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The Others

Several new books for children and young adults ask us to see the world through Palestinian kids’ eyes

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An image from How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden. (Courtesy DC Comics)

A handful of books published this year encourage young readers to see both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Despite the tsimmis last time I looked at a children’s book on the topic, let’s dive in again.

First up: Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah, a young Australian author of Palestinian-Egyptian heritage. (Full disclosure: Tablet Magazine’s Liel Leibovitz helped fact-check the book, which his wife, an executive editor at Scholastic, published. I didn’t know this when I ordered it.) It’s the story of 13-year-old Haayat, growing up in Bethlehem in 2004—her family moved there after their farm in Beit Sahour was leveled for a new settler road. After losing his farm, her Baba changed. “The evidence of his demolition doesn’t show,” she says. “The rubble and ruins are inside him.” Haayat’s wounds are right on the surface—her face is badly scarred. Why? How? We don’t find out until late in the book.

Haayat’s beloved grandmother, Sitti Zeynab, has suffered as well. For generations, her family lived in what is now West Jerusalem; they fled from the Israeli army in the war of 1948. Refugees, they lived in exile until after 1967’s Six-Day War. Upon their return, they found a Jewish family living in their house. The Jewish woman lost everything—her mother, her father, her twin sister—in a concentration camp. “I’m sorry for what happened to your family and your people,” Sitti Zeynab told her. “But why must we be punished?“ The woman’s husband replied, “Go to Egypt or Jordan or Syria. You have many countries from which to choose.” Haayat’s uncle cried, “But this is our homeland! Would you ask an Englishman to move to America or Australia because they speak English in those countries too? Palestine is our home, not Egypt or Syria!”

Where the Streets Had a Name

When Sitti Zeynab takes ill, Haayat is determined to save her by letting her touch the earth of her village once more. So, Haayat and her best pal, Samy, a soccer-loving Christian hooligan who has emotional scars of his own, take an empty hummus jar on a Quixotic quest: to get some Jerusalem dirt. Jerusalem is only six miles from Bethlehem, but it might as well be a world away. What follows is a picaresque adventure of checkpoints and curfews, of buses, taxis, hiking, and wall-climbing. Our young heroes meet a variety of types—Jewish, Muslim, and Christian—and learn more about the fractured land they inhabit.

The book has a lot of humor (farts abound, which will delight the target audience—and, OK, me too) to leaven the upsetting stuff. And not all Israelis are depicted as evil. But too many of the book’s characters are merely sketches, and Haayat’s voice is wildly inconsistent. Sometimes it’s over-the-top lyrical, as when she’s describing the beauty of the land and its people. Sometimes it’s so literal and unimaginative, she seems like a dimwit. When Sitti Zeynab compares her sense of loss to “heartburn after a big meal,” which “burns inside and nothing you do takes the sensation away,” Haayat suggests drinking a glass of milk. This is the same kid who describes “the ubiquitous Wall, twisting and turning, devouring the landscape”? For some reason, florid, self-conscious prose seems to afflict many books about growing up in the West Bank. Abdel-Fattah’s earlier young-adult novel, about a girl in suburban Melbourne, Australia, who suddenly chooses to wear hijab to high school, has no such problem. (It also has the awesome title Does My Head Look Big in This?)

Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Cam

If Where the Streets Had a Name is a good choice for a middle-grade-to-young-adult audience (and it is), Sharing Our Homeland: Palestinian and Jewish Children at Summer Peace Camp is a good one for younger kids. It’s an extended photo essay (the pictures are by Cindy Karp; the words are by Trish Marx) about a summer camp for Israeli Jewish and Israeli Palestinian kids. Givat Haviva, an Israeli nonprofit peace organization, runs the two-week camp. Every summer 200 kids come together to learn about each other’s culture, practice respectful dialogue, and do the fun stuff of camp—crafts, swimming, sports, and song. Like Where the Streets Had a Name, Sharing Our Homeland doesn’t offer any easy answers, just reflections on the importance of trying to see the Other as a fellow human being.

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less

For older teenage and younger 20-something readers, there’s How To Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less, cartoonist Sarah Glidden’s graphic memoir of a Birthright Israel tour. Glidden approaches the all-expenses-paid trip with the attitude of a somewhat entitled young lefty American—she cynically expects a nonstop barrage of pro-Israel propaganda. She’s surprised to find that Birthright offers her a nuanced portrait of a complicated country. She meets people on the left and on the right; she also works hard to learn the region’s history. Glidden is as tough on herself as she is on anyone else—she makes a snotty remark about pushy Russians to an Israeli who turns out to be a recent Russian immigrant; she realizes she’s misjudged some of her tripmates. She’s clear-eyed about her own neuroses and moral failings, and she’s a very thoughtful and endearing—and often funny—tour guide. The panels of the book are awash in pretty watercolors. I even learned something new about the Masada story! (I didn’t know the role of Shmarya Guttman, a young Zionist who in 1933 figured out how to market the destination to the Jewish National Committee as part of a stirring identity narrative.) Glidden doesn’t come to any sweeping conclusions about the tense reality in Israel, referred to as the Matsav (sense a theme here?), but she stops being so quick to judge Israel and find it wanting.

What all three books have in common is the insistence that we not lump an entire people into one undifferentiated mass we label the Enemy. This may seem like a naïve answer to a complex set of questions. But the ability to empathize goes a long way. “Although the fundamental political issues can only be resolved by the parties to the conflict, widespread efforts to promote pluralism and tolerance will begin to lay the groundwork for a future generation that can come to the negotiating table with open hands instead of clenched fists,” the author Robert A. Friedman recently wrote in Foreign Policy Digest. “Groups such as Seeds of Peace, which empowers young leaders from regions of conflict with the leadership skills required to advance reconciliation and coexistence, are needed more than ever. When mutual trust and respect are established at an early age, these bonds can last a lifetime.”

Too bad so few adults have gotten the memo. Queen Rania of Jordan (whose parents were from the West Bank) recently co-authored a picture book called The Sandwich Swap, about two little girls who fight over the perceived yuckiness of their respective lunches (hummus vs. PBJ). The book preaches multiculturalism and open-mindedness and was launched with a reading at the United Nations. But the queen has turned down several offers to publish a Hebrew version. She might have taken a page from Sitti Zeynab: “Nobody has realized that laughter sounds the same,” she tells Haayat, “whether it shakes its way out of an Israeli or a Palestinian.”

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Hmm. Interesting. Did they mention other things that parade before the eyes of Palestinian children, like a mouse that eats Jews. Here a “cute” link. And like these “education” shows there are many other played on Official Palestinian TV. (You might have to cut and past it);

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pFz8DwvJP6Q

A

Thanks for this, Marjorie. Your readers might also be interested in knowing that the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education recently approved a textbook that teaches both the Israeli and Palestinian narratives of the conflict. The Israeli Ministry of Education banned the same book, even forbidding a history teacher in Sderot from using it to teach his gifted students.

Also, David Grossman’s most recently novel, To the End of the Land, is available in Arabic at bookshops in Ramallah – alongside the translated works of many other prominent Israeli authors. In Israel, the Ministry of Education refuses to allow the poetry of Mahmoud Darwish to be included in the high school curriculum.

The previous commenter linked to a clip from Hamas television. It is pretty stupid and disgusting. Lucky thing it is not broadcast anywhere outside Hamas-controlled Gaza – not even in the West Bank.

Might I mention REAL TIME – a multi-character Palestinian,Israeli, American) view of the conflict. (Natl Jewish Book Award, Sydney Taylor Award, German and French translations.)

Gaynor Sorrell says:

Lisa – Neither side has authorized use of the book, “Learning the Historical Narrative of the Other.” Two schools near Jericho had started using the text, assuming it was authorized, but were ordered to stop. A pity.

Lisa. Please learn the facts before you open your mouth.

See below the link to the Ma’an News Agency, which specifically states that the PA Ministry of Education did not approve a textbook that teaches the Israeli narrative. Ha’aretz, who reported the story initially, was wrong (shocking). Ma’an, if you don’t know claims to be “the main source of independent news from Palestine [and] the first choice for online information for many Palestinians.”

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=323091

As to your statement about the clip from Hamas television, if you don’t believe that palestinian children in the West Bank are not being taught the exact same thing, you are truly clueless.

How fascinating that Maan News is considered a reliable news source when it validates reactionary points of view.

Gee,,,how about a nice book that tells the story of Hamas, the Jini…who brings lots of gifts to the children of Netivot,,,every night.

Bullshit !

“How fascinating that Maan News is considered a reliable news source when it validates reactionary points of view.”

Oh well, I guess I’m a reactionary. The sad thing I also think it’s terrible what is inflicted on Palestinian children…by their own people. It’s true there are voices of descent but think these are the grand majority is naive and naivete in this instance is dangerous. There was a rock attack in Ofra today and not a peep over here. I guess only reactionaries care about that.

A

Hi, Pnina — as I wrote a few months ago, I thought your Real Time was a vey appealing YA novel. I didn’t mention it because this piece focused on books published in 2010.

donyel ben aharon says:

“Liel Leibovitz helped fact-check the book”… . WOW! “… they fled (West Jerusalem)from the Israeli army in the war of 1948.” … they lived in exile until 1967′s Six Day-War. Upon their return…”
(1)In 1948 the armies of 5 Arab countries plus the Palastinian irregulars attacked the new State of Israel after advising the local Arabs to temporarily evacuate so the Jews could be thrown into the sea.
(2) Jordan occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem for 19 years (until 1967 when it OPTED to attack again), drove out the Jews that weren’t killed, denied Jews access to the Wall, and re-named itself the Kingdom of TransJordan (Across the Jordan). Who kept them in exile for 19 years? Liel Leiovitz is either incompetent, biased, or both.

FreeThinker says:

The first book is absurd propaganda. When one group of people (Arab Palestinians) tries to commit genocide against another (Jews) some people will be forced to move a few dozen kilometers in one direction or the other. The fact that not every Arab wanted to slaughter the Jews is not important – the Arab leadership in Palestine openly collaborated with the Nazi regime throughout WWII. They should consider themselves lucky that they were not firebombed indiscriminately (see Dresden). The level of hysterics is truly absurd. If you looks at the actual distances involved it really becomes comical. “My homeland is Brooklyn, I can’t live in the Bronx”. When you try to slaughter all the Jews and lose, don’t moan about moving 30 kilometers.

Michael says:

I’ll get excited when there are Palestinian books about the suffering of Jews who loose family members to suicide bomber

KJ Dell'Antonia says:

I love the look of that graphic novel, and how it takes an outsider point of view on the whole thing. I imagine there are plenty of young teens who really don’t know what to make of Israel, or the conflict, who might feel strengthened to see that they’re not alone in not finding the question black and white. Me, I’m glad there are authors willing to take on the challenge of putting any of this into a kids’ book.

There may not be Palestinian books that attempt any form of looking at things from the Israeli or Jewish side, but that’s not an argument against books that try to look at a larger picture.

Thanks for an introduction of some interesting sounding books to check out. Don’t forget about Naomi Shihab Nye’s lovely picture book, Sitti’s Secrets, published several years ago but still moving, and subtle.

margaret says:

Thank you for a balanced and insightful perspective. I really appreciate your observations, especially when compared to the hysteria and bombast of some of the comments. Hostility and aggression will never result in the resolution of conflict, we need to work towards mutual respect. Reviewing the books that address disparate opinions help inform the public and lay a foundation of tolerance.

Thanks Michael. I will also be excited when someone teaches the Jewish
suffering from the suicide bombers and the rockets. All the Palestinian
children learn is that we are to be wiped out.

“Thank you for a balanced and insightful perspective. I really appreciate your observations, especially when compared to the hysteria and bombast of some of the comments.”

My comments are a reflection of what is REALLY HAPPENING and not a product of hysteria. Or do you think that they are only imagining the rockets, the anti-israel children’s shows, rock attacks and the like in Israel? In any case it is naive to think those that hate the Jewish nation will be appeased with an op-ed. It never worked before and there is no reason it will work now. Also as mentioned the ample platform we afford these kind of stories are never reciprocated.

A

A review of Sharing Our Homeland by Marx and Karp was published in the Sept/Oct 2010 issue of the Newsletter of the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL). It’s posted on the Jewish Valuesfinder Facebook page. A review of Where the Streets Had a Name by Abdel-Fattah will be published in the Nov/Dec 2010 issue of the AJL Newsletter.

Dorothy Wachsstock says:

jews will never learn but only help in the Propaganda against them. Israelis may want peace but the polls show that the Palestinians want no Israel there at all.

Tablet had become a way for the side of the Palestinians and recently values that we jews are proud of are disappearing in this small way of Jewish life.

If it continues..we will soon unsubscribe..propaganda is available at the State Dept with Hillary and Pres. Obama and the media which we Jews are supposed to own.

Ashamed of all you Jewish anti-Jews and anti-Israelis. We always seem to bring out that we have crooks if one discusses another ethnic of crooks..to not seem racist against that ethnic.

Well, you liberals keep doing that and there will be no Israel. Israel would never have been created (as Pres. Obama and the U.N. behind closed doors are trying to find an excuse for the Jewish State to be nonexistant) if it were up to the people who wrote for the book.

Poretz says:

“The Others
Several new books for children and young adults ask us to see the world through Palestinian kids’ eyes
By Marjorie Ingall”

Hasn’t the world been force fed the “Palestinian” point of view for the last 25 years, at least?

Does Marjorie wish to completely destroy the Jewish State?

I think that she would rather see Jews oppressed adn destitute living in the Galut at the mercy of antisemites. She only feels pity for Jews when they are being kicked and beaten.

Some serious angry discussion here for a children’s book review. A lot of the comments make me wonder who the audience of the books is. I thought it was children who want to begin to understand what the conflict is about. Not the passionate adults who are posting in the comments.

My intended comment: excellent book review, it made me want to look into the titles more and see if the books would be a good fit for my family.

Poretz says:

Marjorie Ingall doesn’t care about Jews at all.

She keeps reviewing books about poor Palestinians. Jews killed by Palestian children doesn’t rate a response from her.

She is an extremist.

To introduce children to nuanced accounts of this enduringly painful situation is to advance, however slowly and haltingly, the cause of peace. Name-calling has the opposite effect.

chomsky interviews, palestinian children books — tablet is a great anti-zionist site!

Chumpsky says:

“chomsky interviews, palestinian children books — tablet is a great anti-zionist site!”

Yes, they should rename this site “The Suppository”

A

Thank you Marjorie — very nice article. I can’t wait to read How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less.

shriber says:

Pspan says:
“To introduce children to nuanced accounts of this enduringly painful situation is to advance, however slowly and haltingly, the cause of peace. Name-calling has the opposite effect.”

Jews dont’ need to be told that life is complicated nor do they need to be told to have compassion for their enemies.

Where are the books showing the points of view of Israeli Jewish children for Palestinian children and other non Jews to read? For that matter will Arab children be allowed to read anything that portrays Jews children as human beings rather than monsters to be eliminated?

Marjorie Ingall has a one track sensibility: no compassion for Jews only for their enemies.

What next a sereis of books showing the sad lives of Nazi chidren in wartime Germany?

Daniel says:

Marjorie

You say that “a handful of books published this year encourage young readers to see both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Does the first book actually show both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? From your description, it sounds like it encourages readers to see the Palestinian’s as suffering at the hands of the Jews, and the Jews justifying it as a response to Nazism. It does not seem to encourage readers to understand how from the Israeli side, its much more significant that the Arabs launched the ’48 war, kicked hundreds of thousands of Jews out of their lands after ’48, and established a concerted policy of “no negotiation, no peace” for many years thereafter.

Is that shown in the book, or do you feel that is not relevant to understanding the Israeli side of the conflict?

Thank you.

Lisa Silverman says:

Marjorie,
Please make sure that what you wrote about Queen Rania is correct. You link to the Ha-aretz article, but it was basically retracted the following day from the same Ha-Aretz newspaper–I believe it is important not to malign her as she says the report was false.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/international/jordan-queen-rania-never-got-offer-to-publish-hebrew-translation-of-her-book-say-official-sources-1.302169

On another note, there is a second controversial 2010 book about the conflict titled “The Book of Trees” by Leanne Lieberman, a Canadian author. The book is published by Orca Publishers. This time an Orthodox Jewish girl goes to study in a Yeshiva in Jerusalem and eventually turns to support the Palestinian viewpoint.

We will be reviewing this book and also “Where the Streets Had a Name” in the February issue of Jewish Book World Magazine.

Ezekiel says:

while you’re at it also check out the cute TV character of Farfur.

Ezekiel says:

Some people need a reminder that the separation wall was erected to protect from suicide bombers. Maybe it’s time to stop and contemplate the specter of suicide bomber once again. A daily occurrence in the Arab and Muslim world. Also, as someone already mentioned, we are treated to a new lie that is being propagated off late: the idea that Palestinian suffering is “punishment” for the horrors of the holocaust – only inflicted on the wrong people, the poor Palestinians. This is a lie. The Palestinian suffering are a direct cause of their awful, often murderous choices. Enough of this innocence BS. Read a damn history book.
Finally. It is so much easier for Arab intellectual to direct their criticism against the Jews. After all, the real evil of Jihad is contemptuous to this kind of criticism, and is also dangerous to its critics. On the Jewish side, however, there’s always a class of people ready to accept guilt on behalf of their people. See above article as an example of that.
Finally, I join those who are beginning to suspect the orientation of this fine publication. For a while there, Tablet seemed like a really smart Jewish read. But recently it’s becoming just another let’s-bash-Israel site. There are too many of those already.

This is what the world looks like through Palestinian eyes. Who is the other here?

“Israeli Student Attacked By Palestinians In Italy”

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3984097,00.html

“Student in Italian university threatened by Palestinian students, one of whom was armed. Police fail to apprehend suspects. Israeli: They shouted ‘slaughter the Jews’”

By Menachem Gantz

An Israeli student at the University of Genoa in Italy was harassed and threatened by Palestinian students last Tuesday, only to be ignored by the police.

Assaf, a 26-year-old Israeli architecture student, was eating at the cafeteria when Ibrahim Haji, a student from Gaza, came and began taunting him.

“He came towards me, punched me and said ‘why are you looking at me?’ I told him I wasn’t looking at him, and asked him to let me eat in peace,” Assaf said. “A minute later he was back, swinging a fork, and called me in front of everyone to come outside while cursing Israel and declaring his intention to kill.

I understood that I have to avoid this dangerous situation. I told my Italian friends, who were eating with me, that I’m going back to my room so as not to respond to this provocation. On my way out I turned to the cashier and told her, ‘Call the police. You heard the man threatening to kill,’ and she responded, ‘It’s not my job to separate Jews and Arabs.’”

‘I saw death in front of my eyes’

Assaf’s attempt to distance himself from the fight failed. Ibrahim waited for him outside and went for the attack. As Assaf tried to defend himself, Italian passersby stepped in to intervene and held him back. Ibrahim took the opportunity to draw a large kitchen knife. The Italian students tried to stop him.

“I saw death in front of my eyes. I broke free and ran into the storage in the kitchen and locked myself in. After a few minutes more Muslim students arrived and began shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) and ‘Itbach el Yahud’ (slaughter the Jews). Later

Yisrael says:

It always cracks me up when progressives get all excited about competing “narratives” and telling “both sides” of a story. Objective truth is neither attainable nor desirable in the progressive imagination, especially in matters relating to the Arab-Israeli issue.

Shalom Freedman says:

To repeat and countenance the distortions and errors which are the normative Palestinian narrative of the conflict shows how far off- base this site and this reviewer have come. To simply repeat these claims without putting them into historical context and without any sense of what actually happened in 1948 and in fact is happening now in regard to halting terrorism, is simply wrongheaded and unfair.
Don’t the Palestinians have enough supporters telling their ‘narrative’ for them?
Or is this Tablet’s idea of what real Jewish ‘culture’ is about?

Zionist says:

Marjorie Ingall and Lisa Goldman should watch this video carefully:
http://tinyurl.com/34w2rvq

Amy Iberg says:

As to “Streets Have a Name,” one interesting point that you notice when visiting Arab towns is that most streets are constructed informally and often have no names after decades.

Of course, major streets have names, and the government sometimes tries to institute names, but this is a major distinguishing feature of Arab towns.

Daniel says:

Ingall, the Palestinian other is a murderer who wants to kill Jews.

Why in your book Jews can’t be the other? Why are we always in the defensive?

Wow, the utterly polarized (dare I say foaming-at the mouth?) comments in response to a post about children’s books just show how necessary these books are! Let’s hope that the upcoming generation is not as blinkered as the rest of us. Though I have my doubts.

Keep it up, Marjorie.

Shriber says:

Gayle children grow up to be man, and in any case we are talking about children who are exposed to a daily diet of Jewhatred not that different from Nazi propaganda.

The real other in this world are the Jews. If you can’t see that it’s because you are either afraid to face the truth or because of some other cognitive incapacity.

“Child suicide attacks ‘must stop’”

“Amer al-Fahr’s mother said he was too young to attack Israel
An international human rights group has called on Palestinian militants to stop using children in suicide bombings and military attacks.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3979887.stm

How about writing stories about real Palestinian children.

Shriber says:

Is Gayle someone who would sponsor suicide bombers against Israeli children?

Thanks for the insightful, compassionate review of these books, Marjorie. I look forward to reading “How to Understand Israel” in particular.
The discussion here makes me very sad. It just shows that “so few adults have gotten the memo,” indeed. I feel the need to repeat a few key lines from the article:
“(The books don’t) offer any easy answers, just reflections on the importance of trying to see the Other as a fellow human being.”
“What all three books have in common is the insistence that we not lump an entire people into one undifferentiated mass we label the Enemy.”
And most importantly:
“…the ability to empathize goes a long way.”
I wish all your readers would take these wise words to heart. Keep up the good work.

Lizzie says:

Thanks for telling readers about these books even if some here can’t see their value.

Betsy S says:

Thank you for this thoughtful review. I do believe that the road to peace lies with both sides learning to understand and empathize with each other’s pain and both sides taking responsibility for past wrongs. Even if those wrongs are not equal, we will not come to peace through blame and hate.

I have two movies to recommend, to the commentators and readers. The first is called Promises, a documentary. Filmakers Justine Shapiro and B.Z. Goldberg introduce us to a dozen children, ages 11-13, growing up on all sides of the conflict “http://www.promisesproject.org/ I found it extraordinarily moving, to hear their thoughts on the cusp of young adulthood, to get to know them a little bit as individuals.

The other film is Encounter Point, the true story of a group of ordinary Israeli and Palestinian individuals, all of whom have lost loved ones in the Conflict, who are working together towards peace. These are people who have no illusions about the horrors that have been committed, no naive ideas about quick fixes, but who are determined to start the process . http://www.justvision.org/encounterpoint

Chumpsky says:

” I do believe that the road to peace lies with both sides learning to understand and empathize with each other’s pain and both sides taking responsibility for past wrongs.”

This cooperation works between individuals when they are liked minded, but to state this about both sides as a group or community your run into problems when individual members of said community are dangerous. If you want to sympathize with an individual good gezunt, however to translate this to the whole of a society who harbors individuals which are very dangerous sets the stage for tragedy.

Eric Hadze says:

Marjorie

Some people here may not see the value, but if more people were doing what you are doing, on both the Jewish and Palestinian side, then we can actually achieve something which all the naysayers here haven’t been able to for the past six decades.

Thank you. My children will definitely be reading these books.

Chumpsky says:

“Some people here may not see the value, but if more people were doing what you are doing, on both the Jewish and Palestinian side, then we can actually achieve something which all the naysayers here haven’t been able to for the past six decades.”

The problem of antisemitism isn’t a problem spanning the past 6 decades but, much, much longer. This hatred for Jew has an old and illustrious pedigree. Reading children’s books that empathize only with one side tacitly delegitimizes the other. A very subtle and effective way of subconsciously subverting young minds.

My children will not be reading these books until they have read some about the founding of the state of Israel in all it details (yes, including the politically incorrect ones.) I want my children to have a strong esteem for themselves and their land first and foremost and a realistic perspective of what is going on.

Eric Hadze says:

I guess that would make me a self-hating Jew. Go your way then. It’s leads nowhere. Your anti-Palestinian hatred is no different than anti-Semitic hatred.

Chumpsky says:

“I guess that would make me a self-hating Jew.”

You said this not me! And for the record I care for all Israel that is why it scares me to find such unrealistic expectation given the history of our nation. True there are individuals in Arab societies that are sympathetic but as a whole they have always demonstrated a willingness to do violence be it physical and financial (as in the expropriation and expulsion of Jews from many Islamic countries in 1948). If you want to sympathize with individual that is fine but to say the whole society can be changed is not very realistic unless they are also reading our side of the story to their children. Quite honestly I wouldn’t read a book to my child that casts him and the people he belongs to in a bad light (to put it mildly.) this is not something I would think is good for his emotional health.

“Go your way then. It’s leads nowhere. Your anti-Palestinian hatred is no different than anti-Semitic hatred.”

I do not have hatred to Palestinians. I am wary, very wary of them as a society. There were 3 mortars just yesterday. As far as clumping me with anti-semitic haters I will say for myself that I would never participate or condone suicide bombing for myself and much less my children.

Eric Hadze says:

we all want the same thing, but achieving it is not going to happen with one sided views only. that goes for both sides. Good example: I know you wouldn’t condone suicide bombing, just as we shouldn’t condone collective punishment. simple. it’s a cycle. The end result for both actions is the same. more killing and hatred on both sides. you’re seeing only suicide bombing as something not to condone, completely ignoring the atrocities we commit? both sides have to commit to end the cycle. either one side alone will never ever work. baby steps to change the mindset of both sides. this is what this effort is about.

Chumpsky says:

“baby steps to change the mindset of both sides. this is what this effort is about.”

I have no problem with taking baby steps but as you said both sides need to be taking them. A peace of this nature is earned when both parties shoulder the burden. If the Palestinians continue to teach their children about giant rabbits that eat Jews

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jm8w7_P8wZ0

and how non-muslims are second class citizen dhimmis (at best) they have not made they effort. They have not earned peace and they are not trying to. Their children are casualties of their own corruption. By the way the above video is not an isolated episode but a weekly program for children. Not exactly my idea education television. In any case my opinions is that these kinds of books and stories are not appropriate for children, maybe very pragmatic teenagers that already have a well adjusted self-esteem and proper moral and spiritual values.

Eric Hadze says:

I agree, those anti-Jew programs are extremely detrimental whichever way one looks at them. acknowledging wrongs is the first step. someone has to take the first step. I’d rather it be me. I’m tired. they teach their children we are second class, while we actually treat them as second class, in fact worse. by our action we are teaching our children that’s OK and right. that is not teaching them self esteem, rather sowing the seeds hatred and of the status quo. we aren’t innocent either. but it takes some character to accept that. both sides have to acknowledge. if we keep justifying our actions, they have ample and real reason to do the same, and we’re back to square one. I’m tired.

Melewen says:

“What next a sereis of books showing the sad lives of Nazi chidren in wartime Germany?”

Were they not victims too? All children in war are victims. And if a few books can teach a few children to start seeing “them” as a group of individual humans with different motivations, opinions and fears, then it’s a good start.

So many of these comments seem to say “well, they’re not teaching our point of view, so why should we teach theirs?” How is that productive?

Chumpsky says:

“they teach their children we are second class, while we actually treat them as second class, in fact worse. by our action we are teaching our children that’s OK and right. ”

Israeli arabs have it better than in any other middle east country, yes including all the arab ones. With individual Israeli arabs that are will to live with us peacefully but act peacefully. Those that are committed to our destruction are another story. We do not seek to treat them as second class unfortunately however security demands close scrutiny which is intrusive, just look at the kerfuffle with the new airport scanners and pat-downs! And just as an airport deserves security how much more so the whole state of Israel. And by the way no one is actively educating children in Israel that arabs are second class citizens in the school curriculum. It is up to the parents to instill proper values in their children.

And, yes, this is tiring me, too.

“So many of these comments seem to say “well, they’re not teaching our point of view, so why should we teach theirs?” How is that productive?”

Because unilateral actions of this kind on a large scale never give good results. This kind of thing needs to grass roots where both sides meet in small like minded groups. To Olympically tell our kids that we are terrible oppressors for not good reason doesn’t do much for mental health. They need to see the reality of the situation when their mind is mature enough to understand shades of grey. A child’s book should be horsies and Kitties not about how he belongs to a nation of murderers or tyrants.

Melewen says:

Chumpsky,

I think you misunderstood my point. How will these grassroots groups start if children aren’t encouraged to see beyond “us” versus “them”? Do any of these titles suggest that we sit down with our eight year olds and give a full history of our government’s faults? Of course not. What they suggest is that we use age-appropriate literature and remember that “them” is really not all that different from “us.” Or more simply: start with the Sneetches.

There exists no “nation of murderers and tyrants.” That kind of rhetoric makes it too easy to paint bystanders as complicit. To suggest that all Jews or Arabs are the same is as ridiculous as suggesting that all Americans or Germans are the same.

Chumpsky says:

“I think you misunderstood my point. How will these grassroots groups start if children aren’t encouraged to see beyond “us” versus “them”? Do any of these titles suggest that we sit down with our eight year olds and give a full history of our government’s faults?”

A child’s inquisitive mind will certainly ask questions about why do the streets have no names and about the wall and etc. How do we explain security concerns, rock attacks, rockets and mortars to an 8 year old? It simply to harsh and complicated a situation. I do think this kind of story should be told to a teenager who would have the maturity to handle these issues. Children need to be instilled with moral values AWAY from political biases. That is why fables are told about animals so the child can relate in a removed level (and plus it makes the story cuter!) In any case I think we agree these lesson are important but how and to who they spoken needs much scrutiny.

Melewen says:

“How do we explain security concerns, rock attacks, rockets and mortars to an 8 year old?”

You don’t. But you do teach them about bullying and being kind to others so as they grow the have the foundation upon which to build more nuanced understandings. What’s the use of teaching with fables if you don’t then connect them to real life? That’s what they were made for. Children are not stupid — they’re inexperienced and as such, often underestimated. As a school librarian I’m constantly amazed at the depth and complexity of thought exhibited by my youngest students. We should be taking advantage of this natural open-mindedness instead of just saying “we’ll teach them the important stuff later.”

Chumpsky says:

“What’s the use of teaching with fables if you don’t then connect them to real life? That’s what they were made for. Children are not stupid — they’re inexperienced and as such, often underestimated.”

I can only say I do not agree w/ this method of education. I and my siblings were raised on fables and non the less we turned out to be pragmatic, socially conscious individuals (my sister is a psychiatrist that works like a demon for her patients and my brother does programming for a non for profit) with out being submitted to political content at the age of 8. I’m sorry but I can not agree with this point of view. You can teach children about “important stuff” without submitted them to mature material beyond their years. I think the current situation of the public school system speaks volumes about the methods that are being used. In any case if this is the road you wish to follow I really hope it succeeds for you but the truth I think kids be allowed to be children until they are old enough to understand things with maturity.

Rachel says:

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