Monday, 19 December 2011

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less

How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or LessHow to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In cinematic fashion, Sarah Glidden tells of what she learned during her Birthright trip to Israel. Upon departure, she thought she understood the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. In fact, some people on the tour dubbed her the “self-hating Jew”.

Even though the character of Sarah learns that things may not be quite as they seem, I found that there wasn’t a whole lot of new information. We do learn, via examples such as Masada and Frank the Republican, that there may be more than one version of a story/history. Also, in the end, despite Glidden’s best intentions, we never get to witness the Palestinian side of the conflict. Both Glidden and the reader are scared off.

I do find it interesting that there exists such an entity as the Birthright tours: a free trip for the Jewish Diaspora to visit Israel. I like that.

As well, Israel in 60 Days does convey the wide range of Israeli experiences and points of view. Glidden’s own self-deprecating portrayal and Rabbi Hartman’s impassioned lecture counters the “brainwashing” effect that Glidden fears the tour will create.

Still, Glidden does succumb to the “Birthright Glow” and wonders if she has “Jerusalem Syndrome”. She does feel a connection to Israel, which she doesn’t fully understand, but wonderful for the reader to witness.

Israel in 60 Days does provide a novice reader about the basics of Israel and does so in an engaging fashion. One word of warning: If you have older eyes like mine, you may find the lettering hard to read.

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