Losing Israel by Jasmine Donahaye

losing israelHome is where the heart breaks…

😀 😀 😀 😀

In this beautifully written and thoughtful book, the author, a British-born Jew, muses on her troubled relationship with the place she thinks of as ‘home’ – Israel. Her parents were kibbutzniks there, but emigrated to Britain before Donahaye’s birth. Donahaye made the first of her many visits to Israel at the age of ten, a visit that had a profound effect on her when she saw her mother blossom amongst the places and language of her youth, becoming someone other than the person Donahaye knew. This not altogether positive experience was followed by other trips during which Donahaye came to love and admire her mother’s country deeply, absorbing from her extended family the Zionist version of the history of the State of Israel as it has become mythologised by those who have lived, fought and died there since its foundation. For many years, Donahaye didn’t question this version of events.

Two sides to every story... Israeli soldiers in Gaza Photo:Israeli Defence Forces handout/Reuters
Two sides to every story…
Israeli soldiers in Gaza
Photo: Israeli Defence Forces handout/Reuters

However at the age of forty, on discovering that her grandfather had been involved in the driving out of the Arabs from their villages in 1947, Donahaye started a journey that led her to learn the other history of Israel – the one that talks about ethnic cleansing of the Arabs, that explains the refugee camps, that suggests that the Palestinian Arabs saw this land as home as much as the Jews, either of Palestine or from the diaspora, ever did, and had as much right to it. This book is the story of that journey, as Donahaye takes the reader through her gradual awakening to the full complexities of the history of this troubled region and her agonised process of reassessment of the country she still loves and feels inextricably drawn towards.

Two sides to every story... Members of the Palestinian Al-Aqsa brigade at the Qalandia checkpoint on the Separation Wall Photo: Al-Jazeera
Two sides to every story…
Members of the Palestinian al-Aqsa brigade at the Qalandia checkpoint on the Separation Wall
Photo: al-Jazeera

I’ll get my criticisms out of the way first because, though not unflawed, it is in many ways an exceptional read, whichever side of the Zionist debate the reader might tend towards. The book is short, but in truth I felt it was also a little too long for its subject matter. The tone is unbrokenly melancholic and this made it quite a monotone read. There are too many divergences to describe bird-watching experiences, although these passages are often beautifully written and she frequently uses them as metaphors for the migrations of both Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Photo: AFP/Getty Images

I also felt Donahaye must have been remarkably unaware of politics if she had managed to live for forty years without being conscious of the other side of the Palestinian question. I could perhaps have understood that more had she lived in Israel, where the atmosphere of constant threat from outside might encourage a national blindness to other viewpoints. But living in the UK where there are at least as many critics of Israel’s stance towards the Palestinian Arabs as supporters of it, then one would have to have no interest in the subject at all to remain ignorant of at least some of the arguments. While her investigations did uncover some small facts that are not generally known, the big picture that seemed to shock her so much is one that has been debated and argued over for decades. As such, I didn’t find that the book really added much to the debate – though perhaps it would in Israel, if it is an accurate picture Donahaye paints of it as almost a police state where anyone who tries to find out about its history is immediately suspect and subjected to state surveillance.

Photo: @Majdi Fathi/NUR Photo/Rex
Photo: @Majdi Fathi/NUR Photo/Rex

Bearing that in mind then, for me the chief interest in the book was in seeing how her discoveries affected her emotionally, as she gradually changed her mind about the unarguable rightness of the Israeli position. Torn between her love for the nation and her horror at finding out how the Palestinian Arabs had been treated by it, she describes her struggles eloquently, using some beautiful, almost poetic language, even if just occasionally I found that in her new-found awareness she was veering perhaps a little too far towards the maudlin end of liberal political correctness. She talks not just of the politics and history of Israel, but of the land itself – its beauty, its wildlife and the lack of water which, she suggests perceptively, may in the end be a crucial factor in determining how the future pans out. When she speaks of her family in Israel, we see how the fear and anxiety they live with daily affects their opinions and attitudes. She writes emotively of how her researches upset the elder members of her family, challenging the foundations of their loyalty to their nation.

Jasmine Donahaye
Jasmine Donahaye

The book is at its most profound, I feel, when she discusses the ways histories are made by those with a vested interest in ensuring their version is accepted. Renaming of Arab villages after they had been cleared of their occupants, to give them Hebrew names and to, in some cases, suggest links back to the Biblical era, is shown as a means both of legitimising the Israeli State and of obliterating the long history between that earlier time and the present and, with it, obliterating the suggestion of any other occupants having legitimate claims to the land. Donahaye describes how the older members of her family still tend to use the old Arab names that were current in their childhood, while young people are forgetting not only the old names, but the very fact that they ever existed. And, in parallel with this, she shows how easy, and perhaps necessary, it can be for the people on one side of a conflict to dehumanise those on the other.

An emotional exploration of one woman’s journey, this might not change the terms of the debate, but it certainly casts light on it. And is an eloquent testimony to the heart-rending that can be caused when the nation one loves acts in ways one finds hard to bear.

NB This book was provided for review by the publisher, Seren.

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

82 thoughts on “Losing Israel by Jasmine Donahaye

  1. I spent 3 years near Gaza during the second Intifada, end of the 80ies. After all that’s happened in the meantime (giur inclusive), I am still flip-flopping when it comes to taking sides for one or the other …

    • I find it almost impossible to take sides on this one, or to see a solution. But if the people involved, Israelis and Palestinian Arabs, and the supporters of each, could at least recognise that there are two sides to it, then maybe that’s a tiny step forward.

  2. This does sound like a very interesting read, even if it doesn’t add much to the age old debate. When people write well about such emotive subjects from a personal point of view I am often enthralled. But… why can’t everyone just get on and have a big hug?? The world would be a nicer place 🙂

  3. Thanks for the review….plan to read this. I have a jewish friend who was born and raised outside Israel and would deny with her dying breath that there was any driving out of Arabs or any destruction of villages although there is clear historical evidence. Only in my own country ( South Africa) have i experienced such a re writing of history, such complete denial and where Israel is concerned it is complicated by the fact that any criticism of the politics or human rights of israel is cast as anti semitism. I am surprised and impressed by your courage in reviewing this book.

    • It’s certainly one that’s well worth reading. I’m not sure whether we ever find out the ‘truth’ of history in any conflict – there will always be people on both sides who literally can’t see the other side, making positions become ever more polarised. Yes, I find it extremely upsetting when any criticism of Israel’s actions is interpreted as anti-Semitism – but it’s a very effective ploy for dampening rational debate. Of course, now we also have the opposite side of that too, where any criticism of Arab states is described as ‘Islamophobia’. Sometimes it seems an impossible dream that humanity will ever learn to live together. But perhaps South Africa might be showing us all that at least there’s a chance…

      Thanks for visiting and commenting. 🙂

  4. What an interesting journey that must have been for her, FictionFan. I think it’s often an emotionally-charged experience to see one’s parents from a different perspective – to learn they aren’t/weren’t the people you imagined, or that there is/was a completely different side to them. Even if the revelation about the other side to the debates in Israel isn’t exactly credible, it sounds as though it speaks to that larger issue of how we cope with learning about the other side’s point of view. And it’s good to hear it’s well-written for the most part.

    • Yes, indeed. From what Donahaye says, her mother seems to have almost supressed her Israeli side to help her children assimilate as British. So it came as a surprise to a ten-year-old to see her mother suddenly fluent in a language and culture she wasn’t much aware of. Very well written – and an interesting read, perhaps as much for seeing how people choose not to see the ‘other side’ in conflicts as for seeing Donahaye’s own journey…

  5. i’ve never been, but a friend spent a summer in Israel.

    Sounds like a very intense book. As I read your review, I couldn’t help thinking of Daniel Deronda by George Eliot, which is more about what it means to be Jewish in a place rife with prejudices toward those who are Jewish.

    • Yes, indeed, if there’s one thing humanity’s good at it’s being prejudiced against others over perceived ‘difference’. I guess the point of this one is to show that that prejudice tends to work both ways – the victim is often also the perpetrator. Will we ever reach a stage where everyone is judged on their character rather than by race, religion, gender…? Oh dear, what a depressing thought for a Monday! 😉

  6. I’m really looking forward (well you know how much I enjoy soul-searching stuff!!) to reading this. SO many wonderfully knotty reads stacking up, I shan’t know how to proceed first – so you have both American Pastoral AND this vying to queue-jump. I might just have to proceed with a short book about Jazz which is due to arrive any time. I’m almost permanently harrowed out with my reading at the moment…

    Anyways, great review and great recommendation

    • Thank you, LF! I suspect you might enjoy this one even more than I did – it’s much more of a Fancifull book than an FF one I feel. And though it is emotional it’s not totally harrowing, I think – though we do tend to get harrowed by different things!

      Is the jazz book courtesy of Vine? I was offered one (possibly the same one) too, and was tempted but decided I couldn’t fit it in – certainly not in the next thirty days! Did you take a little look at the 1914 book I’m currently reading? It might tickle your tastebuds too – and it’s very short! It’s variable, but of the four essays I’ve read so far, two have been definite five-stars… and the list of contributors is phenomenal! Still on NG, I think.

      • Oh have you NO shame, you know I’m going to have to take a mosey over and possibly add. I’m behind on my NG reviewing and think I might be under the 80% which makes me feel guilty – I have a book on positive psychology which has me both agreeing with the author and gravely unsure, so I’m full of in the head chatter, weighing this up against that and struggling to conclude. This has being going on for several days. And indeed, the Jazz was a Vine and it leapt out at me – funnily enough I have had a little spate of good Vines of late . Not all being blogged as they are so far ahead of publication that it seemed better to wait for a bit. At least the 30 days does prove successful in sorting out that all important place in the TBR queue – the Vines queue jump the lot!

        I will (sighs, moderately crossly, moderately in satisfaction) go and have a little 1914 look……..I’m supposed to be finally getting Anne Boleyn’s head cut off by the weekend – a book club history book….and keep being distracted by excellent novels and spin off reading from the Beryl Markham fictionalised biography. Frankly, I no longer know whether I’m flying solo from London to New York, training horses, imprisoned in the Tower or deep in small town America, The only way forward is to trace the development of jazz.

        • No shame at all! I’m behind too – this summer challenge has pushed all my usual reading to one side – I’m feeling overwhelmed! I doubt I’m not cut out for challenges, especially ones that tie up so much time all at once. However, only another month, then it’ll be catch-up time. But some of my reviews will be ages after publication, and I hate doing that – if they give me freebies, I do like to at least try to review them within a reasonable time. I’m still not really being offered many books on Vine – probably because I hardly ever take one now. But I can’t say I’m sorry – NetGalley is enough to contend with. I’m going to stop taking audiobooks for review too – I never seem to get around to listening them nor really enjoying them as much as the booky versions.

          Poor Anne Boleyn! I’m sure she won’t mind if there’s a bit of a delay…!

          • Yes, my 2016 new year resolution will be to do no more reading challenges. I doubt I’ll properly finish the Popsugar one, which i thought might be quite interesting, but I will no doubt have several unfilled categories, and other categories contain trillions. For example ‘ a book you should have read in high school but didn’t’ will be pretty well impossible, for someone who is and was a voracious reader, The nearest would be the COMPLETE Canterbury Tales in the original middle English at Uni. And, you know, I kind of think that might be best left unread as I have no real desire to complete that with so many other books vying for attention. And as for the book which became a TV series….snorts in derision. Pretty well bound to be dire reading in my prejudiced mind….though my book club did offer me two choices at this, one of which I couldn’t stomach beyond trying the Look Inside on Vine, twice, and falling asleep with boredom and distaste by page 2, the second of which I DID finish but was pits beyond pits and a struggled grimly through speed reading as quickly as possible, skipping to get to the end. There are, there really are so very many books it hurts me to NOT have time for, so reading bad books for a challenge seems a little like going to the dentist and asking if you could possibly have a perfectly healthy tooth extracted without anaesthetic just in order to suffer some unnecessary pain for the hell of it!

            • Yes, any time I look at challenges with categories I end up deciding I’d have to read books I don’t really want to just for the sake of finishing – and I do hate not to finish something I’ve started. This one let us pick twenty books randomly, so I created the problem for myself by picking ten that weren’t already on my list for a ‘soon’ read. While I’ve enjoyed most of them so far, the ones I should have read for review purposes have fallen by the wayside. Oh well! I’m just trying not to request any more till I catch up again!

              No suggestions for the ‘should have read at school’ category – like you, that was never one of my problems. But for the series one, you could go way back in time and review something from the classics – The Warden… The old Barchester Chronicles series was great. Or for really quick, you could review a Sherlock Holmes – The Hound of the Baskervilles – since they tell me the dreaded Sherlock is supposed to be based on the books… 😉

  7. Dear Fiction Fan,

    will confess that I have been troubled for the last week or so by the thought that you were going to be reading and reviewing this book. Not because you don’t have the absolutely perfect right to do so, but that then i was going to have to write something in reply. I thought of just passing it over, but I would have felt very remiss in doing so. Interestingly, I had been recently watching the last series of “Foyle’s War,” which is dealing with issues of anti-semitism in Britain following WWII, and also issues regarding the founding of the state of Israel. To my knowledge, the series writer and creator Anthony Horowitz and his historical researcher have always done a meticulous job in trying to make the stories closely follow true history.

    I was thinking about the fact that the Jewish people were expelled from England by King Edward I in 1290, for no other reason then that they were Jewish. This edict was never rescinded, but when Cromwell ruled for a time, Jewish people were allowed back into England around 1650. In the late 19th century, a Jewish person was finally elected to Parliament, but not allowed to take his seat because he wanted to be sworn in using the Old Testament, not the New Testament. “This is a Christian Assembly!” the other members shouted. So Mr. Rotschild did not take his seat. Twenty or so years later, Prime Minister Disraeli, of Jewish ancestry but whose grandparents had converted, helped to allow the first Jewish member of Parliament to be seated.

    What does this have to do with anything? Simply that anti-semitism has been pernicious in England for over a thousand years, and of course in the rest of Europe. Jews realized that anti-semitism was growing in the late 19th century, and influential Jews pleaded with British leaders to create a small state in what had been the Jewish homeland prior to the Romans destroying the Second Temple, and effectively driving all the Jewish people out of Israel. Balfour promised such, but nothing was done until it was far too late, and the most evil people who have ever inhabited this earth, the Nazis, systematically managed to carry out the murder of 6 million Jewish people, aided and abetted by the Austrians, Poles, and other virulently anti-semitic people. The Nazis wanted to kill every Jewish person on the planet, and might have, had they not been defeated.

    So feeling a bit of guilt over this, there was a UN agreement to create the state of Israel. Please note that there was no Palestinian state then, nor had there ever been. For 1800 years following the Diaspora, there was no Palestinian state; and the Arabs had no interest whatsoever in the Palestinians. Nor did the Palestinians ever band together to form such a state, or even demand it; or think of themselves in such national terms; they seem only to have done this after Israel was created. Anyway, to skip quickly, after Israel was founded in 1947, the Arab countries attacked it, vowing to “drive Israel into the sea.” But Israel prevailed. In 1967, Egypt attacked Israel again, but was defeated. Israeli armies could have conquered Egypt, had it been another century, but the UN quickly demanded that their armies halt their advance. And Israel had no interest in conquering any countries in any event. They did keep a few miles of land owned by Jordan, which they felt would help them from being attacked again by an Arab world which had as its only major purpose the destruction of Israel, and the wiping out of the entire population. In 1973, Israel was attacked again by Egypt and Syria. This attack was done on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. The Arabs believed that this would be a good time to attack, because so many Israelis would be in synagogues. And indeed Israel suffered serious losses, but did prevail; once again being told by the UN to stand down and withdraw, which they did.

    To this day, no Arab state even recognizes the right of Israel to exist, except that Egyypt essentially did under Sadat, but he was killed by Arab radicals. There was an agreement in place between Rabin and Arafat which would have set things up for a Palestinian state, but under pressure from Hamas and Hezbollah, Arafat reneged. In Palestinian schools, they are given maps of the Middle East which show no Israel. They and the rest of the Arab world are confident that given time, Israel will be desroyed. They can’t do it militarily (though Iran would certainly drop a nuclear weapon on Israel if they had one), but they can do it by propaganda, particularly since much of the world, including England, is still depending on Arab oil. Britain has cozened up to the Arab states for a long time. And the Btitish Left, for a variety of reasons, including their reflexive identification with “the underdog,” combined with a kind of inherited British anti-semitism, has somehow decided that Israel is the worst country in the world. Not the African states which routinely slaughter hundreds of thousands of their own people in ethnic warfare. Not the Arab states which are all tyrannies, and which treat women in appalling fashion. Not China. Not the banana republics. Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East; a country which had a woman as Prime Minister before Britain ever did. And the country which happens to have a secret service which is of immense value to England, America, and much of the world, in providing information and warnings about radical Muslim terrorist plots. These plots will certainly not stop if Israel would disappear; in fact, they would greatly increase.

    So now we come to the book, which I of course have not read. It appears that Ms. Donahue, who is Welsh, and has degrees in English from Berkeley and Swansea, made some trips to Israel, in which she was able to “discover” shocking truths, including the fact that the history of the creation of tne nation of Israel in 1947 was not what we are told, not what we read, not what has been dramatised in movies or shown in historical documentaries. And further, she learns that Israel is a virtual police state, wherein if one questions any aspect of the history, one is subject to “state surveillance.”

    I am Jewish, and proud of my heritage and history. I do not agree with every aspect of israeli policy, just as I do not agree with everything the United States government does. But I am very comfortable in believing that not only does Israel have an absolute right to exist as a nation, but that compared to the vast majority of countries in the world, it is an admirable democracy which unfortunately must have as its chief concern its actual survival.. I have not been to Israel. I do know many people who have been, at least to visit; and some who have lived there for several years, on kibbuzes, or even staying longer because they loved the country so much. I have never heard of any of them, nor anyone else, calling Israel a police state, or anything close to that. I did know a lot of Americans who did, or still do, like to think of the U.S.. as a police state; and I am sure that there were some British in the Thatcher era who were saying the same about England. But I have never heard anyone who lived in Israel for any period, calling Israel a “virtual police state,” or suggesting state surveillance of citizens who have different views of things. Israel is famous for having all sorts of people who argue about everything; and the Israeli parliament is known for its incessant drawn-out debates.

    This is not to question the sincerity of Ms. Donahaye’s quest, although who knows what her deeper psychological motivations might be. I have not read her book, and thus I am not qualified to deal with that. But in general, I would seriously question any work whose author, a professor of literature, purports to have discovered deep, dark secrets about a country which she never lived in for any extended period; and in which she characterizes that country in terms which I have never seen used before, except by people who hate the country for political or ethnic reasons. I realize that Ms. Donahaye is Jewish, or at least was at one time. And I appreciate that she might feel sad about aspects of the Middle East situation. But I seriously doubt that she has somehow discovered that all the national history has been fabricated; and that the country of Israel is run like an Orwellian police state. And since unfortunately the Arab world is bent on completely destroying the state of Israel, I am not patient or forbearing enough to want to read what I am sensing is a well written book full of feeling, but also a great degree of willful credulousness, which somehow contends that a few people whom she may have talked to, actually possess great secrets which have been carefully expunged.

    And I do apologize for the very extended comments. I could shorten them, but I don’t know exactly where, because I think it is all important for perspective, at least my own.

    • It is an emotive subject for sure, William, and my sorrow is that people on both sides are so polarised they are not yet even ready to listen to each other’s viewpoint. Personally I think that the relevance of history should be merely to inform the future, not to dwell on the iniquities of the past. Because Britain acted badly in the past should not prevent us acting well in the future, and I refuse to be expected to live in perpetual guilt for the sins of distant ancestors. My immediate ancestors as I have said before fought against Hitler. But even if they hadn’t that would still not make me guilty. The sins of the fathers really should not be visited on the sons.

      As to the Palestinians never thinking of themselves as a nation, I think this is one of the greatest irrelevances of all. Does that then justify driving them from their homes and destroying their way of life? Is that the same justification we use for the destruction, ‘ethnic cleansing’ (dreadful expression) and sometimes genocide of indigenous peoples throughout the world? Such things are never justifiable, but they are unjustifiable equally, whoever the perpetrator and whoever the victim. Was our treatment of Native Americans (Australian Aboriginals, New Zealand Maoris, etc etc) acceptable because they had no sense of nationhood?

      In my opinion, it is more important to read books that challenge our views rather than simply bolster our pre-existing beliefs by reading only what supports them. As far as the Israel/Palestine question goes, I think both sides have behaved atrociously over the last 70 years and show no signs of changing, and each have had the despicable support of governments, including my own and yours, willing to use them to fight a proxy war. And yet still, I don’t think we should be abandoning either side to its fate, however tempting – but we should put our efforts, all of us, into finding a route to peace, rather than continuing to provide the support for war. If the UN is to serve a purpose then all its decisions should be enforced, not just those that suit one side or another. (And I would remove the power of veto from the permanent members to ensure that the ‘great powers’ no longer decide right and wrong for the whole world.) Until everyone agrees that there are two sides to this question, as to every other one, then no forward progress is possible. And people on both sides will continue to be brutalised by war and to die needlessly. Let’s leave the horrors of the past behind us and see if we can instead use our energy and intelligence to stop more horrors in the future, perpetrated by any one group against any other.

      As far as the book is concerned, Ms Donahaye is not changing sides, nor condemning Israel alone – she is merely doing what I expect all people of goodwill to do – accepting that nothing is black and white, that there is always more than one side to every question. And hoping that a way will be found to give us all a future that is better than our past. And that’s up to all of us.

      We’ve both had our say now, so in conclusion I’ll merely say that this is a book blog, not a political blog. I will from time to time review political books, but don’t intend for this to become a place for political debate or argument. So, with thanks for your heartfelt and considered contribution, I would prefer to end this particular conversation here. (If you feel you wish to discuss it any further off-blog, then my e-mail address is on my About page.) I hope you will feel you can continue to visit, despite the clear divide on our views on this subject.

      • Well, that is certainly fair enough, and I appreciate your allowing me to write my lengthy comment, which I felt compelled to write because of the nature of the book. And I would MUCH rather discuss a good mystery, or the GAN Quest!

      • Oh FF. If there is ANY hope at all, for any of us it lies in seeing there are always at least two sides, and, as you say we must show ‘goodwill’ enough to hear each other, and, I think to come out of that hot place of charged emotion. I don’t mean that we can only understand purely through ‘reason’ either, because part of our trouble lies in over-rationality, as much as it lies in over-emotionalism. But ‘hot’ emotion and ‘cold’ reason are extremes. There has to be a place where the coolness of reason and the heat of emotion modify each other into a warmth so we can listen to the other’s reasoned debate, and also feel where the emotion lies – and that is a hard balance, from both sides, to any charged debate.

        So I think your response is beautifully held, and coming from that place

        I’ve probably lost the response I think I’m replying to, and am replying to one about chocolate, or Rafa, or something serious) so my response will make no sense at all.

        • I don’t blame people who are caught up in a conflict for becoming polarised – it would be hard to remain rational if people are being killed around you. But I do blame politicians and, even more, people who live at a distance and aren’t directly affected for not standing back, taking a deep breath and listening to the other side however hard they may find it. Generally the people on both sides would make a compromise for peace but there are always outsiders baying for blood and leaders who won’t risk sacrificing their own careers. And I do tire of perpetrators and supporters of violence using the old “he started it” excuse – are we five?? Send them all to bed with no supper! And don’t let them out till they’re ready to shake hands and make up…

          • I do think that ‘listening to other’ is a real skill, and one which needs to be learned, and learned repeatedly. We all can get caught up in that snarly you started it place on the most trivial of provocations, it’s so easy to see that in others, and feel it in oneself, too. Take that tendency and then magnify it with the force of social groups behind it. Someimes I think we might have been better off grubbing around, eating wichetty grubs and mutually grooming lice out of each other’s fur. Losing body hair , taking care of one’s own hygiene, losing the taste for witchetty grubs and demanding chocolate has a lot to answer for.

            ‘Unthinking animals’ spend a lot more time in posturing disagreement than we do, there seems to be an instinct which also kicks in, in many species, that real fighting will lead most probably to fatal wounding in both aggressors, so there’s a lot of noise, and then some kind of surrender and then things get forgotten.

            Mind you, there are also animals who seem to have a greater aggressiveness than their fellows and like a bit of bloodletting, not just snarling and cheeping.

            Unfortunately, with much more power to do real damage, we often seem to have lost ‘back-off’, preferring escalation

  8. I’ve never been to Israel, FF, but I’d like to, one day. Being surrounded by so much history (the U.S. really is a “baby” in the overall chronology of things!) appeals to me. While I appreciate how much work the author has put into this book, I’m not sure its subject matter would hold my interest for long. Perhaps having spent sooooo many years in journalism, I’m just enjoying a break from politics and such!

    • It’s a place I’ve regretted not visiting too – especially Jerusalem. Maybe one day.. I love when my Canadian relaltives visit – they’re always so blown away by how much ‘history’ there is over here. Most of it bloody, of course, and much more fun to look back on than to live through! But it does mean we have lots of castles. And even we’re babies in comparison to the Middle East. Yes, I don’t often read books about current day politics, though I like history and biographies. Enough politics on the news! But this one was an enjoyable read and more about her emotional journey than the actual politics, on the whole, thankfully.

    • *laughs* She does! Now she’s a good player, isn’t she? (Martha, not Jasmine.) But does she always look as if she’s about to cry… or in pain? She should eat some chocolate before she plays…

      No…should I? I was however (finally) watching Mr Bloom in his elvish days over the weekend – agreed, the music is great, but I still kept finding I was tuning it completely out in favour of the words and visuals. Isn’t the bit where Boromir dies just brilliantly tragic? *sniffles*

      • Martha is a fantastic player! I actually know her, can you believe. Very nice, too.*laughing lots* I may have noticed that, too. Maybe she’s just into the music? I beat my guitar when I am.

        No, it’s just a movie about the Saracens and the Crusaders. I love the part of history. For some reason, I’m infatuated with knights and things. You mean LotR? Mr. Bloom! Well, it’s easy to do that, I do it all the time. The music work so well. But when the great themes come in, like Rohan, Gondor, and even the Shire theme…goodness! Just beautiful. I’ll be playing the Rohan theme soon. Yes, I always wished Boromir lived. He should’ve at least hid behind a tree!!

        • Phew! Thank goodness I said she was good then! *laughs* I did watch her play something a bit more cheerful and she looked a lot happier so you’re probably right. You shouldn’t do that! It might beat you back one day…

          I don’t know much about the Crusades really. Great costumes though – I think men should still wear chainmail and those dinky helmets! Playing it as in listening to it or on the guitar?? I haven’t got to the Rohan theme yet – I’m watching in installments. Somehow I seem to have lost the ability to watch nine hours worth all at once. But I shall listen out for it – Aragorn and the chaps are on their way to Rohan now. I may have to call you Boromir from now on, I think…

          • Well, I would’ve understood either way! You can rip her…bet she can take it! I only beat it in the name of music, you know.

            But…but…I bet chain mail was heavy to wear! Plus, I would’ve wanted a scimitar not a broadsword. Now, I just recorded it actually! With the love theme from Star Wars. It’s a good theme–Rohan’s. Let me know what you make of it.

            *laughing* I walked right into that…

            • Nah, I won’t rip her – I think she’s good! Plays with her heart. Well… OK… but don’t blame me if it takes revenge someday…

              I love that they used to need a kind of pulley thing to lift them onto their horses. Well, you could have chainmail and a scimitar! Start a new trend. Did the other side not have suits of armour then?

              Oooh, when will it appear? I can’t even imagine how you do these for guitar, and yet they always work! I should get there tomorrow, I think – if Argaorn would just stop flirting with Eowyn and get on with it! Can’t wait for the vid! *best Woola smile*

              *laughs* Into the tree…??

            • She does. Awesome player and lady. I just view it as a tree. So, I’m the one taking the revenge!

              Did they? I didn’t know that! *laughs* Well, the Saracens, since it was hot where they were, they didn’t wear too much armor. More like leather thingies, I think.

              It’s a strange one. Do hope you like it. It will be here Friday! Isn’t Eowyn your favorite? I think Aragorn should’ve went with her.

              *laughs* I better stop talking!

            • *laughs* It’s so unfair! Those pesky trees outnumber you by zillions – you’re so brave to take them all on!

              So I believe, but maybe it’s a load of old codswallop! Yeah I can’t imagine wearing all that stuff in the heat – I hope they had an adequate supply of ice-lollies.

              We shall see! *tough critical look* She is, but every time Aragorn flirts with her he starts day-dreaming about Arwen – and I can’t take her seriously anymore! Every time I look at her I see her dad in Polar Express and giggle… It’s all your fault!

              *laughs too* Wise!

            • But they can’t move! So, I’ve got that on my side.

              I don’t think they even had water! Just sand, mind you. Endless sand.

              Yeah…I’m not liking it either. At the minute. *laughs* That is Steve Tyler’s daughter, after all! Eowyn is nicer looking, in my opinion.

            • Unless they come from Fangorn! *shudders fearfully*

              I hope there were no sand-trouts! *shudders fearfully*

              Oh… you’re so self-critical! I shall be the judge! Poor girl! Well, yes, she is quite gorgeous, but… you shouldn’t be noticing that. You’re not going to flirt with her now, are you? *shudders fearfully*

            • I bet they’d like me, Fangorn trees. I’d just climb them a bit.

              Thank goodness no!

              Yes, please do. You’re a good judge of such things. *laughs* How could I possibly flirt with her?

            • I could imagine you sitting up in the branches with Merry and Pippin! So… indescribable!

              I shall be hovering impatiently by youtube… Humph noodles! I would put nothing past you, sir – you would find a way! I shall be watching the rest of the film very closely to make sure you don’t suddenly appear, carrying roses and a box of choccies…

            • *laughs* I would do that! I’d have a tree army. It’d be something, I’m thinking.

              I shall have it up soon…I’m hoping…definitely today. That’s not how I flirt, you should know. I’d probably want to duel her in a sword fight or something.

            • But somehow you seem to have morphed from Aragorn into a hobbit! I’m not totally convinced it’s an improvement… though furry feet are definitely a thing to be desired…

              Well worth the wait *huge smile*. She’d probably like that better… *grinds teeth and growls quietly*

            • No, not me! I desire you to have furry feet – that would be the finishing touch to your cuteness! You’re Gimli!

              She’s a fabulous heroine! And she didn’t look at Aragorn’s cute R.B. once! (And no, nor did I, before you ask…!!)

            • You want me to have furry feet? How interesting, dadblameit. Yes! With the beard, too.

              Well you must have, don’t you know! It never even crossed my mind. It could be ugly for all we know. But you obviously think it cute!

            • But then you’d have to dye your foot-hair to match your beard…

              Did not!! I’m just making an assumption based on… a mixture of hope and experience!

  9. Gosh. thought provoking stuff for a Monday indeed! My Spanish nephew used to live in Israel and met his lovely Jewish wife there – we went to their fantastic wedding in Sevilla a couple of months ago and met all her family. So, I have heard a lot about Israel recently. With that in mind it strikes me Donahaye was very brave indeed to challenge the “mythologised” history as handed down to her, and then write about it, knowing how her extended family would react to the book and most people in Israel. But what most fascinates me is how there was another side to her mother, which her mother had apparently chosen to hide from her. I know how that feels. My mother was German ( brought up in Hitler’s Germany in 30s and 40s) and came to Scotland after the end of WW2. She never talked about her life there. After she died I discovered diaries, letters etc about her early life which revealed shocking, tragic, sad stuff. Too long to go into here ( I can hear you sigh with relief!). The thing is I felt so angry with Mum for not telling me/us anything about these things that happend to her while she was alive. Betrayed even. It was like an emotional big slap in the chops and so I can empathise with Donahaye’s need to explore more and dig deep. At the end of my journey, however, i don’t lose my mother, instead I gained a new respect for her. Anyway, i just remembered The Mandelbaum Gate by Muriel Spark, which is set in Jerusalem in 1961 and explores the question of division and what it is to be Jewish … I’ve actually not read yet, can’t get into the writing at all but if you are interested in reading other books like this? Cheers 🙂

    • Indeed – I think it must have been very hard for her, and for her relatives, and I admire her for doing it. Especially since she didn’t go at all over the top, trying to make things out worse than they actually are. That must have been very hard for you, finding these things out when it was too late to discuss them with your mother. The whole aftereffects of WW2 really haven’t worked themselves out yet, have they? Still cast a cloud after all this time. But I reckon mothers are just so protective of their children they suppress anything that they think will upset them or make them feel different. I had a tiny experience of that too – nothing like yours or Donahaye’s, but growing up in Glasgow which at that time was still bitterly sectarian between Catholics and Protestants, my mother didn’t tell me she had grown up as a Catholic. I found out when I was 16 and it seemed so unimportant to me compared to the generation before, but when I asked her why she hadn’t told me she said it was so I wouldn’t get bullied at school – and she was probably right, I might well have been. (My father had a Protestant background and we went to Protestant schools.) But at least I got the chance to talk to her about it. And Jasmine Donahaye also got to talk about this to her mother – she was actually very moving about how her family reacted to the whole thing, neither side understanding the other, but still remaining family nonetheless.

      I’ll look into the Muriel Spark book – like you I’ve had problems enjoying her writing in the past with the notable exception of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, but I’ve really not given her a proper try for years.

  10. Sorry for this tardy response to your comment, Fan Fiction, your reply got gobbled up in the ether there for a while! Speaking as a mother, I think we do cover things up to protect our children and no wonder, but it’s not necessarily a good thing. And, yes, you are absolutely right, the aftereffects of WW2 still continue to work away through the generations. While my mum was very pragmatic and capable, she was also an insomniac and suffered from depression, which seems to have been as a direct result of her not being able to talk about or allowed to come to terms with the traumatic events of her early life. There’s also this thing called trans-generational memory, to do with parents subliminally passing on their suppressed grief and guilt (caused by unresolved emotional upheaval etc) to their children and in doing so passing on the pain. Thought provoking stuff. On a completely different note, it’s interesting you mention the Catholic/Protestant thing. I never thought it existed in Edinburgh until my dad, who was a welder, told me that when he worked in the shipyards it was assumed he was Catholic ( his name being Wheelaghan), which he was not. This sometimes helped him get work, and other times it didn’t! So, yes, I think your mum could have been right about you being bullied. Good luck with reading more Muriel Spark. I learned not so long ago that she and her son had fallen out big time over her “jewish” heritage. He criticised her for calling herself “half Jewish”, arguing that you cannot be half jewish – her grandmother was Jewish, therefore she was. But she had none of it. She certainly was a feisty woman.

    • Yes, coincidentally I saw a report on transgenerational effects of trauma just the other day – understandable I think, when we are so influenced by our parents. If their personalities have been affected by trauma then it would seem logical that we would pick up on some of that. Yes, I think the Catholic/Protestant thing is wore in the west of Scotland but it exists all over the country – much less so now thankfully. My mother changed the spelling of her name from the Catholic to the Protestant version, because Catholic girls couldn’t get office jobs in the mill – the big local employer – they were only allowed to work on the factory floor. Incredible to think that was only one generation ago…

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