________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 15 . . . .March 21, 2008

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Israel: the Land. (The Lands, Peoples, and Cultures Series).

Debbie Smith.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-9679-4 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-9311-3 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Israel-Description and travel-Juvenile literature.
Israel-History-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

   
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Israel: the Culture. (The Lands, Peoples, and Cultures Series).

Debbie Smith.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-9681-7 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-9313-7 (rlb.).

Subject Headings:
Israel-Civilization-Juvenile literature.
Israel-Social life and customs-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

   
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Israel: the People. (The Lands, Peoples, and Cultures Series).

Debbie Smith.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2008.
32 pp., pbk. & hc., $9.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (rlb.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-9680-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-9312-0 (rlb.).

Subject Heading:
Israel-Social conditions-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

   

excerpt:

Israel is a new nation with ancient roots. The State of Israel was founded in 1948, but people have lived on the land for thousands of years. Determined to survive in a harsh environment the people of Israel have created a home where they have prospered.... An Israeli breakfast is hearty and may include vegetables, olives, cheese, and sometimes even fish. For many people, lunch is the main meal of the day. They might eat a kabob, a special type of burger made with ground beef or lamb, or shishlik, meat marinated in garlic and oil, threaded onto skewers, and cooked on a barbecue. Lunch is not usually eaten until almost 3:00 p.m., after school is over for the day. Dinner is a lighter meal of salad or fish eaten after 7:00 p.m. (From Israel: the People.)

 

These three books on Israel are part of the "Lands, Peoples, and Cultures" series that has covered more than 30 countries. Each book focuses on specific content areas that combine to give the big picture about a single country. Each book elaborates on specific topics, making it difficult to do without the entire set, but there is a natural repetition of information found in the other books,

     Each book consists of fifteen 2-page chapters and concludes with a one-page glossary of bolded words and an index. Brightly coloured and various, both pictures and drawings punctuate the chapters, which have been divided into sections.

      Israel is a country much in the news. Its place in world history has made it both a centre of attention and a centre of contention by different religious and political interests. These disputes have resulted in, among the negative consequences, groups of people being displaced, political and physical skirmishes, suicide bombings and wars. And of course, these events have reverberated around the rest of the world.

      Palestine and the biblical Israel were the ancient homelands of the Palestinians, the Jews and other Arab peoples. Jews, who were dispersed from Israel nearly 2000 years before, had kept close the idea of returning to Jerusalem, the City of Gold and King David. Virulent anti-Semitism in 19th century Europe prompted the development of Zionism, the political movement that proposed the return of Jews to Israel. After the Nazis wiped out six million Jews in a deliberate campaign of genocide in World War II, the push to establish a Jewish homeland led to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. The land, the politics and the culture of the Middle East were forever altered.

      A land that had been populated by Palestinians and Arabs was now flooded with Jews of European heritage and later from other parts of the world. Land was seized, cities were established, kibbutzim (large co-operative farms) established and new forms of agriculture introduced. New educational and cultural institutions created a new identity of modern Israel. Palestinians by the millions were forced to leave for Arab countries; several generations later their descendants still live in refugee camps. Their unresolved demand for restoration of their lands and their own country is still a cause of tension and disruption in the region.

      These books record both the new and the old Israel, in that in some ways, the two worlds live side by side.

      Israe,l the Land outlines the geographic features of the country which resembles a sliver of land in between Asia and Africa. Israel has deserts and rich agricultural land, mountains and the lowest point on earth, the Dead Sea. The need for fresh water is enormous as the population grows in a generally arid climate.

      Many modern cities are built within or on the sites of historic antiquities which are an attraction for tourists, historians, anthropologists and the religious from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths.

      The desert was ‘greened’ when pioneer settlers began large-scale farming on kibbutzim and moshavs (small self-contained villages). Terracing hills and irrigating fields has turned Israel into an exporter of produce. Trees that had been cut down by a series of invading armies have been replanted; birdwatching is a national sport and wildlife is protected.

      Israel, the Culture offers information about the way Christians, Jews and Muslims live and carry out their various observances, including religious holidays and foods. A chapter outlines the art and architecture (old and new) and how people amuse themselves in their leisure time. The on-going conflict over the territory there affects the peace and security of the people and impacts on how life carries on.

      Israel, the People contains a chapter about the Biblical history of Israel. Jews claim they were forced to flee the region during the Roman Empire, but in the Diaspora maintained their commitment to return. Palestinians and Arabs contend they have also lived there since time immemorial and were wrongfully dislocated by the State of Israel. The book touches on this issue, which, despite the intervention of the world’s major powers over many decades, has never been solved. The different groups of people are outlined who make up the population – urban, rural, Bedouin and others - their daily habits and way of living, from school to leisure to eating habits and religious observances.

      This series can provide a student with a broad picture of life in Israel, along with a substantial amount of specific detail to satisfy their curiosity about how people live there.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.
 

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