The Haj The Haj discussion


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Do you think it's biased?

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message 1: by Paula (last edited Aug 25, 2016 10:55AM) (new)

Paula I read The Haj recently, as I am trying to learn more about the Middle East. I enjoyed the book emmensely, but am wondering if anyone feels it is biased, being that Leon Uris is(was) Jewish. I realize the book is fiction, but Leon's depiction of the culture is interesting and I'm wondering how accurate?


message 2: by Anne (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:38PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anne Since I live in the Middle East, I can attest to the reality of the profile presented in the book. There were points in reading the book when I had to pause and say to myself, "Oh - that's way they act like that!" or "Yeah - I've heard people talk exactly this way!"
Perhaps the only thing that is exaggerated is the friendship between Gideon Asch and Haj Ibrahim. At one time friendships like that may have been possible, but since the most recent intifada and maybe before that, I've observed mostly tension and mistrust between Jews and Arabs, even on a personal level.


message 3: by Melinda (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:52PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Melinda It was definitely biased. While Arabs were constantly shown as barbaric, brutal, and morally bankrupt, Jewish characters were the kind, helpful, intelligent friends. How about having a realistic variety of characteristic spread equally over both groups?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Because those traits aren't equally spread across both groups. Many Arabs live in countries whose values and governments are antithetical to my view of freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So why pretend we're all the same?


Melissa Lambert I thought it was excellent and informative reading, but it seemed to me to be very pro-Israel. I'l recommend it, though.


Irving Koppel
I think it was a very balanced view of the contrasting
cultures,Israeli and Palestinian. It gave me a great
deal of insight into the Arab mentality while still
presenting an excellent story. Irv Koppel


Barry Mr. Uris conveys an understanding of the Middle East and a compassion for the Palestinian people while stressing the right of the Jewish people to a place on this planet. He cannot help but be biased in favor of his group, but he considers the predicament as well the tragic situation of the Palestinians carefully. Any sensible person realizes that no one is truly unbiased; it is thus beyond human limitation to be completely neutral. Our emotional reactions preclude such a stance. Mr Uris is thus to be commended for his attempt to understand the essential problem in the Middle East and to describe it as fairly as he can, given the fact that he is a Jew who will care about the welfare of israel.


Wiley Anyone trying to understand the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, trying to understand the Palestinian (and Israeli) claims concerning the events of 1948, should read this book. Uris was an outstanding author, and this novel is entertaining as well as informative.


Lananorris The Haj is definitely biased, but the bias is based on fact. There is no need to restate history, but I feel like Uris helped the reader to understand the underpinnings of the Arab-Israeli conflict. There are two people groups, each with their back against a wall, unwilling or unable to give an inch in their struggle to survive. The Jews had nowhere else to go, so they fought for a homeland in Palestine. God knows that there is enough room there for both Arabs and Israelis to scratch out a living. There is no reason whatsoever that they could not co-exist if not for the self-serving manipulation of the the Muslim common man by their Arab/Muslim leaders. The fault lies with the power brokers who wield their religion as club against their own people, then turn and use it as a rallying cry when it suits them. Uris calls attention to the fact that the same means used to stir an uneducated and emotional populace is the same one used today.
I was shocked to see that the Arab countries at that time and since, lifted not a finger to help their Arab brothers in Palestine. The oil-rich countries of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Saudia Arabia, etc. sent no aid, and they enabled black markets to flourish on the aid sent by the US and other western nations. They shut down their borders and refused citizenship to the lower class refugees while opening welcoming arms to the wealthy, educated, and professional upper class who had the foresight and means to leave at the beginning. Yes, refugee camps were established, but can any honest and compassionate person really call those hell-holes "aid"? Uris's description of the squalor existing in those camps has been verified by countless sources. The unwillingness of Arab nations to offer assistance is a matter of record.
While Jews have traditionally taken care of their own, Arabs have continued to exist like their tribal ancestors, raiding, raping and murdering one another. The Jews were not blameless and Uris did not turn a blind eye to Jewish terrorism against Arabs and the British, but it seems that Jewish violence has been re-actionary to the hostilities of a world that hates them and has tried repeatedly to annihilate them.
Repatriation of the Palestinians is much like the subject of "reparations" to African-Americans here in the US...too little, too late. The people who would benefit from repatriation and reparation, are not, for the most part, the victims who originally suffered loss and injury. Uris demonstrates that the Jews appear to have been willing to accept several different compromise plans suggested by western nations, and have more than once shown themselves willing to work together, while the Arab nations have continually bitten the hand extended in peace, refusing anything less than life as it existed prior to WWII. This is totally unrealistic and the world would not cater to any Western nation who employed such tactics
The "plight of the Palestinians" has been used as an excuse for Arab leaders to further their own agendas in the political and economic world, while they continue to foster and fuel Hate as a way of life for their own people. Uris shows the "plight of the Palestinians" for what it is; it is indeed a plight and we should all be ashamed that it was allowed in the first place. But it is a plight of their own making.
If there is so much sympathy and concern for the people of Palestine, let the Arab nations abide by the tenets of their own religion as stated by the Prophet in the Q'uran. Let them show hospitality to the People of the Book and a desire to care for their widows and orphans. Instead of bleating on that the Western nations have used them and forced them into a subservient position, which we have in the past to our shame, let Arabic peoples take the lead in righting this terrible wrong. Instead of inciting violence and breeding hatred, let them set an example to the world of authentic Islam; correct all of the misconceptions about true Islam. In the same way that the Christian Church has been it's own worst enemy and has offended more people than it has attracted, there are those in the Muslim faith who have done all Muslim peoples a great disservice. Perhaps if they lead the way with decency and respect and genuine compassion, the world will follow.


thethousanderclub I am a huge fan of Leon Uris: http://thethousanderclub.blogspot.com....

And The Haj is one of my favorite books that he wrote. Having said that, is The Haj biased? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's still a valuable insight into the region, into the people that live there, and finally into the author who wrote about them.


Elaine Very biased but understandable; however, it was because of the bias that I didn't enjoy the book. At no point did I feel as if I had an understanding of the conflict from the Arab's point of view.


Wiley Elaine wrote: "Very biased but understandable; however, it was because of the bias that I didn't enjoy the book. At no point did I feel as if I had an understanding of the conflict from the Arab's point of view."
Start with 9/11, work backwards to the insane brutality cruelty and inhumanity of 'Der Prophet" himself. Understand that!


Elaine 9/11 was the work of extremists. The Inquisition was the work of extremists. Currently in Israel there are Jewish extremists who would prefer that women not be treated equally. I would never judge a group of millions of people based on extremists in that group. The Old Testament also has examples of cruelty and brutality. Since this is a book website may I recommend the book The Yellow Wind written by an Israeli Jew and also the author Tarek Fatah, a Moslem Canadian writer.


message 14: by Craig (last edited Apr 11, 2014 07:26AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Craig I think it was quite biased in favor of Israelis; they have their fanatics and bigots too and the ability to be hateful. They're people, not saints. If one wants a more balanced novel about the Israeli/Palestinian issue, albeit more recent in terms of time frame, I'd suggest The Little Drummer Girl by LeCarre.


Tashfin Hey Craig,
Thanks a lot for the suggestion.

I am reading 'The Haj' now. It does seem biased. But, it is also true that the wile of politics has influenced the religious flow in the Middle East over the past few decades.


Craig Tashfin wrote: "Hey Craig,
Thanks a lot for the suggestion.

I am reading 'The Haj' now. It does seem biased. But, it is also true that the wile of politics has influenced the religious flow in the Middle East ov..."


You're welcome and I apologize for the slow response. But I think when it comes to politics, there is really no one who stands on a moral high ground, including the Jews/Israelis. Their experiences in the Nazi concentration camps doesn't change that.


message 17: by Karen (last edited Jul 21, 2014 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Karen The hero of the story was an Arab boy. This boys father was close friends with a Jew. It is realistic, still a novel.


message 18: by Craig (last edited Jul 23, 2014 08:55AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Craig Karen wrote: "The hero of the story was an Arab boy. This boys father was close friends with a Jew. It is realistic, still a novel."

It's still a biased novel Karen. The author leaves no doubt who wears the white hat in this particular conflict. The description of the Jews/Israelis in comparison to the Arabs/Muslims is a no-contest match. While not inaccurate, his descriptions are very one-sided and one dimensional, focusing on the positive attributes of the Jews/Israelis and the negative attributes of the Arab/Muslims. By the end of the first chapter, there's no doubt with whom the reader is supposed to identify.


Karen Lananorris wrote: "The Haj is definitely biased, but the bias is based on fact. There is no need to restate history, but I feel like Uris helped the reader to understand the underpinnings of the Arab-Israeli conflic..."

Good post


Karen Craig wrote: "Karen wrote: "The hero of the story was an Arab boy. This boys father was close friends with a Jew. It is realistic, still a novel."

It's still a biased novel Karen. The author leaves no doubt who..."


As you say, not inaccurate.


Craig Not inaccurate at all. The Israelis treated the Arabs like vermin. One would have thought they would have learned to be more compassionate having been victimized themselves. But apparently not.


Karen Craig wrote: "Not inaccurate at all. The Israelis treated the Arabs like vermin. One would have thought they would have learned to be more compassionate having been victimized themselves. But apparently not."

I meant the novel is not inaccurate. People have hated the Jews for hundreds of years. Not much has changed, and I don't want to argue about it. Have a nice day.


message 23: by Craig (last edited Jul 23, 2014 09:44PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Craig Everyone has hated everyone since prehistoric times. Ask the Irish how much they love the English, or the Tibetans the Chinese. The Holocaust was horrible not because it happened, but because it happens all the time. When Joshua entered Canaan, he slaughtered whole cities, practicing a policy of genocide over 2,000 years before Hitler. And if you didn't want to discuss this, then you maybe you shouldn't have put your oar in the water. You have a nice day too.


Karen Craig wrote: "Everyone has hated everyone since prehistoric times. Ask the Irish how much they love the English, or the Tibetans the Chinese. The Holocaust was horrible not because it happened, but because it ha..."

I should have explained in that last post why. You and I will never come to an agreement on this issue, so we will end up talking at each other. So there is really no point to go further, I think we can agree on that much.


Craig Indeed. I will never agree that one group is above any other merely because they say so.


Donna I thought it was a good novel in pointing out the vast differences in cultural perspectives. Simply (very simply) it read as a tragedy to me.


Donna I note some uncalled aggressiveness in some posts. As a new person here on Goodreads, I am sorry to see it.


Cassidy The Haj is a semi-accurate reflection of the situation at that time in history. Uris might have been slightly biased, but didn't make all of the Arab characters bad and all of the Jewish ones good. Not at all.
It should be noted, however, that it does not reflect the increasingly complex situation in the region in the years that followed.

Most of Uris's early works focused on the trials and tribulations of the Jewish people - Exodus, QBVII, Mila 18 - all of which I recommend. He is an amazing storyteller. He was also perhaps the first writer to portray Jews and their struggles in a positive light following centuries of the portrayal of Jews in a negative and stereotypical manner (for example, Shakespeare's Shylock).

If you like Uris's style and historical fiction, I also recommend The Trinity - about the conflicts between Catholics and Protestants.


Karen Donna wrote: "I note some uncalled aggressiveness in some posts. As a new person here on Goodreads, I am sorry to see it."

Those posts were not aggressive, we were having a discussion, that's what we do here. :)


Karen Cassidy wrote: "The Haj is a semi-accurate reflection of the situation at that time in history. Uris might have been slightly biased, but didn't make all of the Arab characters bad and all of the Jewish ones good..."

I agree with you, he is a great story teller, and Exodus was wonderful also.


message 31: by Liz (new)

Liz Craig mentions that the Tibetans hate the Chinese. The Tibetans have been occupied as long as the Palestinians. There are no Tibetan intifadas, suicide bombings or teaching of hatred in Buddhist culture. Occupation does not cause violence. It is partially a reflection of culture.

That being said the vast number of Israelis and Jews yearned for peaceful coexistence until Arafat refused an offer that included East Jerusalem. The left in Israel collapsed and Israel moved to the right.

Michener was prophetic when he spoke of Wingate's philosophy on retaliation. Asch wondered what this strategy would do to Israel's moral integrity.

Huge tragedy for both people. An author is not biased if they portray the circumstances accurately.


Craig Liz wrote: "Craig mentions that the Tibetans hate the Chinese. The Tibetans have been occupied as long as the Palestinians. There are no Tibetan intifadas, suicide bombings or teaching of hatred in Buddhist cu..."

Well, it's been a while; so long that I completely forgot about this thread. But a suggestion Liz if you will take one from me in terms of reading a book that isn't so biased (and Uris' book is).

The Little Drummer Girl. Food for literary thought.


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