Monday, January 05, 2009

Marc Aronson's Unsettled


SHOW NOTES:

Marc Aronson is an editor, a publisher, and an author of historical nonfiction for young people. He writes the "Nonfiction Matters" column in School Library Journal, and also hosts the Nonfiction Matters blog on the SLJ website. I met up with Marc at the 2008 School Library Journal Leadership Summit in Hollywood, Florida to talk about his latest and perhaps most controversial book, Unsettled: The Problem of Loving Israel. We had such an interesting conversation that I hardly edited the recording at all. I hope you'll find meeting Marc as fascinating as I did. Please feel free to join our conversation by posting comments here on The Book of Life website.

As an added bonus, scroll down to see a video created by Amy Bowllan of School Library Journal's Bowllan's Blog, showing highlights of Marc Aronson's visit to her own school to discuss his books.


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CREDITS:

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5 comments:

Rita Soltan said...

Thank you Heidi for this. I met Marc several years ago and am even more impressed with him now. Thank you for bringing this very important conversation to the forefront with your blog. He has truly created a way to open an honest discussion about a subject that is painful and difficult for everyone. I especially loved your questions...they were right on target..and his answers were very poignant. I especially loved his last answer with Obama's race speech and how a love letter or love speech tells the truth.

Best regards, Rita

Robin Winning said...

Hi Heidi,

I want to compliment you on your most recent podcast, the interview with Marc Aronson. It was really interesting and thought-provoking. I appreciate you taking on a somewhat controversial topic: the idea that questioning the actions of Israel is tantamount to being anti-Semitic. That notion has always driven me crazy, but it's very prevalent in the circles in which I travel as a member of a Conservative congregation. I feel like you gave Mr. Aronson a fair and balanced interview.

I've listened to the Book of Life from the start. I have subscribed to and then unsubscribed from more Jewish-themed podcasts than you can shake a stick at, but the Book of Life continues to hold my interest.

Thanks for all your hard work.

Regards,
Robin

Jean Marzollo said...

That was so interesting! I liked everything Marc Aronson said, especially his loving attitude toward Israel (but couldn't live there), and I especially like his feeling that kids can think these issues through, as well as adults. I would imagine that high school kids would really appreciate the opportunity to listen to this.
Thanks, Heidi! Good work!

Jean Marzollo

Steven Bernstein said...

Marc Aronson made a comparison between the United States and Israel with regard to their both being nations founded on ideals. Where they contrast, he said, is in America's ability to engage with sordid moments in its history and Israel's inability to do so. I would argue that as much as they share in common, the United States and Israel are quite disparate. While the legitimacy of the United States' right to exist as a sovereign nation is an unquestioned given, Israel's right to exist is constantly challenged through allegations of human rights abuses and other such propoganda. Engagement of the type that Marc Aaronson has described is a luxury that cannot be enjoyed in Israel, which must devote itself to "wrestling" with its foreign attackers before it begins to "wrestle" with self-criticism.

Steven Bernstein said...

Using the example of Barack Obama, Marc Aronson asks the question of whether Israelis would ever be able to picture an Arab--Muslim or Christian--as Prime Minister of the State of Israel. That the answer to this question is a resounding "no" seems to bother him. This illustrates another example of how Marc Aronson does not understand the fundamental differences between the State of Israel and the United States of America. Americans are--for the most part--quite comfortable with a person of any background assuming the role of their President because this land is--as Woodie Guthrie put it--"your land, this land is my land". While the nation was founded BY Protestants, it wasn't founded FOR Protestants alone. Israel was founded under quite a different model. It was founded as a national sanctuary BY AND FOR Jews. The Jewish character of the State of Israel is an indespensible part of its reason for being. While being a Jewish State does not exclude the rights of non-Jews to live in Israel, it most likely excludes their practical right in the eys of Israeli Jews to assume positions as high as Prime Minister.

Responding to a point that Mr. Aronson made earlier in the intervew with regard to the United States and Israel both being nations founded on ideals and not because some king or royal family happened to be here 700 years ago. His analysis is a bit off. Israel has its roots in a regal dynasty that began thousands of years ago. While today it is a democratic nation founded on ideals, it was originally founded as a monarchy.