Today, 6 of us met at 9:30 am at the JCC, for the 35th session of the JCC Israel Book Club. Our book this month was The Hilltop by Assaf Gavron, inspiringly facilitated by Heddy. Heddy gets several medals for reading this book twice in order to ready herself for the facilitation! Heddy started the discussion with a review of the background of this author, who is a person of many talents: author, rock musician, videogame designer, high tech worker and book translator (from English into Hebrew), who currently lives with his spouse and children in Tel Aviv. His works have been acclaimed in Israel as well as in other parts of the world.
Heddy then framed this rather complex satiric work by looking at themes and focusing on the 3 major characters. Essentially, it was felt that this is a masterful work which makes it somewhat more palatable for divergent groups to explore the very controversial area of (illegal) settlements of Israel. In this book, both the Israelis and the Palestinians are described in three dimensions, but no-one is excused for their foibles or dysfunction. Gavron acknowledges these flaws, albeit somewhat non-judgmentally. We discussed the varying motivations for those in the book who chose this type of existence, as well as the potential overt and covert reasons for the governmental response/lackluster response/lack of response to the situation.
Finally, we looked at the whole issue of the illegal settlements and “legal” settlements, and whether or not these may play as strong a role in the continued lack of progress toward peace as has been alleged. We also touched on the regional geography and the previous indefensible borders of a country in a region where many have disputed their right to belong.
At our next meeting, on November 20, we will celebrate our “double chai” anniversary! We will read The Secret Life of Saeed, the pessoptimist, by Emile Habiby. I will facilitate this discussion. The choice of this book occurred when members of our group asked the simple question, “Is there a Palestinian literature?” This is part of an answer. We have decided not to meet in December, and part of next session will focus on choosing books and assigning facilitators for January onward! We say goodbye to Maddy and any other of our group members who are departing to warmer climes for the winter. We look forward to seeing you on your return to us!
Happy Sukkot! David