As 2014 draws to a close, Sarah Beller, J Street's director of education and programs, shared the note below, along with our annual winter reading list.
What a year 2014 has been. On a big-picture level, I've been deeply saddened by the fizzled peace process, fresh violence in the region, and actions that endanger a two-state resolution to the conflict.
At the same time on a personal level, I've watched with awe and delight as my newborn has grown into an alert, babbling six-month-old.
One of my son's favorite things to do is read books. Though he doesn't understand the words or the storylines yet, when we open a book, his eyes light on fire and he reaches to touch the pictures and turn the pages. (Not necessarily from left to right… maybe he's trying to read in Hebrew? Or Arabic?)
There's something about reading, at any age, that doesn't just inform us — it transports us, exercises our empathy muscles, and renews our sense of possibility.
And new possibilities lie just around the corner in 2015. Israelis, Palestinians, Americans, and the international community will all face crucial choices in the coming months. Will we be heading toward a future of xenophobia and persistent conflict, or will we take a stand for democracy, security, and a better future?
With that food for thought, here is J Street's recommended book list for this winter break. I hope your winter reading refreshes your sense of possibility and your energy to take a stand in the coming year — in particular at J Street's 5th National Conference: A Clear Choice for a Better Future from March 21-24.
Wishing a happy and healthy new year to all. See you this spring in DC!