10 Hours on a Palestinian tour bus – a perspective

August 26, 2015 by

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First appeared on Yediot – the Online Magazine for Bnei Akiva, UK.


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When you’ve been fed one narrative your whole life, the prospect of experiencing another is both daunting and enticing at the same time. When my dad suggested that he and I spend our daddy-daughter day out on a Palestinian tour of Hebron and Ramallah, I laughed, but agreed straight away. To Full Post

500 words on Yom Ha’atzmaut – When all the questions marks turn to exclamation marks


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Cross-posted with ejewishphilanthropy

Yom Ha’atzmaut? Again? This year of all years?

Whenever I approach Yom Ha’atzmaut with a sinking feeling, I always remember the point made by Professor Yosef Klausner:

“For three hundred and sixty-four days of the year we are busy with criticism. We criticize the nation’s priorities, and the nation’s leaders. We count the many mistakes that our leaders and ministers make… But a nation must have one day in a year that is a real celebration. On that single solitary day, all the prosecutions must cease, and the harsh criticism must stop…”

Klausner wrote these words back in 1953, when the State of Israel was only 5 years old!

So what is it that we should be celebrating on this one day?

Ideally Yom Ha’atzmaut should mark one of the most significant events in Jewish history. It is an event packed with meaning for Jews throughout the world, not just in Israel.

But what is the nature of that “meaning”?

We can’t even come up with a shared narrative.

When does the Israel story begin? 1948? The Dreyfuss Trial? The destruction of the Second Temple? Abraham’s journey?

Would you say that the Holocaust should be part of our Yom Ha’atzmaut narrative? If you have an unequivocal answer to that question, I assure you that you have a friend who would answer the opposite.

At Makom we would say that the meaning of Yom Ha’atzmaut can be encapsulated not through a narrative, but through the Four Hatikvah Questions.TBAPFIOL

For the first time in two thousand years, ever since May 14th, 1948, we have been able to answer all Four Hatikvah Questions with a resounding “Yes!”

To Be? – Yes!

Peoplehood? – Yes!

Free? – Yes!

In Our Land? – Check!

In this brilliant illustration, Shay Charka marks the nine-day roller-coaster between Yom HaShoah, and Yom Ha’atzmaut. Just imagine what answers we might have reached to the Four Hatikvah Questions in 1945…

The Nine Days!

Do we now share questions about threats to our ongoing existence? Certainly. The desperate arguments will wait for one day.

Do we disagree about the ways in which our heritage, solidarity, and values are expressed? Sure. Let’s put the disagreements on temporary hold.

Are we concerned about Israel’s democratic structures and discourse?

Do we agree on the borders of our Land? On relations with the Palestinians, who say it is their Land too?

All crucial questions. We’ll talk about them on the other 364 days.

Imagine a Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration that chose to focus on these four blessings. The songs, the dances, the speeches, the parties, the performances, that celebrate the four-fold answer of “yes”.

Yom Ha’atzmaut is the day on which the Four Hatikvah Questions turn into exclamation marks.

The Nine Days


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The Nine Days!

The Nine Days!

Shay Charka perfectly illustrates the nine-day emotional roller-coaster from Holocaust Day (Yom HaShoah) thru Memorial Day (Yom HaZikaron), to Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut).

Prime Minister Netanyahu addresses Congress, March 3rd 2015


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Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech before Congress has stirred up a great deal of conversation and controversy. Several communities in the United States have decided to turn this into an educational opportunity, and have arranged a public screening with a post-speech discussion.

We were asked to create a discussion guide – here is it!

congress speech discussion guide2

  • We recommend that you provide refreshments, and that you print out the guide in full size and color (click here to download the US version – tabloid/ledger – and here for the A3 version).
  • At the end of the speech, have everyone sit round tables with no more than ten people at each table. The discussion sheets should be on the table as “place mats”.
  • We would recommend that you tell everyone to take 5 minutes to go through the questions on the place mat on their own in silence, and only afterwards share their responses with others in their group.
  • You might wish to assign a facilitator to each table, to help all voices to be heard. Please do stress that the questions do not intend to “lead” anyone anywhere! They do not expect or “draw” any particular answer – all answers are welcomed. For more, please feel free to look at this on “Provocative Facilitation”.
The Structure of 4HQ

The structuring of the questions is according to what we call 4HQ – the Four Hatikvah Questions. These are the key building blocks of a Jewish discourse about Israel – from the penultimate line of the Hatikvah National Anthem – To be a People, Free In Our Land. This ancient and universal aspiration can be divided into four essential questions that address survival (To Be), Peoplehood, democracy (Free), and questions of place and Zion (In Our Land).

We would suggest that a Jewish conversation about Israel is not complete unless it touches on all four of these essential questions. Quite often, as issues become more complex, some questions overlap – hence the central question on the place mat addresses both issues of survival and of Peoplehood.

For a 500 word summary of the 4HQ idea, please go here. For a short video explaining 4HQ in the context of Israel’s elections, go here (you might even choose to screen the video as an introduction).

Contact us to find out how you can become a 4HQ community… Makom@jafi.org

Women and Democracy in Israel and Zionist history


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We created a brief informative slideshow on the nature of Women’s involvement in the democracy of the Zionist movement, and in Israel – including comparisons with other countries, and specific details on the 2015 elections. Feel free to make use!

Click on the Slideshare icon (above right) to reach the download button.

The Video page for the Israeli Elections 2015


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Here is an ever-growing collection of videos that may be useful for you to understand or teach about Israel’s 2015 elections.

Here is our explanation for our 4HQ approach to the elections.

YouTube Preview Image

90 seconds of 90 days. This was the 90 second comedy prediction of journalist Amit Segal, 90 days before election day.

YouTube Preview Image

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4HQ Elections Slogans Game


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charka sheet small

This is an activity you can run with teens and older, about the Israeli Elections.

This can be a stand-alone, or something that you run as part of an Israel Elections “Happening”.

Click here to download the A4 version

Click here to download the Letter version

Elections 2015 – The Makom Dilemma Cards


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page1 from The Makom Dilemma CardsPages from The Makom Dilemma Cards-2
First of all, print out the cards, double-sided.


How to play:

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Part 1: Justice and Responsibility


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justice and resp To Full Post

Part 2: Shabbat


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shabbat To Full Post

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