Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Best Part of Traveling

Earlier this week, Martin Fletcher wrote about stories he’s covered for NBC’s London bureau and about choosing a title for his book . His newest book, Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation, is now available.
What I loved about writing Walking Israel was meeting the people I came across during my walk, people I would never normally have come across, and who directed me towards aspects of Israel that had never occurred to me in my 35 years of reporting from there…continue reading here.

Field Stories without Names

Yesterday, Martin Fletcher wrote about stories he’s covered for NBC’s London bureau. His newest book, Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation, is now available. He will be blogging all week for the JBC/MJL Author Blog.
I’m lousy at titles; I may spend more time thinking about what to call a book than planning its content. But what I’ve discovered is it doesn’t matter much what I think because the publisher decides anyway. Continue reading here.

From Serious News to the Tabloids

Martin Fletcher’s newest book, Walking Israel: A Personal Search for the Soul of a Nation, will be available tomorrow. He will be blogging all week for the JBC/MJL Author Blog.

I left NBC News to write books. Which explains why I quickly found myself back on their doorstep, begging for work – paid work. Continue reading here.

J Literary Links

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

Continue reading here.

Leaving Mother Russia

In his last posts, Gal Beckerman wrote about barbecuing with hijackers and his other baby. His first book, When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry, will be available September 23rd. Gal, a staff writer at the Forward, has been blogging for the Jewish Book Council and MyJewishLearning’s Author Blog series all week.

There is a strange irony in having worked on a history of the Soviet Jewry movement at a moment when Israel often sees those who most cherish the upholding of human rights and international law as its enemies. The recent wars in Lebanon and Gaza happened while I was researching and writing the book, conflicts that were followed by allegations that Israel had committed war crimes, and then by Israel’s defenders fiercely denouncing the NGOs and other international bodies who made those claims.

I say ironic because during the period I examine in the book – the early 1960s to the late 1980s – it was Jews who spoke most often about the respect for human rights. It was the Soviet Jewry movement that made such effective use of the language of international law. It wasn’t so long ago, but attitudes have so clearly shifted, that the years I wrote about now seem like a Twilight Zone inverse of today. Setting aside that there are those who see extreme bias (and even anti-Semitism) behind the claims of Israeli human rights violations, the reality is that Israel appears to be on the opposite side of these universal principles, not the force that is defending them. And that is a real change.

Back in the 1960s, Israel helped clandestinely to foment an international movement to help Soviet Jews, and they specifically focused on what they saw as the trampling of minority rights as the cause’s main argument. Throughout the years of the struggle, there was nothing more effective for both refuseniks (Jews who were refused emigration permits) and their American friends than to point to Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” In one samizdat journal, these words sat comfortably on the masthead next to Psalm 127, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem.” Soviet human rights activists like Andrei Sakharov supported the movement passionately and his photo still hangs on Natan Sharansky’s office wall. He looked up to him as a hero.

And most importantly, when the Helsinki process started in 1975 – a series of multilateral meetings that consistently put the Soviets on the defensive about their internal policies – it was the condition of Soviet Jewry that most clearly illustrated the problem. There was almost complete overlap between the goals of those focused on defending universal principles and those who cared about what was also very clearly a Jewish cause.

When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone will be available next week.

Favorite Fictional Jewish Characters

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter
In honor of Rosh Hashanah (and in time for Yom Kippur), The Huffington Post (and HuffPost readers) share their favorite Jewish fictional characters…continue reading here.

Etgar Keret on n+1

Posted by Naomi Firestone-Teeter

n+1 offers a preview of of Etgar Keret‘s latest book of short stories, Suddenly a Knock at the Door, not yet published in English, here. Continue reading here.