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The Atlanta Israel Coalition is excited to announce our partnership with the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC) in promoting a letter-writing contest called The Letters Project: Conversing Across Narratives based on Yossi Klein Halevi’s book, Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor: With an Extensive Epilogue of Palestinian Responses.
I am excited too. And let me tell you why.
When I first read about this book, I was intrigued by the idea of explaining Jewish presence to Palestinians. Klein Halevi created an opening. And when the paperback version was published months later, I was excited. It included responses from those Palestinian neighbors. (I even blogged about the book’s potential Words and Letters.)
Some time later, I read the book myself. And I saw what this essay contest promoters see: “The Letters Project is a powerful way to engage young (and older) adults in learning and creative thinking about the complexities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” This is needed, in an era where far too many prefer to silence disagreement instead of opening dialogue.
What makes this contest, which runs through May 17, 2021, even more impressive is that it offers youth as much as adults the opportunity to understand what the parties involved have to understand: two peoples each have narratives and a tie to the land, and if they are going to ever find a way to co-exist, then they have to listen to each other.
The contest culminates in JCRC-facilitated Zoom conversations to which the author Yossi Klein Halevi and participants are invited. The Zoom conversations will take place before the winners are announced. There will be three prizes awarded. The top prize goes to Best Overall ($360) and another two prizes will be for Excellence in Analysis ($180 each).
This contest is open to everyone ages 14 and up and the letter can be written from the perspective of the entrant or an imagined Palestinian or Israeli perspective. This offers participants an opportunity to step into another’s shoes. After all, the intention of this project is to encourage a conversation across narratives and to grapple with complexity.
Information about the contest, including writing prompts (pictured below) and judging criteria, as well as the submission portal, is available at www.minndakjcrc.org/what-we-do/the-letters-project/.
To further encourage participation, the Atlanta Israel Coalition has a limited number of copies of the book to give to groups. Other entrants can buy the book and then submit their receipt for reimbursement when they submit their letter, via the contest page‘s submission portal.
If you have questions, please email AtlIsraelco@gmail.com.