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An Improbable Friendship: Two Prominent Women, a Palestinian and a Jew, Join Hands to Fight for Peace

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  402 ratings  ·  45 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 goal—human rights for all, regardless of nationality or beliefs. Their friendship has often been ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Arcade Publishing
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  402 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2016
I picked this book as a memoir/biography choice, thinking I would learn more about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, which I did. I did not expect to like it as much as I did. As a matter of fact, I found it hard to put down and stayed up waaaaay too late reading.

This is a book about two extraordinary women living through extraordinary times. Their enduring friendship, despite being on opposite sides of the fence, is a testimony to the goodness that lies in the human heart. This book gives me
Marge Rudman
Mar 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Opportunity tragically missed

One weeps! For the Isrealies and Palestinians the golden window of opportunity for a workable country in the Holy Land was dashed by hard-liners. Had the leadership of the factions followed the leadership of these two marvelous women the Middle East might very well be a different place today. The stories of these two women and their friendship is an inspiration. The writer's clean, straight-forward style and empathy for all parties gives us a most worthy read for
Feb 17, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I enjoyed the subject matter of An Improbable Friendship but found the writing style a bit grating. (The use of all-caps to signify yelling should be banned in print.) Also, the opening and concluding chapters are a bit hokey for my tastes. I'm interested in learning more about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but I doubt I'll pick up another book by this author. That being said, I appreciate his mission and his clear, though perhaps unrealistic, desire to be objective.
Karen Schmit
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
I loved learning the personal history and friendship of these 2 women who come from such different backgrounds. The history of Israel and Palestine is amazingly complex and the tales this author relays had me riveted to this book. He shone a bright light on the history, the ongoing chaos and the pleas for change. I was often a bit confused who the author was referring to, so pay close attention and take your time reading it........ This book is a big achievement for Raymonda (mother in law of ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the first time I can see clearly the Israel and Palestine ... dilemma?!
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Sad to finish this. Why? Many reasons. In the midst of the centenary of the Balfour Declaration (on Palestine) it would be a good read for anyone.
It is a generous history. What do I mean by that? Well it is a well written combination of personal, local and world history from a grounded standpoint. The two woman are Ruth Dayan, wife of Israeli General Moshe Dayan and Raymonda Tawil, mother-in-law of Yasser Arafat. Their lives did not begin at those points, they were not always 'at that moment'
Nov 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Therese by: Marilyn
Some people may consider the friendship of Ruth Dayan, and Israeli and the former wife of Moshe Dayan and Raymonda Tawil, a Palestinian and the former mother-in-law of Yasser Arafat to be improbable, but I have a feeling friendships like these have existed since the dawn of time, at least when men has been in charge of wars. These women worked to have peace, but the Israelis and Palestinians can’t trust each other, and while I didn’t think this was so much a book about their friendship (they ...more
Pam Walker
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting and well-written story about two remarkable women--Ruth Dayan, widow of Moshe Dayan, and Raymonda Tawil, mother-in-law of Yassar Arafat. The two women worked on their own for many years trying to get freedom for their respective countries. Then, as friends, they worked together to try to get peace and freedom for their countries. I did have some difficulty keeping up with all the characters--excepet the main ones--as to who belonged to which country. I would also ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it liked it
I appreciate the learning experience, but I’m also relieved to finish this book. For me, getting into it was kind of like trying to enjoy a Magic Eye picture. If I relaxed and looked at the whole picture without concentrating on the distracting details (excessive name-dropping, all-caps shouting, unmemorable side stories), I gained tremendous perspective on a complex conflict and received the familiar message that connection leads to understanding. Overall, I’m glad I read it, especially the ...more
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating book based on interviews of Ruth Dayan, wife of Moshe Dayan, and Raymonda Tawil (mother in law of Arafat). Their personal lives and friendship tell the Israel-Arab/Palestine conflict on a personal level. I had trouble following some of the events and associations, but finished it satisfied that there is a humanistic solution to the complex issues and sad at the current direction of the geo political policies. A good example of strong, consistent women. A devastating story of male ...more
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Insightful story about the friendship of Ruth Dayan and Raymonda Tawil, two strong, intelligent and driven women with power and position on either side of the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. It was fascinating to hear about their individual lives and their combined work. I recommend this book, but with a strong caveat: the writing is horrible. It read more like a long Wikipedia article. Such a shame that this important story wasn’t given a better presentation.
Mary L.
Good story; editing could have been better

Good story. Story told well but not well written. Story jumped around. In sections that seemed dedicated to one aspect, others inserted. Editing lacking- many words spelled differently through out. Sometimes on same page. Distracting.

Particularly appreciated occasional references to US and other countries reactions to events. Impact of Balfour might have been referenced.
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting look back at the past and see how the history of the tensions between Israel and Palestine developed. The two women from opposite sides, Ruth Dayan, wife of Moshe Dayan and Raymonda Tawil, Arafat's mother-in-law, found peace and harmony with each other and tried to work with each other's countries to find the same peace.
Suzanne Saltzberg
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting book. The two woman come off a little too saint-like and therefore loose some realism. The politics and positions are very left bias. Presents an interesting perspective even if it is one sided.
Sandy Shin
Jul 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
A great look at the lives of women related th imperfect men on opposing sides. A great read and thought provoking how little the religions were central in any of their lives, but appeared to be a central cause of the conflict. The women seem to be the only adults present
Jun 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting book about friendship between two women who belong to warring nations. The women want peace between there people but they face so much adversity. I learned so much about this cultural.
Jan 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
e-book If these two women could do it, why can't something be worked out!!
David Miraldi
Jun 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I found this an interesting read that brought new insights into the Israeli-Palestinian struggle.
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Humanity in a complex situation.

Amazing....these women made a difference. Thanks for sharing their story. If only men would listen, maybe things would be different.
Dec 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
improbable but inspiring, frustrating, infuriating. the women are strong and fighting for what's right. but, oh the futility and the tragedy of it all!
Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A remarkable history of the friendship between natural enemies that could see beyond their differences and found a common ground: the fight for freedom, peace, and civil discourse.
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't crazy about the writing, but the subject matter and story about these two incredible women was intriguing and beautiful. Loved this book from start to finish.
As I know very little about the history of Israel and Palestine I found this book to be a great introduction. It actually starts just before WWII so it covers a lot of history. It represents both Israeli and Palestinian view points through Ruth Dayan (Israeli) and Raymonda Tawil (Palestinian) and their friendship. With Ruth having been married and divorced from Moshe Dayan and Raymonda having such close ties to Yasser Arafat (her daughter was married to him) it is able to cover much history of ...more
Charlie Shaw
Wonderful book. Anyone who wants to understand the problem of Palestinians and Israelis on a personal level should read and absorb what these two remarkable women were able to share, lead and promote in the Middle. East. So well written it is like reading two biographies and a historical anthology together.
Karen Brownell
Very interesting book which, through telling the story of the friendship of these two women, provided a lot of information on the political situation between Israel and the Palestinians. Neither side was portrayed as "right" or "wrong", but I think the author provided the facts and readers can see how complicated and probably unresolvable the relationship really is. Still, if these two women can keep their friendship going for over 40 years, there is hope.
Jessie Scott
May 10, 2018 rated it it was ok
I find Israel, about to celebrate its 70th anniversary, to be fascinating, and I have read numerous books about its short history. I had no idea that this friendship between two elite members of either 'side' existed, and I think it is a damning indictment of patriarchal society that there is still no peace in the Holy Land - it seems if these women were in charge a lot of blood would never have been spilt. It is quite rare to see the Israel-Palestinian conflict from an eyewitness perspective, ...more
Jan 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Palestinian and Israeli relations are complex, to say the least, but this book provides a very readable and accessible overview dated from 1917. The major focus of the book, and its real strength, is the story of the friendship between Ruth Dayan, wife of an Israeli general, and Raymonda Tawil, mother-in-law of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Both these women are inspirational for their strength of character, their role in promoting women's rights and their humanitarian work. Important ...more
Oct 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
A book well worth reading, although not always easy to follow nor the best written. However, the story of Ruth Dayan and Raymonda Tawil far overrides any shortcomings this book might have. And, in spite of all the good these two women have done and their shining example, nothing has changed. Nevertheless, these two have risen far above their surroundings. They are capable of seeing a much bigger picture. A very insightful read.
Jill Sapoznick
Aug 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I learned a lot about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict from this book but I was interested in learning about the two women's friendship and interactions. I did not get a lot of this since it really is not expanded upon until 2/3 way through the book and not very detailed. I was expecting something completely different.

If you want to know more about each of these women then reading this book will be interesting for you.
Jan 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stopped-reading
This would be a good book for someone who already understands the history, geography and who's who of the Middle East. I finally gave up after getting about halfway through it. I thought it was like reading a list of facts and people, without much passion, and I couldn't keep them all straight. When I realized that I felt like I had to drag myself back to this book, I just quit reading it.
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