Israeli Politics

Israeli and Palestinian shed their armor in ‘Desert Sunrise’

The play opens in the south Hebron hills in the West Bank with Tsahi, an off-duty Israel Defense Forces soldier (Oren Dayan), pointing his gun at Ismail, a Palestinian shepherd (Dominic Rains). Having just broken up with his settler girlfriend, Tsahi is lost and seeking a way back to the main road. Ismail, waiting for his Muslim Palestinian girlfriend, Layla (Miriam Isa), is the only one who can help Tsahi find his way.

Debra Winger explores Jewish/Arab day schools

Students at the Hand in Hand Max Rayne Bilingual School in Jerusalem didn’t know they were meeting a celebrity. They weren’t born when the films “Officer and a Gentleman” and “Terms of Endearment” garnered Debra Winger her Oscar nominations. But Winger’s tour last month to the Hand in Hand Arab-Jewish day schools was not necessarily meant to move the students, but to enrich her own understanding of pathways for Arab and Jewish co-existence. “I’d like to think I’m helping, but in the end, it feels selfish — how much I got out of seeing this and what it did to my heart,” the 53-year-old actress told a group of reporters in the library of the school’s new Jerusalem campus. Raised in a secular Jewish household in Cleveland, Winger volunteered on a kibbutz in 1972 and has maintained her connection ever since. In fact, she was introduced to the bilingual schools following a talk at the Jewish Federation in Florida on the occasion of Israel’s 60th anniversary. Speaking to the federation audience, she recalled a “fight” she had with an Arab American friend that was triggered by the Second Lebanon War, which broke out while Winger served as a judge for the Jerusalem Film Festival. “We couldn’t even talk to each other,” Winger told The Jewish Journal, recounting the episode. “She would forward me e-mails with newspaper articles for me to read, and I would reply, saying could you please replace …

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Continuing But Not Moving On

After the first few minutes of speaking with Shifra Shomron over the phone, the similarities between this young author and the heroine of her debut novel, Grains of Sand: The Fall of Neve Dekalim, become apparent. She’s busy studying for finals, and she asks to hold the interview when they are over. Shomron, 20, like her heroine Efrat Yefet, is studious, industrious, a “star student” and something of a bookworm. One probably has to be to publish a novel at 19. She is strikingly poised, mature and idealistic for her age. At times she passionately gives facts and information about her community like a caring yet strict teacher – which is a good thing, since her ambition is to impact society as a high-school English teacher. Grains of Sand is the first novel to emerge out of the rubble of Gush Katif, and it is through teenaged Efrat Yefet that Shomron allows readers to become familiar with life there in the years leading up to disengagement. As I step into the Shomron family caravilla (prefab housing unit) in Nitzan, more similarities between the author and Efrat begin to surface. A golden retriever rushes to the door and happily greets me as another fluffy-haired mutt looks on. The Shomrons’ three dogs are characters in the novel, and pictures of them illustrate the book. The portrait of an animal-loving Gush Katif family of four fits with another one of Shomron’s literary purposes, …

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Engaging the Disengagers

This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post on August 9, 2007. Click here for the original. How were the soldiers who performed the pullout affected by the emotional turmoil? Gil stood on a steaming sidewalk in a row of soldiers awaiting orders, while kids and teenagers darted out of the Kfar Darom homes, randomly approaching his brigade, hoping to break their firm physical and emotional barriers and get them to refuse the orders. The lawns of the terra cotta-roofed homes were sprawled with settlers and their supporters, the atmosphere tense and emotionally loaded. “Many youngsters, mostly young girls, cursed us, yelled out us harshly: ‘How can you not be ashamed?’” recalls the 23-year-old kibbutznik from the Jordan Valley. His determination to carry out his orders was not deterred by their youthful, emotional interrogations, and today, two years after the disengagement, he remains unashamed. “I don’t think I’ll be ashamed to tell my kids about it. I don’t see myself as an individual person who participated. I think there is a historical process for the country, and I can say I was a part of it – a solder who was a part of it.” Gil has since completed his army service and works as an educational tour guide for young people. The disengagement – a move he favored – remains one of the most significant, difficult and thought-provoking chapters of his army service, but he doesn’t classify the operation as …

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Combining fact and fiction confuses peace event

I decided to attend the event with an open mind, to approach it as an opportunity to learn more about the occupation, to show my solidarity with my leftist brethren and to express my appreciation for their humanitarian instincts. While we may disagree on how to end the occupation – I believe in Palestinian disarmament, not reckless Palestinian empowerment –we agree that the status quo is untenable

Pride and Politics

Readers of Emuna Elon’s columns in Ma’ariv and Yediot Aharonot over the past 15 years might find her debut novel, If You Awaken Love, a striking, unlikely diversion from her political crusading. In her novel, political rhetoric is cooled and sympathies are spread over the political Left and Right alike. If You Awaken Love is not a morality tale, but a love story, or rather, an unrequited love story. The heroine, Shlomtzion, is not a settler, but part of the Yeshivat Merkaz Harav milieu in the 1970s, the hothouse for the growing religious-Zionist movement after the Six Day War. Once her engagement to her teenage love, Yair, is nixed by the rosh yeshiva, the heartbroken Shlomtzion rebels against and questions that world. “Everything that happens to her and everything she thinks, I know. It’s all a part of me… I haven’t lived as a secular person, but I’ve lived the possibility of that,” Elon tells The Jerusalem Post over coffee at the Inbal Hotel in Jerusalem. READ MORE IN THE JERUSALEM POST

Blue Oranges

Last year at the Israel Independence Day Festival in Woodley Park, anti-disengagement activist Shifra Hastings of Los Angeles was clad all over in orange, the color of protest, right down to her painted fingernails. She tirelessly handed out free orange ribbons, bracelets and T-shirts — even orange soda — to passersby at her booth, speaking to them about the dangers of Israel’s planned, unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.

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