The first step is gathering lay people and educators who believe the story of Israel is one worth telling. What then are the steps necessary for endowing the future of American Jewry with a compelling and germane understanding of modern Israel?
I have a colleague at the University of Toronto who teaches a course called “How to Lie With Maps.” Supporters of Israel might well suggest as required reading for this course Palestinian maps that show a unitary Palestine from the Mediterranean to the Jordan, with no sign of Israel’s existence. Yet Israeli maps, and those produced by and for Diaspora Jews, rarely mark the Green Line that constitutes the country’s internationally recognized borders.
Few recent issues touching on Jewish life have been as contentious as how to teach Israel on the American college campus. Teaching Israel touches on an array of controversial subjects — the convergence of identity issues in teaching Israel, and how to do so in a scholarly and dispassionate manner, the conflict of Israel and the Palestinians, and the impact of the Jewish communal agenda on a discipline whose faculty positions are heavily communally funded. Sh’ma asked Ilan Troen, Ronald Zweig, and Yael Zerubavel—leading scholars in the area of Israel Studies— to talk about how they’ve confronted these and other issues and what might challenge the field in the near future.
After much soul-searching and polling among my friends, I came up with a title for my book on wife beating: Silence is Deadly.
How is your identity as an American Jew tied to the State of Israel? Can a reimagining of the teaching of Israel recreate a new Zionism for the 21st century? Why have many millions of dollars been spent to send young Jews to Israel? Does a trip to Israel definitively instill something in a young