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Adventure, travel and excitement are what many people live for, however getting away and exploring the world can be as simple as turning the pages of a book, with the added bonus of getting to enjoy the comforts of home.
JCC Rockland is hosting a variety of authors at its annual book festival whose stories will dazzle and amaze as they take the reader from Vietnam to Israel and cover a myriad of topics. The best part is not only do you have an opportunity to live vicariously through the author’s experience, but showing up allows you to ask them questions live in person. The book fest begins On Wednesday, Nov. 3 and continues through Thursday, Nov. 18 with all events taking place at the JCC, 450 West Nyack Rd., West Nyack. The festival, now in its 7th year, is sponsored by Linda and Jim Gerstley and Advanced Radiation Oncology Services at Nyack Hospital. Sponsorship opportunities are still available.
Martin Fletcher will be discussing his new book, “Walking Israel” on Tueday, Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. It is his personal search for the soul of a nation, and on his journey of walking the 100 mile coast of Israel from Lebanon to Gaza; he discovers hidden treasures in both people and places.
|“Sweet Dates of Basra” offers a positive take on Muslim-Jewish relations.|
Fletcher, who has appeared on television thousands of times, has spent years reporting about the Arab- Israeli conflict, yet, his multifaceted book shows the unspoken Israel; a mosaic of people, places and personalities, and this time, it’s from his own perspective.
He exposes more than just sound bites, snippets of a conflict situation, rather he shows the people of Israel, Arabs and Israeli’s and gives them a face, a voice, and shares their stories in a unique way, a human one.
In our interview via Skype, Fletcher was in London on assignment for NBC.
He explained his decision to write about Israel, “I wanted to write books and being in Israel so long, I had to write about Israel, it’s not about the wars with Arabs, but about the Israel people don’t know so well. Israel has been good to me, I love the place, and I wanted to do a book that reflected that. All the books out there are about the conflict, but there is more to Israel.”
Fletcher, who has reported about daily disasters, ranging from terrorist activities to Wars, had a different experience when he discussed Israel from his perspective.
|Martin Fletcher, author of "Walking Israel"|
“Writing the book was different then my career as a television correspondent, walking Israel was very personal, and it’s more interesting that way, to write a good book you have to give a lot of yourself. I have been in Israel 28 years, but through writing the book I saw things from a different perspective. I learned a lot during the walk down the coast. I was also a victim of looking at Israel through the conflict, because that is what one does as a network correspondent, mostly it is about the conflict, in this situation I looked at Israel through fresh eyes. It was a new for me too, not completely, as my wife and children are Israeli, but I looked at Israel through their perspective, rather then through my American editor’s eyes.”
One of the poignant stories Fletcher relates is that of Smadar Haran, a woman who in 1979 survived a terrorist attack in her apartment building which left her husband and four year old dead. During the attack, she hid in a crawl space above a door in her apartment building and to keep her two year old daughter from making a sound, unwittingly smothered her to death. It was a tragedy of epic proportions, and the entire country of Israel mourned.
Fletcher tells her story and surprises readers with Haran’s incredible perspective on life today. It is one of many chapters which will evoke tears and thought.
Fletcher himself is personable, extremely funny, and has a great energy about him. Yet, I wondered if years of covering wars and terrorism had affected him personally.
“Truth is I am affected by what I see, sometimes to the point I feel tears coming, but I am a bloke. I suppress it. I shrug it off and keep going.” He said.
His writing style has the ability to reach into your heart, and grab your attention making him appear to once again be in your living room television screen as he tackles stories from all perspectives from the modern Israeli Arab and where their loyalties lie, to the Israeli soldier and what it means for young men and women to devote their lives to Israel.
The book festival also welcomes a variety of authors sharing their international stories such as Marilyn Berger’s, “This is a Soul,” which tells the inspiring true story of Rick Hodes, a doctor who, with the support of the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, saved countless lives of the poorest of the poor in Ethiopia. Berger, who will be on hand on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 2 p.m. to recount the story, not only wrote the book, but her own life changed completely as she was inspired to act, and she did by adopting an Ethiopian boy.
Another book exploring the Middle East from a worldly perspective is Jessica Jiji’s, “Sweet Dates in Basra.” Jiji worked as a speech writer for the UN covering international developments, and is an advocate for the positive portrayal of Arabic-Jewish relationships.
She will be opening the festival on Wednesday, Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m., discussing her father’s Iraq and the lost traditions of a more idyllic world. Her background gives her unique insight into the camaraderie between Muslim and Jewish families as they suffer crisis after crisis together, exposing how sometimes relationships can move beyond ethnic and religious differences.
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