My Promised Land – whole book structured discussion

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Bettering or Battering?

A recurring theme in Shavit’s narrative is the difference, sometimes chasm, between intentions, actions, and results. 
The Jewish community throughout the world tends to be suspicious of those who criticize Israel and Zionism. This may be because criticism can serve two opposing intentions. Sometimes criticism is a call for destruction, and sometimes criticism is a call for improvement and reconstruction. 
This book received considerable support from the Natan Fund, a Jewish organization that aims “to catalyze new conversations about Jewish life”.

Triumphs and Tragedy

The sub-title of the book is “The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel”. 
Most literary definitions of the Tragedy genre would insist on the common element of “inevitability”. A tragic understanding of an event would assume that catastrophe was unavoidable. 


Zionism appears throughout the book in many guises. Sometimes Zionism is like a character with whims and will, sometimes faceless sometimes emotional. “My Promised Land” presents Zionism as something dynamic, ever-changing, but with something constant at its heart.
We at Makom would say that the heart of Zionism is summed up in the penultimate line of Israel’s national anthem: “To be a free (Jewish) People in our land.” This line breaks down into four key values that are both simple and complex: 

To be

– to survive, and also “to be” in the sense of to relax, “just to be” 

Free –

– free to take responsibility, free to grant and restrict freedoms, free to create 

(Jewish) People

– connected to Jews globally, to Jewish civilization and culture 

In Our Land

– the home of this collective enterprise is the “Holy Land”



 “To be”


“(Jewish) People”

“In Our Land”

Throughout the world there is a marked reticence among young Jews to classify themselves as Zionists or to openly identify with the word Zionism. Ari Shavit has no such reticence.


Israel vs Diaspora

From humble beginnings, Israeli Jews now make up (or will very soon make up) the majority of Jews in the world. This is not only due to Israeli birth-rates, but also due to dropping Jewish birth-rates in the Diaspora. The only Diaspora birth-rates that are rising, are among orthodox and ultra-orthodox.
Shavit asserts that Israel is the only chance for the long-term survival of non-orthodox Jewry. Before jumping off into discussions of the viability of Diaspora Jewry, let’s look at Shavit’s positive assertion: 




Are you pleased to have read the book?
Are there people you particularly hope will read this book?
Are there people you particularly hope will not read this book?
What do you think about the fact that this book has not yet been published in Hebrew?





Finally, feel free to contact us for suggestions: and read our:

 “Provocative Facilitation” guide

“Facilitator’s guide” guide

Working with the conversation units” guide.


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