Jenny Chaput

Hi Ofra,
I want to restate how much I enjoyed your book. I admire how you critique your own culture and society while still being very much absorbed in what is great about it, and how it can become greater. I don’t know if it’s easy for an average Israeli, often understandably on the defensive in different ways, physically or ideologically, to be as self-reflective as you have been.
As I’ve been watching the news these past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about the ideas in your book and how relevant and important they are. I hope you find your audience outside of Israel to be more receptive…
Your book occupies two distinct, though intertwined areas; that of personal experience, and that of critique. Specially, your critique seems to centre on power` that is, a small but powerful segment of society that places a virtual stronghold on the larger parts and certainly any efforts at peace and progressive change. However, what I think is the biggest strength of the book is how it critiques not simply the religious establishment but how that establishment and its values have crept into the consciousness of the average Israeli. To quote Virginia Woolf, the religious establishment is constantly “demanding sympathy” from the larger segments of the population, and you are asking the large, Secular masses to evaluate their values, to evaluate the myths they have been told, to look at the roots of Zionism, and how a very pure ideal, an honest desire has been corrupted.
I have to say your chapter on Herzl kept coming back to me, it certainly is not the most dramatic, but I find something quite captivating about early Zionism, and you presented that chapter with a certain fluidity I enjoyed very much. I also found the conclusion at the end of chapter two excellent. You state your ideas so clearly there, and provide a great foundation through which the reader can follow your line of thought. There is a wonderfully humorous element throughout, but you always come back to a well thought out, theoretical basis for your arguments.
Those are just a few instances among many; I found your personal reflection on your grandmothers also fascinating, as well as your anecdotes of your days as a journalist. Chapter nine was moving a wonderful combination of criticism, humour and warmth. I also found your use of quotes at the beginning of each chapter excellent…. I think you have something quite promising on your hands, and I hope it is recognized.
Yours truly,
January 2007
Jenny Chaput is studying literature in Vancouver and has kindly corrected many grammatical and other mistakes in the original manuscript.

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