciekawych, choć czasami naiwnych refleksji młodych bohaterów na temat życia, religii, miłości czy muzyki. Jej główna wartość to obraz wydarzeń przeżywanych i interpretowanych przez uczestników, osobom postronnym znanych głównie z powierzchownych relacji medialnych.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo Coto

    I won’t pretend to be a book critic because I’ll fail miserably; yes, I’ve read enough books in my life to fill a cargo container, but that doesn’t make me a literature expert. I however want to be brave and comment about this book; it is the least I can do after such a good read. If the reference to the “cargo container” was not explanatory enough, let me be clear: I’ve read lots of books, more than you would think possible for a 49 year old human; and yet this book has touched me in unexpected I won’t pretend to be a book critic because I’ll fail miserably; yes, I’ve read enough books in my life to fill a cargo container, but that doesn’t make me a literature expert. I however want to be brave and comment about this book; it is the least I can do after such a good read. If the reference to the “cargo container” was not explanatory enough, let me be clear: I’ve read lots of books, more than you would think possible for a 49 year old human; and yet this book has touched me in unexpected ways. This book is an ode to life, to love and the attachment to the land; it is a praise to human’s will and endurance when faced with despair, humiliation and scorn, even by its own people. At every page turn, this book brought to memory that incredible song by one of my country- women, Gloria Estefan; the song, “Mi Tierra” [“My Land”], speaks of the attachment and longing for the land left behind. I never quite grasped the meaning of this song, as well as when reading this book; after being almost forced to hate my country (Cuba), reading this book, made me feel for the land that I left behind twelve years ago. And it is not only about land, it is also about testing your faith and your strength; the fall and rise of the main character, Sarah, first abandoning her roots, rebelling, and then coming back with a strong will to make sure no one ever forgets, is inspiring and energy fueling. I’ve felt exaltation reading this book, I have suffered together with the characters, their angst, their guilt, and their contradictions; I’ve been shaken to the ground and inspired to do better, because this story is revealing - it moves you. I need to say that I was a neophyte about the Jewish nation and the Jewish people before reading this book; I’ve been forced to learn more, to discover on my own about the Israelites, their history, their suffering and their challenges. This story has humbled me in many ways and for the first time after all these years in Canada, I’ve come to understand the plight of the First Nations, their attachment to the land, their fight for recognition and their rights. You can’t divorce the history from the people, you can’t uproot your customs because it is convenient; this book has reminded me of that. My knowledge of literature, my comments, might not help to propel this book to literary glory, or to a winning prize; but I think Orit Arfa has managed to take me on a roller coaster of emotions, making me cry, making me full of sorrow, and also feeling joy together with the lives of the people on this story. Even knowing that the story is fictional, it feels so real that you live it through the book in the smallest of the details; it is as if you are there in the land of Israel, going through the transformation of Sarah and the battle of the Jewish people. Orit, thank you for such a wonderful story, you have touched me in ways I might not have words to express.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    An impeccably written multi-layered novel that perfectly portrays both the story of Sarah Dakar and and the innumerable nuances and distinctions of contemporary Israel. It narrates the drama of the people expelled from their homes in Gush Katif and brings to attention the political consequences of the the so called disengagement from Gaza. Since it is not a preachy book, it is recommended also for readers who do not share Orit Arfa's views. The novel has memorable characters to many of them the An impeccably written multi-layered novel that perfectly portrays both the story of Sarah Dakar and and the innumerable nuances and distinctions of contemporary Israel. It narrates the drama of the people expelled from their homes in Gush Katif and brings to attention the political consequences of the the so called disengagement from Gaza. Since it is not a preachy book, it is recommended also for readers who do not share Orit Arfa's views. The novel has memorable characters to many of them the reader can relate with heart. It is also a book for music lovers, as the transformation of Sarah Dakar takes place in that "scene". The book is "character-driven", but it also has a plot which makes it a page turner. I realized that many of the reviews were written by female readers, yet I highly recommend it to male readers as well. Although the main character is Sarah (and it is written from her viewpoint), there are strong male characters like her cousin Dael and of course the charismatic Ziv Harel. Exactly that sublime blend of romance, political debate, social portrayals and philosophical questions between the lines makes it an unforgettable novel.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ilana

    Although I was not too much caught by the romantic part of the story, I really appreciated the intellectual debate and the distinctions and nuances brought into discussion regarding the Gush Katif movement and the consequences of the 2005 fratricid tensions and conflict. An interesting discussion that maybe might continue, especially at the literary level.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel kornfeld

    4.5 כוכבים

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kary

    I liked the story of good girl, bad girl, better girl. I have not read many stories of modern Israel and the fighting amongst the people of the Gaza Strip.

  22. 5 out of 5

    donald albert

  23. 5 out of 5

    Vivien Silber

    not my favorite

  24. 5 out of 5

    Margery

  25. 5 out of 5

    Orit Arfa

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joan Exner

  27. 5 out of 5

    Polly

  28. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

  29. 4 out of 5

    pris laliberte

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jolene Boden

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