Cool things I learned from Ari Shavit


Ari Shavit is described in his book jacket bio as “a leading Israeli journalist, a columnist for Haaretz, and a commentator on Israeli public television.” If you were to summarize a person in one sentence, I suppose this would be an alright way of describing Mr. Shavit, though it does not nearly scratch the surface.

Shavit is on campus today to promote his new, bestselling nonfiction book, My Promised Land, which tells the story of how Israel came to be, using anecdotes and narrative form. This morning, he led a group of ten students in what was supposed to be a workshop on writing and journalism; however, the “workshop” quickly evolved into an enlightening discussion not only about the writing process, but about finding one’s identity and formulating opinions on a campus as polarized and as passionate as Brown’s.

Most, if not all, of what Shavit had to say is simply too valuable – too intriguing – to keep to myself. So, for those of you who weren’t there, here’s a taste of Ari Shavit’s thoughts on journalism, writing, ideology, Israel, and so much more:

On the process of writing a large compositional work, like a book:

“First, writing is like this – go wild. No limits. Eat everything… Don’t censor yourself. There are always stages where you will be able to censor yourself.”

“The first half [of the writing process] has to be very warm, boiling, like lava. The second part is a cooling process… The best way to do it is to give it some time.”

“I know where I am going although I cannot define it… Writing a book is the closest a man can come to being pregnant.”

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Live Blog: Prospects for Peace After Gaza

What to do this week: April 28 – May 2


Ongoing events:

Event: Phone Banking For Climate Change
Time: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
Location: Urban Environmental Lab

The RI Student Climate Coalition will be phone banking for their Climate Action in Rhode Island Rally this Saturday.

Monday, April 28: 

Event: Israel/Palestine on Campus: A Conversation
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Location: The Underground

A community discussion on the relationship between “American universities, on-campus, activism, and the Israel-Palestine conflict,” Director of Middle East Studies Beshara Doumani and Director of Judaic Studies Maud Mandel will both speak on the topic. There will then be an hour of facilitated discussion.

Event: Kula Flow with Benn Rasmussen
Time: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Brown RISD Hillel

Benn Rasmussen, a Brooklyn based yoga teacher, will be teaching a Kula Flow style yoga class at Brown RISD Hillel. The class is free and open to the public, but there is a suggested donation of $3.

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Heartbeat concert at Brown RISD Hillel tonight

Everyone loves singing. Everyone also wishes that we could solve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Good news is that singing is here to help save the day. Music’s pedigree of helping to solve major crises through musicals — see civil rights and Mormonism — is unmatched, so it may have the strongest résumé of any negotiator currently at the table. Tonight, Brown RISD Hillel Hillel is doing its best to help belt out the first note of a renewed peaceful dialogue by hosting the Heartbeat @ Brown-RISD concert. The event is also sponsored by Common Ground, the Middle East Studies Department, and the Program in Judaic Studies.

According to the event’s Facebook page, the group was founded in 2007 is a “an international non-profit organization uniting musicians, educators, and students to build mutual understanding and transform conflict through the power of music.” Transforming conflict takes time, so it’s a good thing that both Hillel and Heartbeat are patient, as the event has been in the works for two years now. The event, which organizers stress is non-political, will feature songs that blend “traditional and modern Eastern and Western music.” That description seems to run the gamut on global music, which is a good thing: unlike the peace process, the concert should have something that appeals to everyone.

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Filmmaker and peace activists discuss ‘Little Town of Bethlehem’ and global relations

A  screening of “Little Town of Bethlehem,” a documentary about peace activists in Israel and Palestine, and panel discussion with the filmmaker and one of the featured activists took place in the Salomon Center last night though the Watson Institute for International Studies and the University of Rhode Island.

“Little Town of Bethlehem” sounds like the name of a Christmas special to Western ears, but in reality the town is the hub of Palestinian culture, conflict and, even more so now, reconciliation.

The American imagination also would pit Palestinian Christian Sami Awad, Palestinian Muslim Ahmad Al’Azzeh and Israeli Jew Yonatan Shapira against one another. They are members of famously warring communities. Yet they star in this documentary as peace activists. What drew them all to the film is that they believe in the lessons we all learned in preschool and later discounted as idealistic. They care about the wellbeing, security and sanity of people — all types of people. And they recognize that more violence is not the answer to violence, though they have seen it treated as such.  Continue Reading