Category Archives: Israel

“The Parting Gift” by Even Fallenberg— The Underside of Love

Fallenberg, Evan. “The Parting Gift”, Other Press, 2018.

The Underside of Love

Amos Lassen

There is something about a book by Evan Fallenberg that makes me realize what literature is all about. His two earlier books, “Light Fell” and “When We Danced on Water” mesmerized me and I knew that even before I opened the covers, the same would be true of “The Parting Gift”. I cleared my day, according to the advice of another reviewer and sat down and prepared to be lost in words and story and to be taken back to my second home in Israel.

“The Parting Gift” is an “erotic tale of jealousy, obsession, and revenge is suffused with the rich flavors and intoxicating scents of Israel’s Mediterranean coast.” The story is told by an unnamed narrator who writes to Adam, a friend from college. It so happens that Adam is sitting across the room from him as he writes. He has been staying at Adam’s since he abruptly came back to the States from Israel. He has decided that the time has come to move on and he shares with Adam how he came to get to him and that this was all the result of a coincidental encounter with Uzi, a spice merchant. His very first meeting with Uzi brought him to completely change his life and spend more time in the small village north of Tel Aviv. There was some kind of animal magnetism between the two men and as passion grew, the more the narrator became involved in not just Uzi’s life but also the life of Uzi’s ex-wife and children.

From his first meeting with Uzi, the narrator is overwhelmed by an animal attraction that will lead him to derail his life, withdraw from friends and extend his stay in a small town north of Tel Aviv. As he becomes increasingly entangled in Uzi’s life—and by extension the lives of Uzi’s ex-wife and children—his passion turns sinister, ultimately threatening all around him. 

Beneath the surface of the story, we explore how men assume or are forced to take on various roles and in this case we are speaking of the roles of lovers, fathers, Israelis, Palestinians. Just as these roles are often complex, so is our story. As we read, we look at ourselves and the roles we play and it should come as no surprise that there are roles that we would really rather not deal with but are forced into. Of course, there is lust and it should come as no surprise that the roles that sex and lust play in our daily lives is tremendous; they are both part of the human condition but it is man who decides how they are to be dealt with.

I cannot imagine how anyone can read this in pieces; it is a book that demands to be read straight through and then thought about afterwards. It is not enough that each page leads us to the next page but in Fallenberg’s gorgeous prose, each word leads us to the next word. I must admit that there were times when I almost shook from the profundity of what I read.

Here we find love’s underside to be brute sex between two men that makes us them and us to be selfless and selfish. Love can often be stubborn and even evil and while in love we often feel fear. Some may find this to be a new idea but I believe everyone ultimately will agree that this is true.

I see three distinct themes in “The Parting Gift”—sexuality, acceptance, and Middle Eastern culture. Everything seems to come out in the very long letter that the narrator writes. He explains what led up to his arrival. He had been visiting Tel Aviv with his friends when he met Uzi and was taken in immediately. He decides to leave his friends and stay with Uzi and the two become involved in an animalistic sexual relationship. Uzi invites the narrator into his home, to the surprise of his family, namely his ex-wife, who lives across nearby. But homosexuality is not important to Uzi’s family—their main concern is why this happened at the time it did. Uzi and the narrator lead a typical life and the narrator helps with the expansion of Uzi’s spice business. Everything goes well until Ibrahim, the son of a friend of Uzi, arrives to undertake an apprenticeship and brings jealousy, mistrust and resentment into the relationship of the two men. Feeling these, the narrator loses his mind. So perhaps the underside of love is heartbreak and not lust. The characters here have to deal with guilt and inadequacy and these feelings bring about their downfalls.

There is something naughty about reading someone else’s mail and this novel is written in the form of Adam’s letter and it punches us hard with the very first sentence. The story becomes complicated as we read about codes of honor and familial expectation as they hit business and acceptance, family and lovers, and self-realization head-on.

“OPERATION FINALE”— Finding Eichmann

“Operation Finale”

Finding Eichmann

Amos Lassen

Fifteen years after World War II, a team of secret agents comes together to track down Adolf Eichmann, the infamous Nazi architect of the Holocaust. It was Eichmann who organized the transport of Jews from countries all over Europe to concentration camps where millions were murdered. After the war, he fled to his home country of Austria and then moved to Argentina. The Israeli intelligence agency Mossad uncovered the whereabouts of the infamous Nazi in 1960, and teams of Mossad and Shin Bet agents staged a raid to capture the war criminal and brought him to Israel to face crimes against humanity and the Jewish people. He was sentenced to hang and was executed in 1962 and remained unrepentant all the way to noose. This is the story of the manhunt for one of the most diabolical war criminals of the 20th century.

Ben Kingsley plays Eichmann and Oscar Isaac is Peter Malkin, the Mossad member and head of a group of Israeli spies who took him down. Eichmann had murdered Malkin’s sister and her children so he had his own personal interest in capturing the man. He was sentenced and executed by hanging. Writer, humanitarian and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal was instrumental in finding the location of Eichmann. The reaction of the world to the entire affair was as different as can be imagined and debates took place about Israel’s right to extradite and try the man for crimes against humanity. Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” and her theory of the banality of evil both hurt and helped her career as a political philosopher and perhaps even tarnished her reputation as one of the most brilliant minds of the twentieth century.

In the newly released trailer, we see Eichmann supervising the mass murder of hundreds of concentration camp prisoners, then defending his actions in a voiceover,  “You have no interest in what I have to say,” he says. “Unless it confirms what you think you already know. My job was simple: save the country I love from being destroyed. Is your job any different?”

Chris Weitz directed the drama from Matthew Orton’s screenplay about the capture of Eichmann, who organized the transport of Jews from all over Europe to concentration camps, where an estimated 6 million people were killed.

In the same trailer, Isaac’s Peter Malkin is warned,” If you succeed, for the first time in our history, we will judge our executioner… If you fail, he escapes justice, perhaps forever. I beg of you, do not fail.”

The film also stars Lior Raz, Melanie Laurent, Nick Kroll, Joe Alwyn, Haley Lu Richardson, Michael Aronov, Ohad Knoller, Greg Hill, Torben Liebrecht, Mike Hernandez, Greta Scacchi and Pêpê Rapazote. “Operation Finale” opens in theaters on August 24, 2018.

“THE OSLO DIARIES”— Trying for Peace

“THE OSLO DIARIES”

Trying for Peace

Amos Lassen

 The Oslo accords eventually allowed for the recognition of the Palestinian authority over the West Bank and Gaza and this was certainly a consequential conclusion. Directors Mor Loushy and Daniel make sense of both the political realities of the talks and how they were received outside the rooms where negotiations took place. This documentary film is an excellent introduction to a much larger conversation, and while it avoids as many subjects as it addresses, it documents a time when peace, so complicated in this region, might have taken place.

In 1993 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO leader Yasser Arafat shook hands on an agreement that began a way for Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace. The peace agreement was called the Oslo Accords after the place where the negotiations were held. The accords took place in 1990s, a time when Mideast peace was tantalizingly close at hand. The film is a sentimental look back at what could have been for Israel and Palestine. Using extensive footage from that time period, “The Oslo Diaries” is an emotional look at what might have been.. The film also includes re-enactments of the meetings in Oslo with actors who look remarkably like their real-life counterparts. They impersonate the Israelis and Palestinians who participated in negotiating the accords. While that fictionalizing approach gives the documentary certain energy, it also adds a modicum of confusion. What works more effectively is the way the film uses voiceovers and diary excerpts from the actual players involved in the peace negotiations.

What ultimately emerges is that both Israelis and Palestinians must live with the fact that the Accords have come to represent a missed opportunity. We see newsreel footage of upsetting moments like when Rabin was shouted down for his attempts to make peace. There is also the intense rally in which Benjamin Netanyahu did not stop demonstrators from screaming, “Death to Rabin.” We see footage of the peace rally in which Rabin was assassinated. Minutes before his death, he publicly sang a song for peace with his friend and lieutenant Shimon Peres.

Twenty-five years later, many of the surviving figures of the negotiations are close friends. The filmmakers successfully show the political contrast between Rabin and Netanyahu, who became Israel’s prime minister in 1996 by the slimmest of margins. There’s a profound lesson to be learned here in this important and depressing film.

Loushy and Sivan begin in 1992, during the violent intifada that threatened to topple Rabin’s government. Two Israeli academics, Ron Pundak and Yair Hirschfeld who are committed to the cause of peace but unaffiliated with the state were dispatched to Oslo, Norway, by then Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beili, for secret negotiations with members of the PLO, including Arafat confidante Abu Ala (Ahmed Ali Mohammed Qurei). We hear their own words spoken, read from their diaries and see them in action. We are behind the scenes of history, and it is fascinating. The most severe disagreements focus on the land – who gets to live where – and the status of Jerusalem. This is not an easy conversation.

Soon, word leaks out about the clandestine meetings, and so Rabin has no choice but to send official government representatives. Chief Israeli negotiator Uri Savir meets with Abu Ala and a new member of the Palestinian team, Nabil Shaath. We hear their diaries are read. Some of the surviving participants appear in recently filmed talking-head interviews, including Shimon Peres, himself (though he died in 2016, so this was his last interview). There was a notable lack of women in the but Palestinian activist and legislator Hanan Ashrawi still makes her presence felt (even if she was not a fan of the eventual accords, feeling that they gave too much away to Israel). The film is an excellent and powerful close examination of a painful process that led to the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords. and subsequent Oslo II in 1995. Sadly and unfortunately the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995 derailed everything.

The most effective part of “The Oslo Diaries” is how it reveals the forces aligned against the peace process, particularly on the Israeli side, where Benjamin Netanyahu openly waited for more violence to erupt so he could swoop in as savior and take over. Whether or not he actively wished for Rabin’s death or just didn’t see how his followers’ chants for that death created the vitriolic climate that led to it, Netanyahu was very much opposed to any land concessions to the Palestinians, and when he became Prime Minister, in 1996, with 50.4% of the vote, the peace process effectively died, as well.

A title card at the end of the movie informs the viewer that 16,000 people – Jews and Palestinians – have died since 1996, and the situation in the region today is far from good. The film shines a light on the choices of both sides, and is clearly in favor of Israel. The film leaves the viewer frustrated, but maybe it will give that same viewer hope that such a process can begin again.

“A Queer Way Out: The Politics of Queer Emigration from Israel” by Hila Amit— Queer Resistance to Zionism

Amit, Hila. “A Queer Way Out: The Politics of Queer Emigration from Israel”, SUNY Press, 2018.

Queer Resistance to Zionism

Amos Lassen

Hila Amit’s “A Queer Way Out” greatly interests me in that I am one of those who left Israel but I do not fit her formula that “queer Israeli emigrants interact in a intentionally unheroic type of resistance to Zionism.” I do not believe that leaving Israel is an abandonment of Zionist ideas. According to Amit, “

the very language of Zionism prizes the idea that of immigration to Israel (aliyah, actually ascending) whereas stigmatizing emigration from Israel (yerida, descending).” There is no question about Zionism favoring immigration to Israel but I am just not sure that leaving the country is regarded so negatively, although I do remember a time when emigration was a “dirty” word.

Hila Amit explores the stories of queer Israeli emigrants. She looks at the reasons for leaving Israel as well as the feelings of those who left and who are no longer a part of Israel. She shows that both sexual orientation and left-wing political association play important roles in determining to leave the country but I must say that sexual orientation as a reason by itself is not nearly the reason that it once was before the year 2000. Today there s a large and vibrant LGBT community in the country but basically centered in Tel Aviv. We especially saw the power of the community when it led a countrywide strike as a protest to the country’s new surrogacy law. It is estimated that 100,000 people participated in the strike.

Amit attempts to show that emigration itself is not just a political act but one that “pioneers a intentionally unheroic type of resistance to Zionist ideology.” The study “explores the activities of (as well as the discourse used by) queer Israeli emigrants, before, during, and after departure.” The research here investigates the connections between the Israeli collective and its outcasts, and between social exclusion and departure. Amit argues that queer Israeli emigrants, in their decision to depart, undermine Zionist ideology, and therefore change the obvious paths of resistance to Zionism. By being away from the physical territory of Israel, “they avoid the Zionist demand to perform as strong, masculine Sabras.” She goes on to add that

“emigration is subversive in that it symbolizes a refusal to answer Zionism in the currency of heroism and active resistance.” Amit claims that the decision to leave comes from one acknowledging his own vulnerability and “the recognition that they can no longer tolerate the hardship of life offered to them in Israel.” By one’s announcing of personal vulnerability the system is weakened. “In their passivity and unheroic behavior, emigrants threaten to undermine the entire Zionist project.”

It all sounds very nice and Amit has indeed done excellent research.. However, I agree with very little here and I am sure that my group of Israeli gay friends living in America will have a greet deal to say about what is written here. Yes perhaps my American Zionism is different than what my Israeli Zionism would be (and still is) but even living somewhere else, my Zionist feelings are very, very strong. Nonetheless, this is a fascinating read.

“My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace” by Ehud Barak— A Memoir

Barak, Ehud. “My Country, My Life: Fighting for Israel, Searching for Peace”, St. Martin’s, 2018.

A Memoir

Amos Lassen

“My Country, My Life” is the definitive memoir of one of Israel’s most influential soldier-statesmen and one-time Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, with insights into forging peace in the Middle East.

In the summer of 2000, Ehud Barak set himself a challenge: to secure a final peace with the Palestinians. He would propose two states for two peoples, with a shared capital in Jerusalem. He knew the risks of failure. But he also knew the risks of not trying and this was perhaps the last chance for a generation to secure genuine peace and it was a moment of truth.

Born on a kibbutz, Barak became commander of Israel’s elite Special Forces, then army Chief of Staff, and ultimately, Prime Minister. His story is the story of Israel’s first seventy years and he shares its major successes and its setbacks and misjudgments. He offers candid assessments of his fellow Israeli politicians, of the American administrations with which he worked, and of himself. He also presents a powerful warning: “Israel is at a crossroads, threatened by events beyond its borders and by divisions within. The two-state solution is more urgent than ever, not just for the Palestinians, but also for the existential interests of Israel itself. Only by rediscovering the twin pillars on which it was built (military strength and moral purpose) can Israel thrive.”

This is a detailed picture of a man who has lived a full life. For the past twenty years, Barak has played a significant role in the Israeli government, and he has valuable insights into that country’s domestic policies. He gives us a wonderful resource for understanding Israel’s recent history.

We feel Barak’s love of Israel on every page and because of this his warnings about the country’s future as a Jewish and democratic state are powerful, urgent, and real. He is a warrior/statesman whose honesty shows how much he cares.

Barak describes his missions for Israel’s toughest commando unit with the passion of a born soldier and the most poignant parts of this book describe Barak’s unsuccessful struggle as prime minister to forge a peace deal with the PLO’s Yasser Arafat. He must have believed that the Palestinians share similar principles as his for making peace with their neighbors.

This is a must read for “anyone who has interest in the Middle East, the Palestinians, and the rise of Israel from a dream to a high-tech and military tower of power.”

“The Two-Plate Solution: A Novel of Culinary Mayhem in the Middle East” by Jeff Oliver— Great Title, Fun Read

Oliver, Jeff. “The Two-Plate Solution: A Novel of Culinary Mayhem in the Middle East”, Bancroft Press, 2018.

Great Title, Fun Read

Amos Lassen

The Two-Plate Solution begins with a James Beard award-winning chef standing on top of a diving platform after just winning a competition and when he looks down, he faints (he is afraid of heights) and as he falls into the water, he knocks his winning plate over. What follows is a high stakes cooking competition with a diverse cast of young talented chefs in Israel. They have culinary foes: fake “terrorists” that were brought in by the producers. But then some actual terrorists show up on set, and the producers must scramble to either integrate them into the show, or risk being killed.

As the chefs cook for their lives, we have romances and mysteries, humor and wit. This is an outrageous look at the inner workings of reality TV set against unlikely backdrop. Writer Jeff Oliver has given us a guide to terrorism, gastronomy and keeps us laughing. The comedy is both

light-hearted and very dark satire as it relates to reality TV and the state of the Middle East conflict as well as the power of cooking, food, and togetherness. The colorful cast of characters features opportunistic food critics and cowboys, an IDF-fighter-turned-TV producer and fake, suspected, and possibly real terrorists. Then there is the Halva Queen of Eilad and a victim of Israeli occupation who turns cooking into an art of healing.

The satirical approach to the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict and network television is great fun. The story begins with Sara Sinek, a show runner at an American cooking competition program called National Dish-aster. They’re filming in Israel, and someone at the network thinks it would be a great plot-twist to bring in fake terrorists to up the stakes. The only problem is, a group of Palestinians who have been accused by Israeli authorities of a deadly terrorist attack crash the set, and hold everyone hostage for real.

The book moves forward rapidly with twists and turns and many characters and nobody is who they seem. The novel gives us the Palestinian/Israeli conflict as a violent mess but it also stresses things that bring us together. The final twist at the end of the book is difficult to follow. It’s not clear  who double-crossed whom and when.

“Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered: One Woman’s Year in the Heart of the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem” by Sarah Tuttle-Singer— Exploring Jerusalem

Tuttle-Singer, Sarah. “Jerusalem, Drawn and Quartered: One Woman’s Year in the Heart of the Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish Quarters of Old Jerusalem”, Skyhorse Publishing, 2018.

Exploring Jerusalem

Amos Lassen

Sarah Tuttle-Singer lives in Jerusalem within the Old City’s walls, right at the heart of the four quarters: Christian, Muslim, Armenian, and Jewish. The Old city is a piece of spiritual real estate and over time

empires have clashed and crumbled over it. Today, the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians plays out daily the streets. But Jerusalem is a regular city as well and the ancient stones run with blood. But it’s also an ordinary city, where people buy groceries, raise children and spend their lives.

Time is measured in Sabbath sunsets and morning bells and calls to prayer, in stabbing attacks and in check points and keeping the holidays in each quarter and sharing the stories that make Jerusalem so special, and so exquisitely ordinary.

If you have ever wondered who really lives in Israel and how they do, then this is a book for you. It combines the personal and political, “the heartwarming and the heart-stopping”. The Old City of Jerusalem is set in stone, but it’s always changing.

Tuttle-Singer’s voice sends out chills and kisses as she her city. She tells of the complexity of loving a city that is so embattled, so diverse, and so difficult. This is her Jerusalem love letter and “a declaration of frustration; a poem and a song; a masterpiece of confusion and undying affection.” She brings us Jerusalem in “all its ugliness and beauty, darkness and light, bad and good” and she does so with the honest, funny, and sad stories of her life and of the city”.

“On the Road and Off the Record with Leonard Bernstein: My Years with the Exasperating Genius” by Charlie Harmon— Day-to-Day with Lenny

Harmon, Charlie. “On the Road and Off the Record with Leonard Bernstein: My Years with the Exasperating Genius”, Imagine Books, 2018.

Day-to-Day with Lenny

Amos Lassen

With this year being what would have been the 100th birthday of Leonard Bernstein we have had a large number of books about him being published although every year there seems to be a new “definitive” biography of the maestro. In “On the Road…”, Charlie Harmon makes no such claim as this is not a biography but rather a fascinating look at a fascinating man and it is a fun read. There is also a bonus foreword by Broadway legend Harold Prince.

I met Lenny several times while I was living in Israel and sure enough Harmon captured him beautifully and brought back memories of the penthouse at the Tel Aviv Hilton.

Harmon’s job was twofold— he was hired to manage the day-to-day activities of Bernstein’s life and to make sure Bernstein met the deadline for an opera commission. That deadline was consistently being disturbed by things kept getting in the way such as “the centenary of Igor Stravinsky, intestinal parasites picked up in Mexico, teaching all summer in Los Angeles, a baker’s dozen of young men, plus depression, exhaustion, insomnia, and cut-throat games of anagrams.” That sentence alone should give you an idea of what this book is all about. It is very obviously not a doctoral dissertation but then dissertations are rarely fun to read.

Harmon saw Bernstein everyday for four years and during that time he was Bernstein’s social director, gatekeeper, valet, music copyist, and itinerant orchestra librarian. He was an active participant in his boss’s life and did everything from packing and unpacking suitcases to making sure Bernstein got to concerts on time, made plane connections and knew how to speak to luminaries. There was always music as well (as if that is not the main reason for the adoration of Bernstein).

You are probably wondering whether this book is gossip and I must say that it is, indeed. However, it is not malicious and harmful gossip, rather it is a series of anecdotes that come together to give us a great musician. Now I love gossip as much as the next person and I have my own Bernstein stories that I will never share so I must read other’s stories instead and what I find amazing is that they all sound pretty-much alike.

But it is not all gossip. Bernstein was a superstar and so we have to expect some gossip and of course, we have expected someone to tell these stories. I am glad that it is Harmon that does because his writing is so clear He was just 30 when he got the job after a three hour interview and was not sure that he was not sure he could handle the job. He felt sure he could deal with handling phone calls, mail, and appointments but the packing and unpacking many suitcases for every trip; taking notes during rehearsals and performances; and making sure that Bernstein did not generate negative publicity might have been beyond him. Nonetheless, reservations and all, in 1982, Harmon set off with Bernstein and his entourage to Indiana University for a six-week residency, during which his boss began work on an opera. This was just four years after the death of LB’s wife, Felicia, and he was demanding, impatient, and given to “bouts of fury and bratty behavior.” Harmon figured that Bernstein was still grieving over his wife’s death. Then there was also the Bernstein entourage that included a large and sometimes-divisive cast of characters. Harmon shares that LB was a cruel bully and he drove Harmon to seek help. Yet, on the other hand, Harmon admits that his intimacy with LB’s musicianship gave him “a remarkable education.” So what we have here is salacious gossip about and insight into Leonard Bernstein’s later-life artistry. Be prepared for the name-dropping.

Most of us do not realize what being Leonard Bernstein meant. His schedule was unbelievable and when Harmon was with him, LB was already in his 60s. With all that went on between the two men, Harmon held and still holds great respect and love for Bernstein. You will not find a narrative or a plot here since this book is primarily a collection of stories, I must also compliment Harmon for not mentioning the negatives he had to deal with. He really does not criticize and he had many reasons to do so. He does write about several drunken episodes and other inappropriate behavior but I had the feeling that he knew so much more and just looked the other way. As far as Bernstein’s sexual relationships with other men, there were no real secrets. As far as the Dexedrine use getting out of control, Harmon says that it seemed “like a sensible way to get everything done.” Bernstein’s affairs with various men were never serious and actually took place as “passing asides.” In the epilogue, Harmon says people have asked him if LB was gay and she says he answered ambiguously because it is a non-issue. (Do not share that with the boys in the park in Tel Aviv. I can remember all too well often hearing “Lenny’s back, you know what to do”.

Harmon gives us a man who loved music and loved teaching. He gave of himself to students and if one thing stands out about him it is that he cared. Ultimately, Harmon resigned as personal assistant yet he continued to work for Bernstein as his archivist and editing Bernstein’s scores after his death.

“Only Yesterday: A Novel” by S.Y. Agnon— Reconstructing History

Agnon. S.Y. “Only Yesterday: A Novel”, Translated by Barbara Harshav, Princeton University Press, 2018.

Reconstructing History

Amos Lassen

When Israeli Nobel Laureate S. Y. Agnon published “Only Yesterday” in 1945, it was considered a major work of world literature and not just because of its vivid historical reconstruction of Israel’s founding society. The book tells what, at first, seems to be a simple story about a man who immigrates to Palestine with the Second Aliyah (the several hundred idealists who returned between 1904 and 1914 to work the Hebrew soil as was done in Biblical times and revive Hebrew culture). “Only Yesterday” is an epic novel that engages the reader in a stunning series of meanings, contradictions, and paradoxes all leading to the question of what, if anything, controls human existence?

Isaac Kumer was seduced by Zionist slogans causing him to think of the land of Israel as a place filled with the financial, social, and erotic life that he as the son of a poor shopkeeper in Poland. would never know. Upon arriving there, however, he cannot find the agricultural work he anticipated. Instead Isaac finds house-painting jobs as he moves from secular, Zionist Jaffa, where the ideological fervor and sexual freedom are alien to him, to ultra-orthodox, anti-Zionist Jerusalem. Some of his Zionist friends turn capitalist and become successful merchants but his own life doesn’t change and he stays adrift and impoverished in a land torn existing between idealism and practicality, a place that is at once homeland and Diaspora. Eventually he marries a religious woman in Jerusalem after his worldly girlfriend in Jaffa rejects him.

It is very easy to see the Kafkaesque surrealism of the text about a man who is led astray by circumstances beyond his control. Playfully Isaac drips paint on a stray dog and writes the words “Crazy Dog” with it. The dog causes panic wherever it goes and ultimately takes over the story until the dog goes crazy after having been persecuted and not understanding why and bites Isaac. The dog has been the object of interpretation since original publication and has been seen as everything “from the embodiment of Exile to a daemonic force, and becomes an unforgettable character in a book about the death of God, the deception of discourse, the power of suppressed eroticism, and the destiny of a people depicted in all its darkness and promise.”

This is considered Agnon’s masterpiece and has a claim to being the great Israeli novel.” It is filled with ancient religious longing, modern political aspirations, and personal dreams of liberation and is a work of originality.

“Only Yesterday” (“Tmol Shilshom”) was written in Palestine under British Mandatory rule in the late 1930s, finished in 1943 during World War II, and published after the war in 1945.

“FRACTURES”— Israeli “Me Too”

“FRACTURES”

Israeli “Me Too”

Amos Lassen

A first cinematic outcome of the “Me too” campaign: Oded, a renowned professor and research scientist,is on his way to receive a prestigious award, accompanied by his wife Merav. Unexpectedly the police call and ask him to stop by to answer a few questions. In an instant their world crumbles.

  

Noa, one of Oded’s undergraduate students, has accused him of sexual coercion. In a confrontation with Noa Oded denies any romantic liaison but when faced with evidence, and on the advice  of the family attorney, he confesses to lying about their affair.

At the police station there is a harsh reckoning between Oded and Merav. The media reports the story and the shaming in the social networks hits hard. When Oded and Merav’s youngest son gets wind of the situation he demands explanations.

 Noa must confront her mother, who demands that she coverup the whole business and Merav, who pressures her to stop the disaster. The film takes place during a single day when the family’s life comes apart.  Merav maneuvers between her anger at Oded, who she accuses of ignoring her for their entire relationship, and her instincts to protect her family. She stands by Oded but knows that their lives will never be the same.