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Getting Even
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Nonfiction; Autobiographies; Books-titles -- Revenge: A Story of Hope
Author: Reviewed by Samuel G. Freedman
Date: Mar 31, 2002
Start Page: T.03
Section: BOOK WORLD

The essence of the book concerns Blumenfeld's pursuit of [Omar Khatib], and it makes for fascinating reading in some unexpected ways. Once Blumenfeld finds the assailant's name in Israeli court records, she sets about locating his extended family, which lives in the village of Kalandia, perhaps a dozen miles from her apartment in Jerusalem. She travels there one blistering afternoon in July 1998 to ask Khatib's relatives about the crime.

Then, and for nearly a year afterward, Blumenfeld presents herself simply as [Laura Blumenfeld], or by her married surname, Weiss. Whether interviewing the Khatib family in person or, later, carrying on a surreptitious correspondence with Omar Khatib himself as he serves a 13-year sentence, Blumenfeld pretends to function purely as a journalist interested in hearing about the shooting, and by extension about the Palestinian experience under Israeli occupation. Throughout these encounters, the pages of Revenge virtually quiver with the tension of whether Blumenfeld will be unmasked. It will not surprise me if some scold like Janet Malcolm cites Blumenfeld's deception as one more bill of indictment against journalism itself. But that would entirely miss the point. Unlike Joe McGinniss sweet- talking the accused murderer Jeffrey McDonald, or Malcolm herself winning the trust of psychoanalyst Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson the better to defenestrate him, Blumenfeld always acknowledges her duplicity and her moral discomfort with it. Besides, more than anything, she is playing Cyrano de Bergerac to Khatib's Roxanne, speaking through an artifice because her actual self, a Jew who is the victim's daughter, would never receive a fair hearing.

These interplays plumb the hatred and rationalization that underlined the attempted murder. In their first meeting with Blumenfeld, the Khatib family members offer her orange soda and recall the shooting victim as "some Jew" who was probably "a Mossad agent." Omar Khatib's older brother Saed tells Blumenfeld, "We were all with him politically. We all thought it was worth it -- his duty to get back all the cities taken by the Jews."

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