My Promised Land by Ari Shavit – a reader’s guide

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New York Times columnist Tom Friedman suggested that Obama and Netanyahu should read it: the book “is a real contribution to changing the conversation about Israel and building a healthier relationship with it.”  “On an issue so prone to polemic,” Oren Kessler writes in the Wall Street Journal, “Mr. Shavit offers candor.” And it “will be required reading for both the left and the right,” writes Jerome Chanes in The Jewish Week. 

Here we present a discussion guide, commissioned by the Natan Book Award. You will find two kinds of guides for a discussion about the whole book, instructions and guidance for the facilitator, and eight conversation units for more in-depth exploration of this deep and challenging book.

 

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For free download and printout:

  1. Facilitator’s guide
  2. Whole book discussion guide – structured approach
  3. Working with Conversation units
  4. Provocative Facilitation
  5. Conversation One
  6. Conversation Two
  7. Conversation Three
  8. Conversation Four
  9. Conversation Five
  10. Conversation Six
  11. Conversation Seven
  12. Conversation Eight
  13. The Whole Lot in One Big Document!
  14. The Whole Lot in One Big Document for b/w printing!

Seventh Conversation Chapter Eleven: J’accuse 1999

 

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Precis

ארי7This chapter deals with the rise of the Oriental Jews (Mizrachim) in a process that began in the early 1970’s but rose to its zenith in the 90’s and the first years of the new millennium.  Most chapters in this book do not have one star figure, but in this chapter, there is no mistaking the star, Aryeh Deri, the founder and old-new leader of the Shas party, the traditional/Charedi Mizrachi  political party that first appeared in 1984 winning four seats in the Knesset, a number that had grown to 17 seats (450,000 votes) by 1999.

Shas was the first major Mizrachi political party.  It rode on a ticket of ethnic Mizrachi pride and traditional religious observance – everything that pre and early state Zionism was not. Deri, whose meteoric rise to power electrified the society as a whole, was later jailed for corruption.  Shavit’s story and interview with Deri tries to understand what that rise and fall represented to the community of non-Ashkenazi Jews in Israel. To Full Post

Eighth Conversation Chapter Thirteen: Up The Galilee 2003

 

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Precis

In this chapter Shavit encounters the voices of the Arabs of the State of Israel. The central speaker here is attorney and activist Mohammad Dahla. Shavit and Dahla co-chaired the Association of Civil Rights in Israel in the mid-1990s. As Dahla shares his outlook in detail through this chapter, the gulf between these two friends on the legitimacy of Zionism and the viability of the continuing Jewish State becomes apparent.

ארי1Dahl makes a number of very clear points. He questions – and ultimately denies – any Jewish claims to historic continuity within the land.  Zionism is thus reduced to an invading colonial force which has come from the outside and imposed itself on the Arabs of Palestine. As a majority in the land, Zionism has imposed an alien regime.  It forgets that it is actually a minority in a larger Arab and Moslem world, a world growing stronger and larger all the time. Ultimately, he says, Zionism will have to change and will have to learn to share the land, relinquishing sole sovereignty for its Jewish inhabitants and working out a genuine power sharing arrangement with the Arab inhabitants.  To Full Post

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