Israel Mat­ters

  • Review
By – November 20, 2012

In his intro­duc­tion, Mitchell Bard tells us that he has writ­ten this book so that peo­ple will come away with a basic under­stand­ing of Israel’s his­to­ry, pol­i­tics, culture…and some of the dilem­mas its peo­ple face.” 

In addi­tion to the main nar­ra­tive, the book fea­tures beau­ti­ful col­or pho­tographs of dif­fer­ent parts of Israel, dis­cus­sion ques­tions, sug­gest­ed activ­i­ties and a time line. Sec­tions high­light­ed in blue are devot­ed to var­i­ous top­ics of inter­est relat­ing to life in Israel. Those labeled Faces of Israel present vignettes of young Israelis from a vari­ety of back­grounds. There are also biogra­phies of famous peo­ple who have played spe­cial roles in Israel’s devel­op­ment. The sec­tions labeled Look Clos­er dis­cuss sub­jects such as tech­no­log­i­cal devel­op­ment, ten­sions between Jews and Arabs, polit­i­cal issues and how Israel got its name. The high­light­ed Think About It sec­tion gives exam­ples of dif­fi­cult issues fac­ing Israeli soci­ety such as why Rabin’s assas­si­na­tion was espe­cial­ly painful for Israelis and what kind of ques­tions it raised. Cre­ative think­ing about pos­si­ble solu­tions is encour­aged. One of the most provoca­tive sec­tions is titled What Would You Do? The read­er is pre­sent­ed with a sit­u­a­tion and asked how he or she might solve the prob­lem. For exam­ple, at a check­point in the West Bank a young Israeli sol­dier must decide whether to let an ambu­lance car­ry­ing a preg­nant woman pass when he has been told that this might actu­al­ly be a ter­ror­ist with a bomb. How these issues are resolved pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing glimpse into the Israeli psyche. 

To sum­ma­rize the sweep of his­to­ry from 1700 BCE to the present is a daunt­ing job and to do it so well and in so few pages is an impres­sive feat. 

High­ly rec­om­mend­ed for ages 12 to adult and may be of par­tic­u­lar inter­est to educators.

Marge Kaplan is a retired Eng­lish as a Sec­ond Lan­guage teacher. She is a con­sul­tant for the children’s lit­er­a­ture group for the Roseville, MN school sys­tem and is a sto­ry­teller of Jew­ish tales.

Discussion Questions