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The Stairway to Heaven by Therese…

The Stairway to Heaven (2011)

by Therese Zrihen-Dvir

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2116703,775 (3.29)1



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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
It's really a bit difficult to give an accurate review of a book of fiction based on so fraught and contentious a real-life situation. Ideally, the aesthetic goals of a story should be self-contained rather than measured against reality, but in a historical fiction adherence, to greater or lesser degree, to that reality becomes one of the aesthetic goals, and so... difficult to encapsulate.
  dnorum | May 29, 2018 |
See all the reviews in the book published by Gefen Publishing House
  Theresedvir | Dec 5, 2013 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While it took me a while to get into this book, I have to say it was well written and enlightening. I love books of historical fiction that bring the "story" of history to life. It does help to understand some of the strife of the Palestinians and Israelis, but I could not say that I enjoyed the book. ( )
  pawood17 | Sep 20, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I did read this book and have kept putting off writing a review, because I was having great difficulty in what to say. I have always been told if you could not say something nice, don't say anything at all. So I guess that is what I will do. ( )
  bgherman | May 13, 2011 |
1. This book of fiction is for me a story of strength and of hope. As an American Jew I can and do look at the Israeli- Arab conflict since even before statehood in 1948 as a continuing of the worldwide struggle for Jews to survive. Notwithstanding the book’s title, it is about human kind’s ability to pick itself up, even from the worst of tragedies, and to go on living. Naomi rushes to the hospital a young Russian immigrant Israeli soldier who had been wounded in the Palestinian’s suicide bombing of the commuter bus. We learn that this act of kindness was in character for Naomi, and that of her adult daughter Nicole who had earlier witnessed the double suicide bombing on Jan. 22, 1995 of the Beit Lid bus station. Numbed Naomi and Nicole attended the funerals and paid calls to the families of as many of the victims as they could. The book is not a naïve attempt to show this horrible side of life. Naomi attempts to learn why Palestinians would choose death over coexistence with Israelis, why a Palestinian mother would raise their son to become a “martyr,” or why Palestinian crowds would celebrate a “martyr’” deaths with cheers and distribution of sweets. Neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli in the book can make the other understand their point of view. If one needs to look at this book by this Israeli author as an attempt to present the incident from an Israeli point of view then so be it. In the ceremony to induct new officers into the Israeli Armed Forces at the fortress at Masada my feelings in the continuing struggle for Jews to exist in the world but especially in Israel can be summed up in two words heard in the ceremony ”Never Again”. ( )
1 vote Elliot1822 | May 4, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
THE STAIRCASE TO HEAVENby Therese Zrihen-Dvir Category: Literature Issue No. 160
Gefen Publishing House

Reviewed by Mike Porter.

In all the years of Israel’s struggle to remain alive, those of the 1990s must surely be among the most cruel in its history. These were the years of the suicide bombers, young people whose youth and naivety were exploited – with great success – by a leadership furthering its own agenda.

Therese Zrihen-Dvir has taken on a tough subject. Basing herself on fact, with the occasional use of fictitious names, she has struggled to throw light on one such slaughter in particular - the Beit Lid massacre in January 1995. A young terrorist at a bus station exploded bombs strapped to his body, killing the soldiers around him. A second terrorist waited for the people who came running over to help, and then detonated the explosives attached to his body. Twenty two people were killed and another 69 wounded.

The reports of the suicide bombings, with their graphic descriptions of the mass slaughter and pieces of bodies scattered everywhere, are horrifying to read.

Parts of the book have polemical paragraphs concerning various situations or interpretations – the groundwork, as it were – of biblical themes (Samson’s “suicide”) and the future of Israel and the world in the light of the many dilemmas which beset us all. These are interwoven with the story of Naomi, interaction with her family, friends, a short holiday, and the effort of leading a normal life in Israel.

Once she has laid the foundations, Zrihen-Dvir’s writing becomes fluid and interesting. The final part of the story reflects hope: something like a well-lit, clear path appears which seems to be inevitably leading to a more promising future. Despite all the horrors, life continues in the daily encounters with other people – their loves, their hopes, the new generations being born and new plans being created.

Zrihen-Dvir’s decision was not only to record the slaughter but to interview the families of the soldiers killed and to attend their commemorative services – a self-imposed task that surely reflects an inner strength. She also interviewed a Palestinian woman – in fairness it must be noted that there was only one such interview – whose world-view was like most extremists anywhere. Presumably the woman had undergone “tutelage” from a very young age and, basically, once such children are selected – and they are easy prey – they have little chance of ever leading normal lives again.

One remembers one’s own heedless, innocent and, let’s face it, unthinking childhood, and can only thank G-d that he or she didn’t fall in with the wrong company at the right time.

Despite its upbeat ending, I found the story a difficult one to read.

www http://esra-magazine.com/blog/posting...
added by Theresedvir | editEsraMagazine, Mike Porter (May 19, 2011)
Positive review
Therese Zrihen-Dvir's 'The Stairway to Heaven'

■ NOT EVERYONE can absorb dry facts, and sometimes the best way to get an important story to the public is to weave it into a work of fiction. That’s what Therese Zrihen-Dvir has done in her novel The Stairway to Heaven, which details the terrorist attack on Beit Lid Junction in January 1995. Termed the Beit Lid Massacre, the attack claimed the lives 22 soldiers. Sixty-nine others were wounded.

It was pure chance that inspired Zrihen-Dvir to write the book. She had been with her family on a visit to the north and was driving home, when her son-in-law unexpectedly swerved and asked whether she’d seen the memorial at Beit Lid. She hadn’t known that there was one. He decided that she should see it. “All of a sudden an almost perpendicular giant staircase with twenty two soldiers, each mounting a stair, could be seen emerging on the horizon. It was monumental and so real looking that it was hard to believe my own eyes,” she writes in the introduction to the book that was launched last Sunday at Gefen Publishing House in Jerusalem.
added by Theresedvir | editJerusalem Post, GREER FAY CASHMAN (Jan 27, 2011)
A positive review.

Book offers hope in midst of Middle East tragedy
The Stairway to Heaven by Therese Zrihen-Dvir, Geffen Publishing House, 2010, ISBN 978-965-229-474-6, 139 pages including afterword.
By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO – This historical work of fiction is a story of hope. Notwithstanding the book’s title, it is not about the celestial kind of hope; it is about human kind’s ability to pick itself up, even from the worst tragedies, and to go on living, perhaps to flourish.
We meet Naomi, a woman of her mid 50s, when she rushes to the hospital a young Russian immigrant Israeli soldier who had been wounded in a Palestinian’s suicide bombing of a commuter bus. The boy had traveled to Eretz Israel alone, and had no one to look after him during his recuperation. Naomi took on the responsibility, making “Eddie” part of her household.
We learn that this act of kindness was in character for Naomi, whose life—and that of her adult daughter Nicole—had been earlier transformed when they witnessed the double suicide bombing on Jan. 22, 1995 of the Beit Lid bus station—an act which took the lives of 22 Israelis and wounded hundreds of others.
Shell-shocked, Naomi and Nicole attended the funerals and paid condolence calls to the families of as many of the victims as they could. Yet even amid all this death, their lives began to stir. In transporting a victim to the hospital, Nicole meets a young Israeli medical doctor and they become dedicated to each other. It takes Naomi much longer, but she meets a wealthy engineer with whom she might find a lasting relationship.
The book is far from Pollyannaish. Naomi, the protagonist, attempts to learn why Palestinians would choose death over coexistence with Israelis, why Palestinian mothers would raise their sons to become “martyrs,” or why Palestinian crowds would celebrate these “martyrs’” deaths with cheers and distribution of sweets. She arranges a meeting with a woman whose family member was a “shahid” or martyr, but neither the Palestinian nor the Israeli can make the other understand her point of view.
At another point, when Naomi expounds her viewpoints to Palestinian construction workers employed to build a house for Nicole, to them her dreams of peaceful relationships and humanitarian cooperation sound like so much ranting.
While offering us debate, this book does not provide answers inasmuch as the questions are unanswerable. It does, however, provide excellent insight into the Israeli psyche – and provides human dimension to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World

Living with terrorism is just everyday life for Israel. "The Stairway to Heaven" is a novelization of one such attack and what goes on through everyday life in the face of such a situation. Therese Zrihen-Dvir draws on a real life event where the casualties numbered hundreds. Focusing on the reality of living with terrorism, "The Stairway to Heaven" is a fine read, recommended.
Five stars
added by Theresedvir | editMidwest Book Review, James A. Cox
Remembering Israel’s Victims of Terror
Posted by Jamie Glazov on Dec 17th, 2010 and filed under FrontPage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling, United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. His new book is Showdown With Evil. He can be reached at jamieglazov11@gmail.com.

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Therese Zrihen-Dvir, an author who was born in Morocco and has been living in Israel since 1967 (except for a five-year excursion to Canada). Her academic training is in French literature and the arts. Her published works include The Challenge, a biography of her former husband, painter Eitan Dvir; The Hand of Divine Justice, a novel; and A Quest for Life, a work of biographical fiction. She writes for the Israeli francophone websites. Her latest book is The Stairway to Heaven. Visit her website:www.therese-dvir.com.
FP: Therese Zrihen-Dvir, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Tell us what The Stairway to heaven is about and what inspired you to write it.
Zrihen-Dvir: Thank you Jamie.
After a long trip to the north of Israel with my family, as we were driving back home, my son-in-law unexpectedly turned the steering wheel of the car in the direction of Beit Lid junction. “Have you seen the memorial erected at Beit Lid?” he asked me. “No, I haven’t. I didn’t even know that there was one,” I replied.
“There certainly is, and it is very unusual,” he said, taking the road to the memorial site.
It was still bright enough to see, although twilight flooded the sky. All of a sudden, an almost perpendicular giant staircase, with twenty-two soldiers, each mounting a stair, could be seen emerging on the horizon. It was monumental, and so real-looking that it was hard to believe my own eyes. Indeed, the huge concrete edifice with its twenty-two stiffened statues brought back in full the memory of the tragedy. I walked around the monument lost in thought.
The Israeli soldiers and citizens killed in the terrorist attack were walking up a stairway that was meant to lead them to Paradise. However, by killing kuffār (“infidels” – a term used by Muslims to describe non-Muslims) and themselves, the two Palestinian terrorists, according to their faith and to the promises of the Imams, could also expect to gain a place in Heaven. Both were dead.
The year was 2003 and this monument reaching upward to empty space between the earth and the sky brought home to me the absurdity and futility of war, the senseless loss of young lives and the human bankruptcy of it all. There and then, I pledged to the twenty-two shadows my humble contribution to honor their sacrifice and their pain as well as my own.
FP: Share with us your interviews with a number of Israeli victims’ families.
Zrihen-Dvir: Somehow, at the side of the gigantic memorial monument, I felt courageous and absolutely determined to take this challenging subject and investigate it in all its aspects. But, when I was left alone and was confronted with the idea of approaching the families and reviving the terrible events that they had suffered through, my heart leaped wildly and my resolution temporarily wavered. I felt strangely ashamed and defeated by my own fears, but mostly by the pain I was going to inflict on the wounded families who were trying to return to a normal life after their disaster.
During the process of interviewing the families and writing this book, which lasted several years, my strong resolutions vacillated a few times when the pain compelled me to run away and relinquish the project for good. Deep within, the obligation to continue the writing governed me. I couldn’t stop. This was an event that should not be forgotten. Wrong conceptions should not remain as true; truth and justice should not be buried. No culture in the world should celebrate senseless death. Radical religious leaders who advocate death represent the antithesis of civilization and God’s commands.
FP: For our readers that might not know, illuminate for us a bit more what this terrorist attack was about. What happened?
Zrihen-Dvir: Immediately after the Oslo peace agreement was signed by Arafat (PLO leader) and the Israeli P.M. Yitzhak Rabin and the F.M. Simon Perez, Israel underwent a series of terror attacks. These included suicide bombers and the invasion by an army of terrorists who aimed at the complete destruction of the state of Israel.
Beit Lid junction is nearly a countryside location on the road between Netanya and Hadera. It has a small kiosk where soldiers commonly swarm inside and out at the early hours of the day, waiting for transportation to their military bases. This location is unfortunately very close to Palestinian cities, known as anthills of terrorist activity.
On January 22, 1995, on a leisurely Sunday morning, when soldiers gathered around the bus station and the kiosk, a Palestinian terrorist, disguised as an Israeli soldier, loaded with at least a ten kilogram belt bomb, coldly positioned himself as close as possible to a large group of soldiers and activated the bomb button. Then the second terrorist also disguised as an Israeli soldier, calmly waited until rescuers rushed to help the first casualties before activating his bomb. “The carnage was indescribable,” wrote Mr. Lipkin Shahak, former chief of Staff in Israel, who gave his account of this event on the cover of the book.
FP: Can you tell us a bit about what the families shared with you?
Zrihen-Dvir: Besides the pain and tears, I was confronted by a strange phenomenon: A significant fraction of the parents of the victims harbored a very unusual sense of guilt. To me, it seemed that unbeknownst to them, they were flagellating their own moral fiber – I even heard a few sentences such as: we snatched their land… we occupy their territories… what can anyone expect in these circumstances? That presumption and the countervailing standpoints of others is a clarification of the amplifying fissure existing amongst Israelis: There are those who believe in their rights to their ancestral land, and others, from the extreme political left stream, who openly believe in the so-called “occupation” and are ready to compromise to the extent of being completely swallowed up by Palestinians.
I didn’t want to trigger an argument nor elaborate on any stance, as my book isn’t meant to cover the territorial/political aspect of the conflict. It was written merely to recognize the humanitarian side of things.
Some parents described their intimate feelings for their departed children and their relationships with them. They also touched on the impact that this tragedy has had on their lives – a few didn’t even survive it. However, there were parents who, for one reason or another, reluctantly refused to be interviewed and I clearly understood their taking this stance.
Generally, a remarkable strength and determination emanated from them, regardless of the circumstances they suffered.
FP: You state that there are some “wrong conceptions” that “remain as true.” Explain what you mean and why, in your view, justice been buried.
Zrihen-Dvir: There was an underlying territorial conflict, intentionally triggered by the Arab world and their supporters, the British. But that had long since been surpassed by a useless hatred engendered by wrong conceptions and religious boundaries. Young, gullible minds were brainwashed by those who never truly cared for the welfare of their own people (Palestinians). These young Palestinian people had been blatantly used by cynical leaders whose main aims were power, money and greed. Justice has long been buried by misleading information and false evidences, tremendously supported by conniving media channels.
FP: What is the overall message you want to come through this book?
Zrihen-Dvir: This book isn’t meant to sift through the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but to display the tremendous gap existing between two mindsets: We have for instance, a Palestinian/Muslim mother who would urge her child to kill as many kufars (infidels) as possible and be killed, with the incredible promise of Heaven and 72 virgins awaiting him as a reward. On the opposite side of the coin, there is a Jewish mother who would be ready to give her life and anything else she owns in order to protect her children’s lives. Muslim religious conceptions teach and praise the love of death, while Jews spread the love of life. Freedom and Progress are differently assessed by Muslims, while Jews are openly standing for them.
From the text, involving confrontations and exchanges between Jews and Palestinians, we reach a conclusion that takes cognizance of today’s defying threats against the free world.
To me it is anyway, my modest contribution to this very odd and cherished country called Israel and to its restless fighters.
FP: Therese Zrihen-Dvir, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
added by Theresedvir | editFrontPage Magazine, Jamie Glazov
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On January 22, 1995, a leisurely Sunday morning, Israeli soldiers gathered around the Beit Lid bus station in northern Israel waiting for transport to their army bases. A Palestinian terrorist, disguised as an Israeli soldier and loaded with a twenty-pound bomb belt, coldly positioned himself as close as possible to a large group of soldiers and activated the bomb.

A second terrorist, also disguised as an Israeli soldier, calmly waited until rescuers rushed in to help the first casualties before activating his bomb as well, reaping the maximum number
of casualties. Hundreds were wounded and 22 young Israelis lost their lives.

This fictionalized account of the real-life events includes interviews with a number of the victim’s families, woven into a lyrical novel that portrays the wider effects of terrorism on the nation’s citizens, and gives insight into the strength of the human spirit to go on in the face of tragedy.

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