Ben­jamin Netanyahu: Lead­ing the Way For Israel

Elisa Sil­ver­man
  • Review
By – July 25, 2016

Mitchell Lane Pub­lish­ing has intro­duced Voic­es From Israel, a series of books designed to edu­cate high school stu­dents about life in Israel: a chal­leng­ing task in a world filled with media sources with par­tic­u­lar slants and agen­das and abun­dant mis­in­for­ma­tion thrust at young peo­ple from all sides. This is an exten­sive col­lec­tion of short but pithy books, divid­ed into two groups. The first set con­sists of the five titles list­ed above and will be addressed in this review. Set two will be addressed sep­a­rate­ly. Each vol­ume in set one attempts to pro­vide as com­plete a view as pos­si­ble of its top­ic, con­sid­er­ing the short for­mat and the com­plex­i­ty of Israeli soci­ety, and each attempts to stray as lit­tle as pos­si­ble into areas of major polit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sy. The pub­lish­er and select­ed authors have done a good job of walk­ing this tricky tightrope. 

The first book in the set is a short pic­ture biog­ra­phy of Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter, Ben­jamin Netanyahu. It includes some per­son­al bio­graph­i­cal data and attempts to put his career into his­tor­i­cal con­text. The text is accom­pa­nied by col­or pho­tographs and includes a time­line, chap­ter notes, a list of works con­sult­ed, sug­ges­tions for fur­ther read­ing, a short list of works authored by Netanyahu him­self, and a list of inter­net resources to con­sult. While well done, per­haps this vol­ume might have been more effec­tive lat­er in the series when a greater under­stand­ing of the area’s back­ground has been absorbed by the read­er, although the books do not nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be read in order. The Expe­ri­ence of Israel: Sights and Cities is the next vol­ume in set one. It intro­duces read­ers to basic geo­graph­ic loca­tions includ­ing major cities, rivers and lakes. The descrip­tions include his­tor­i­cal and bib­li­cal ref­er­ences as well as cur­rent infor­ma­tion and the author points out the impor­tance of many of the sites to the major reli­gions of today. The descrip­tions are accom­pa­nied by appeal­ing col­or pho­tographs which help bring the text to life and which give the read­er a good sense of local atmos­phere. The vol­ume enti­tled I Am Israeli: The Chil­dren of Israel address­es Israeli life through the eyes of five chil­dren. Four are Jew­ish chil­dren and one is a Mus­lim child from who lives in East Jerusalem. Each child shares a bit of what life is like for his or her fam­i­ly and friends. Crafts projects and recipes are includ­ed along with many col­or pho­tographs and the author includes an intro­duc­tion writ­ten by her own son. Return­ing Home: Jour­neys To Israel doc­u­ments the return of Jews from all over the world back to their ancient and his­toric home­land, Israel. Sto­ries of Olim (immi­grants to Israel) from the U.S. and else­where are fea­tured in his­tor­i­cal and social con­text and the role of the Israeli gov­ern­ment in their absorp­tion as well as oth­er orga­ni­za­tions such as Nefesh B’Ne­fesh are addressed. The con­cept of an immi­grant and what it feels like to be an immi­grant are dis­cussed. The final vol­ume in the set, Work­ing Togeth­er: Econ­o­my, Tech­nol­o­gy and Careers in Israel starts with a his­tor­i­cal approach, trac­ing the Israeli econ­o­my from its kib­butz ori­ent­ed roots to the vibrant free mar­ket of today, It does not ignore work­place prob­lems such as the ten­den­cy of some of the Ultra-Ortho­dox to pur­sue reli­gious stud­ies rather than join the work­force or the var­i­ous work­place issues relat­ing to the Arab com­mu­ni­ties but it also dis­cuss­es attempts to address these issues and pri­mar­i­ly focus­es on the vibran­cy of the econ­o­my due to cut­ting edge cre­ativ­i­ty, dri­ve, and entre­pre­neur­ship. It also high­lights the role that uni­ver­sal con­scrip­tion into the army plays in the devel­op­ment of this per­co­lat­ing econ­o­my. This vol­ume is also illus­trat­ed with numer­ous col­or pho­tographs as well as a time­line, chap­ter notes, works con­sult­ed, fur­ther read­ing, inter­net resources, a glos­sary of terms and an index. 

This series is a wel­come addi­tion to Israel edu­ca­tion, span­ning a wide vari­ety of top­ics with exten­sive of back­mat­ter help­ful for fur­ther research. It gives a good sense of atmos­phere and col­or in addi­tion to many facts. The cho­sen authors are knowl­edge­able and the back­ground and expe­ri­ence of each is not­ed in the indi­vid­ual vol­umes. The series is a good jump­ing off point for learn­ing about a com­plex coun­try and would be use­ful both at home and in the classroom. 

Rec­om­mend­ed for ages 8 – 14.

Addi­tion­al Titles Fea­tured in Review:

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

Discussion Questions