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Di McDougall

I have enjoyed the small exposure I have had to Jewish literature and history but would find it tough to find a way to "enjoy" Israeli literature , especially re sabras. I have educated myself as to how Israel was created and the knowledge that palestinians were removed from their homes at gunpoint, forced to leave behind all possessions , even had the jewellery removed from their persons makes it hard to view it simply as a genre. As background to your studies please read what Jewish voice for peace have on their website.

vicki (skiourophile / bibliolathas)

I think this is a fascinating topic, Danielle, and look forward to updates. The mixed nature of your class suggests that your group has the potential to be thoroughly engaging. I think if I went back to adult study (but definitely with no essay-writing or exams!) I would probably do some art history or brush up a language for (hopefully!) travel.


Hi Di--Many thanks for the comment. I am completely new to this area of reading and this concept is a new one to me as well. My instructor has said he will be offering the texts from a neutral standpoint (not making value judgements either way but offering the information and texts from a historical standpoint) and we will be reading some alternate views as well. I am probably not presenting the information in the best way I can, but I am in the learning process right now so will have to get a feel for things as I go. I completely understand and appreciate that there are always many different sides to an issue and different perspectives and that the same historical event (perceptions of--in every country's history) changes depending on which side is writing about it. Hopefully studying this in an academic setting and discussing it with a variety of people will help work through the many views to get a more balanced understanding. We will be reading other texts as well giving other perspectives. I think this idea of 'Sabra' was an ideal that didn't exactly reflect reality--but as I said I am just beginning and have a lot to work out still. I will certainly look for the website you mention! Many thanks!


I think it will be fascinating, too, and as it is quite a 'hot' topic of which I am not at all studied, this will be a good starting point to build from. I do hope it doesn't become controversial--since I am such a newcomer to it and may make missteps in my writing about it--will be a test too on how balanced I can be, I think. There are a variety of age groups and a mixture of men and women younger and older so hopefully there will be a good lively discussion. Of course one of the big draws for me is that the instructor is himself a published author and no doubt can shed light on the region in ways others who have not or don't live there can. I will try and take a course a semester and would love to take some art classes, too. I am not sure I can audit language classes but they are in the back of my mind as well (am only limited by the times the classes are offered and whether I can make them fit into my schedule!).

Di McDougall

thanks for your thoughtful response...I do so hope you find the neutrality and balance in the work represented. I would be heartened if you did ( and surprised) In this discourse there has been such a sense of withholding reasoning judgement. Good v evil....propounded with religious fervour. I am a white South African and since the 80's I was fully on the side of the struggle ( as we called it) We also had so called "militants" ...your terrorist is my freedom fighter. But in our case..thankfully the world DID choose to judge...and faithfully and strongly supported those who were oppressed. There is such a deep fear of being held to be anti semitic when one is simply anti is why I align myself with the Jewish voice for peace


Such a fascinating topic to study and audit, Danielle!
I'm familiar with Amoz Oz's work.
The founding of the state of Israel is really fascinating and the original leaders of Israel, Ben Gurion etc were thoughtful and rather secular. Olivia Manning wrote about Palestine under the British mandate. (The School for Love)
Linda Grant's When I Lived in Modern Times is fascinating about the strife post WW2 - at the beginning of the State of Israel.
Yes, you should look at JVP - Jewish Voice for Peace's website. I am not Jewish but like their thinking - no more settlements etc.
So many opinions, so much propaganda on both much suffering...anyway - much food for thought.
If you are a glutton for a big reading list Kai Bird's Crossing Mandelbaum Gate published about 6 years ago is a terrific overview of politics and life in the middle east.


I am so glad you got into the class and that it looks like it will be so good! And a small group too! Fun! I've always wondered if it would be fun to audit a lit class even though that's what my degree is in. It would probably be a whole different experience not having to worry about papers and exams. I look forward to hearing all about your class as it progresses!


Hi Di--To be honest I decided to take the class solely from the standpoint of loving literature and not knowing much about Jewish/Israeli Lit but being intrigued by the texts chosen. I don't know enough about this part of the world and thought this might be an interesting way to begin learning and informing myself. Hopefully the discourse will be lively--I suspect it will be. I am certainly very curious about seeing all the different sides of the issue, but I think the focus will be very strongly the literary focus and on the texts--no doubt you can't have one without knowing about the situation in that part of the world as well. In any case, it should be a very good class. And I hope to discover a variety of new to me authors and books.


Hi Elizabeth--I think it is a fascinating topic as well and am very excited about the class--learning about these authors and reading the literature and hearing the instructor's lectures. It seems such a good opportunity. I am looking forward to reading Amos Oz--I have long known the name but didn't realize the significance of his work. Thanks for all the great suggestions--Kair Bird's book is an absolute steal right now on Amazon so I admit I had to order it. I had thought about Linda Grant's book but it slipped my mind and now I will have to go in search of it--hopefully it is close at hand. I have Olivia Manning's longer works--the two trilogies which I keep meaning to read--maybe now is the time and so will look for School of Love. I'm not Jewish either and have not ever really studied the religion or the literature in any way, so this will be an interesting beginning. I think there really is a lot of propaganda and it is hard to know what to think--but I am not taking the class with any agenda in mind--just want to keep an open mind. Hopefully good literature (and I am happy to read widely and from a variety of good sources)will be a way into learning more about that part of the world. Any other reading suggestions you have I am happy to jot down, too! :)


I'm so excited--I forgot how much fun and mentally stimulating taking a class can be. Why did I wait so long? Of course I am especially excited since I don't have to write papers and can just read and learn and enjoy. I will let you know how it goes--my degree is in Art History, but I am thinking of taking some art history classes as well later!

Liz F

Israeli literature would be a new one for me too so I look forward to seeing what you think about the class and your studies.
I have read quite a lot of Jewish literature over the years but it has mostly been either European or American and not really touched on the Israeli experience and I must admit that I am slightly wary of it: my own background is Anglo-Irish which has its own range of pitfalls and problems caused by extreme attitudes which sadly show no sign of softening.
Thank you to Di for bringing the Jewish Voice for Peace website to my attention - we tend to only hear the more militant voices from the Israeli point of view here so it will be good to see the other side.
Good luck with your studies!


This sounds like it's going to be a very interesting course, danielle. I am looking forward to read more about it and to learn more about the/which authors you are going to read.


How exciting! This is a great perk of your job, I'm really jealous (mine goes with discount on electrical sockets... for what it's worth). I don't know anything about this aspect of Israeli literature, the little I've read all dealt with European past and the impact of Shoah (recently a graphic novel by Rutu Modan). Also I have read a number of crime novels by Batya Gur, which opened a window on everyday life there but not so much on war. I'm really looking forward to reading your discoveries.


How very interesting and mind-broadening. It sounds like an ideal situation to learn in. I look forward with anticipation to hearing more about your readings and class discussions. I've never read any Israeli literature (that I can remember), though I did travel to Israel and work on an archaeological dig there when I was a college student. You'll appreciate this: one of our favorite outings into Jerusalem was to a tiny used bookstore. We often spent afternoons reading after getting up early and working in the hot sun.


This is something entirely new to me as well. I hadn't even given any of it much thought when I decided to take the class other than knowing the titles appealed. It will be quite interesting and perhaps too eye opening. It will be especially interesting to hear about the books from a perspective of someone who lives there, was born and raised there. I am sure I will write about it all from time to time and share my reading!


My first reading is a play by Moshe Shamir called He Walked Through the Fields. First we are reading the play and then will watch the film adaptation the following week. I have read the introduction and the scene setting but have saved the actual play for tomorrow (holiday and day off from work) to read the play itself so I can do it in one sitting. What an idea--I have reading homework!:)


It's such a great opportunity. Why have I not been taking classes all along?! (Actually I could use some socket work in my house...maybe not such a bad perk after all for you). I will look that graphic novel up--too bad we do not have a graphic novel on our list--short stories, a play, and extracts from other books and novels. I had thought of looking for a crime novel--so now I have a name and will look Gur up--thanks! I will share as I go and hope to make some interesting discoveries!


I am indeed fortunate and am happy to have been presented with the opportunity. How very cool that you traveled there. There are three students who went on a trip there with the university just this past spring and talked about it a bit and they all loved it. I would love to visit the country, too, and how cool that you still vividly remember that bookstore. I wonder if it is still there?


Coincidentally, I just found a bookmark from the little bookstore in Jerusalem and I looked it up online. It's still there, though it's on a different street now!


What a coincidence. I'm in the mood to read more Israeli and Jewish literature. I haven't read many writers from Israel but those I read were interesting. Your course sounds great.


You'll have to let me know what you read. I am really loving my class--all so very very fascinating. We have started with a play by Moshe Shamir who is famous in Israel for his portrayal of life during the War for Independence. Next week we are going to watch the film that was adapted from the play (which started as a novel...) He Walked Through the Fields is the name. Then we will be reading Amos Oz (who I think you have read?) and S. Yizhar. I'll have to post my progress!


How cool! Maybe someday you'll get to go back and visit again?! I think I would love to go there someday--though not right now I think....

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