The Newsletter of Fig Tree Books LLC
September, 2020: Issue #10
Fredric D. Price, Founder & Publisher
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JEWS OF DIFFERENT HUES: My mom is white and my dad is black. Don’t call me a ‘Jew of Color.

"As a biracial Jew, there is an expectation that I must have something to say in this historic moment. Unlike at any other time in my life, people are treating my opinion as though it deserves a stage, or a glass case for passersby to take in as they walk through a new exhibition on the lives of various Jews of Color. 

When I tell people that I do not have much to say about my experience as a “Jew of Color,” I see faces drop just a smidge. I sense that people want to hear about the time I was rejected because of the color of my skin, or when I was sitting in services at a synagogue and somebody came up and asked what inspired a nice non-Jewish girl like me to visit a synagogue, unaware of the fact that I am an observant Jew." 
THINKING OF STARTING A BOOK CLUB? Here are some ideas

No two book clubs are alike. Each has its own flavor, its own personality. There’s no “right” way to run your book club. But these suggestions might give you some ideas to help your book club develop a unique life of its own, one that will enrich the lives of all its members.

Why a book club?

This is the most important question to ask yourself, whether you already have a book club or you’re just starting one. Why? The answer to this question will direct every other decision you make, from the people you invite to participate to the books you read.

Is your goal to bond with the other members? Or do you have a particular theme in mind? Maybe you want to learn something new, or grow as a person? Determine your why, and make all of your other decisions based on that.
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Send your Q & A to Info@FigTreeBooks.net.

Q. Why are so many North American Jews ignorant about the Israel-Palestine situation?

A. Peter Beinart’s article in The New York Times of July 8, 2020 (https://nyti.ms/3h6MaZa) lit up the Internet with comments, and sucked in people such as the actor Seth Rogen to chime in with remarks that I can only characterize as silly and immature. I’m not going to dwell on Beinart’s premise — that there should be a so-called ‘one state’ solution to the Israel-Palestine situation. The amount of ignorance surrounding this issue is breathtaking. It’s as if none of the talking heads knows anything about the history of the conflict or the current views of the official charters and pronouncements of Hamas and the PA, to say nothing of their rejections of multiple peace plans or refusals to enter into good faith negotiations or of the calumnies and vitriol that stem from their textbooks and press releases about Jews and Israel. 

All of these facts are well-known and codified in superbly researched articles by members of the Jewish and Israeli press. That they are ignored, willfully, in the vain attempt to paint a kumbaya picture of a state shared by two peoples is intellectually dishonest. And my view is that the Peter Beinarts of the world know this. About the Seth Rogens of the world? I actually don’t think they have a clue. They hide behind silly mantras such as we millennials view things differently … which would be less offensive if the differences were grounded in reality (i.e., a deep analytical dive into the intricacies of the issues). Unfortunately, they’re not, and the smugness of such folks who haven’t spent an iota of time really understanding the complex issues (or living in Israel and seeing for their own eyes) at hand is head-spinning, to stay the least. Does anyone actually care what a Seth Rogen has to say about Israel? In legal terms, he and his cohorts have no standing. And shouldn’t have. 

Do you think he is going to weigh in on the massacre of the Rohingas? The attempted destruction of the Uighurs? The 5 million displaced in Syria? And others to numerous to mention? Hardly likely. 

You see, unfortunately, many Jews such as Rogen believe that because they are (in many cases) nominally Jewish that they have the right to weigh in on meaty issues that concern Israel. The only people listening to them are others of their ilk, and that eventually turns into a full circle firing squad. The bottom line is that Israel as a state is not going to wrap itself into a fetal position to nurse at the breast of know-nothings to go along with their inane criticisms. 

Are the policies of the current Israeli administration perfect? No. Can things be done to improve the lives of non-Jews in Israel and territories they control? Absolutely. But these issues will be solved by the participants who live there now, and who will continue to live there long after the Beinarts and Rogens are out of the picture. You see, many Israelis hold these people in contempt (or see them foolish or naive) or at the least see them as unnecessary and unhelpful. 

The Peter Beinarts of America — you want to help? Go to Israel for 6 months (not for a weekend), speak with Israelis and Palestinians of all stripes, and do so while having your political baggage remain at home. Have your clothes checked at customs but leave your prejudices with your friends in the U.S. Ask the hard questions, and make sure you dig relentlessly deeper and fact check so you’re not fooled by superficial public relations spins. Then, if you want to go home and write about any of this, do so from some experience, but don’t filter out those facts that don’t fit a preconceived narrative. The Seth Rogens? Don’t bother to go. You don’t have the chops to grasp what’s beyond the headlines. 
MY JEWISH YEAR: Prepping for Rosh Hashanah

"The instruction manual from the  Israeli company that shipped my shofar (the trumpet made from a ram’s horn, blasted during the Jewish New Year) says the blowing technique can be learned by “filling your mouth with water. You then make a small opening at the right side of your mouth, and blow out the water with a strong pressure. You must practice this again and again until you can blow the water about four feet away.”