LCC Students Compare the Literature of Jerusalem and Montréal

The students from LCC were asked to compare the two sets of literature from Jerusalem and Montréal. Their responses were written in the moodle environment we have been using.

More of our responses can be viewed on the LCC Responses Video.

Ingrid's Response:

For this paragraph, I chose to compare the Hebrew poems Jerusalem and With My Grandfather by Yehuda Amichai to Friends Break Bread Together and Talk about Intolerance. There are many similarities and differences between Jerusalem and Montreal. In the Hebrew poem Jerusalem, clash and intolerance between the Palestinians and the Israelis is shown throughout the poem. “Laundry of an enemy” is representative of the enemies that live close-by. “The wall” is actually existent. It is a wall that represents the rivalry between the Palestinians and the Israelis. It is called the West Wall. Much violence occurs in Jerusalem. I hear that many adults will know at least one person who was killed by a Palestinian.
In the piece of literature Friends Break Bread Together and Talk about Intolerance, clash and intolerance is also shown. But in Montreal, there is no physical wall. There are neighborhoods that are predominantly French where an Englishman would not be welcome but physical violence of the extent in Jerusalem would almost never occur in Montreal. I find that in the last ten years, after the referendum, peace has been achieved between the English and the French to a certain extent.
In the poem With My Grandfather, the sense of history and pride in one’s country is shown. In the final stanza the words read:
And in the shambles of his room,
The angels sing
Of the Heavenly Jerusalem.
It seems to me that the Israeli people have a deep, unshakable sense of pride in their country, Israel, the land they believe to be theirs. I have discovered that there was quite a struggle when a certain Jewish population claimed the land as Israel and named their province Jerusalem. With such a struggle, the Israelis must feel a sense of satisfaction and victory.
As well, we can see their sense of history in the stanza:
Like our father Abraham
Who counted stars at night
Who called out to his Creator
From the furnace,
Who bound his son
On the altar-
So was my grandfather.
It shows that everything old is still present and that the Israelis will never forget the past, in terms of their religion and in terms of their people’s history.
Ten years ago (in my story), people were exceedingly proud of their nationality and wished to defend it and preserve it, even if that means excluding certain groups, though it may be unjust. Today, I find that there is less thinking of past injustices and more contemplation of future peace and happiness. The sense of history is strong in the story, but not as strong as in Israel.
I find that Quebec was in a reasonably similar situation to Israel ten years ago. I find that Israel’s situation is much more intense. I hope that someday soon there may be peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Trevor's Response
The stories I chose to compare were Jerusalem, All The Generations Before Me, and Friends Break Bread and Talk Together About Intolerance. These stories seemed to share similar themes. Jerusalem spoke about living immediately beside an enemy, and the politics and feigned emotions that go on between the two sides. Although not as violently, the same situation has happened in Montreal. The poetic device of being able to see the laundry of the enemy just shows the proximity of the enemy not only in distance. Showing the enemy doing menial tasks just demonstrates the humanity of the enemy, and how common the two sides are. Pretending to be happy was mentioned in the poem, and this has also occurred in the days leading up to and the aftermath of the referendum. However, there is one major difference: Whereas the wall in Montreal is figurative; St. Lawrence Street, the division between the Anglophone West and the Francophone East; the Western Wall is concrete, and forms a harsh boundary, separating people that are similar but in religion. However, two opposing forces in a common area rarely works, and on must accept the other group, and work towards peace.
All The Generations Before Me was also a very meaningful poem. It showed how all of one's ancestors contribute bit by bit who we are today, and we must remember them. This is also mentioned in the Montreal story, because people of different ethnicities and different backgrounds spoke about how their backgrounds affected them as people. Montreal, although not as brutally, seems to have the same struggle as Jerusalem does.

Gabrielle's Response
The piece of literature I used in class was called Friends Break Bread Together and Talk About Intolerance and the poem I chose from the literature packet was called Jerusalem by Yehuda Amichai. In the story I read in class, it spoke of the resentment and certain hatred between the Francos and Anglos in Quebec. In the poem I had just read, it spoke of the severe and always present hatred and resentment between the Palestinians and the Israelis in Israel.

In Quebec, violence is not often used to express one’s dislike for the other’s language; what is most commonly used and seen is the isolation of Anglos by the Francos; they simply don’t socialize with them, and vice versa. In Israel though, the tension and hatred is very apparent; potential threats of terrorist attacks are something that they have to live with everyday. One could say that Israel is at an extreme while in Quebec, it’s quite mild.

-To make us think that they’re happy. To make them think that we’re happy.

In Israel, neither side would dare show any sign of weakness or the fact that they are being deeply affected by the attacks from the other; they have to put on a front and hold their heads up high. For their own protection, no one can show any sign of limitation. In Quebec, the need to put on a front wasn’t and isn't very urgent, mainly because the tension in Quebec isn’t one that can cause violence and terrorist attacks. It would simply create some sort of civilized resentment between both groups. Of course, this resentment, here in Quebec, has somewhat subsided since the referendum around ten years ago. Quebec is at a calm place right now where in general, different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds are quite easily accepted.

Erika's Response
I chose I Flowered in a Stone by Zelda to compare to The Hockey Sweater by Roch Carrier. In the poem I Flowered in a Stone, it says that Jerusalem captures her (Zelda’s) free spirit. Montreal ’s hockey team captures the spirit of children and adult alike, as hockey plays a big part in Montreal ’s culture. Though, The Hockey Sweater also talks about the relationship between the French and the English, I found that I Flowered in a Stone relates more to how hockey influences Montreal and the pride that hockey fans have for their team. The verse that relates the best to the Hockey Sweater is,
“ Jerusalem captured
My free spirit
I drowned in light
I forgot my name”
I found that this verse was similar to how hockey can entrance people here in Montreal. I am curious to know, though, if there is something (such as a sport or a monument or anything else) in Jerusalem that can capture people’s spirits as much as hockey captivates people here in Montreal.

Steven's Response

In Yehuda Amichai’s poem, Jerusalem, the author explains to the reader that there are battles between two different cultures in Jerusalem. He mentions that he sees clothing of a woman and towels of a man who are his enemy. He also sees a kite that belongs to child, but the child is on the other side of the wall. The author is looking at the wall that separates the Israeli community from the Palestine in a similar sort of rivalry but a lot less severe. Now, the English are much more tolerable of community. The wall might be literal or figurative. Even if there isn’t a wall, there is still a rivalry between the Israeli community and the Palestine community.

The Hockey Sweater has a similar theme. Just like in Israel, the French people and the English people are the French people and vice verse, but it was not always like this. In our history, the French and the English people have fought many times. There was the invasion of Canada by the English people in 1760. There also was the time that two political parties existed, all the French people supported one and all the English people supported the other. But over time a peace between the English people and the French people developed. Hopefully, a peace will emerge between the Israeli people and the Palestine people.

Joanne's Response

From the poem literature packet, I chose to read “Poems” and for the short stories I chose The Hockey Sweater. Both these compositions share one common aspect which is the rivalries between 2 groups in one city . In “Poems”, Yeduha Amiachi, the composer of the poem, refers to “the wall” which is probably a metaphor to help understand the aspect of the separation of the two cultures, the white sheets and the towels. On one side of the wall are the Palestinians and on the other are the Israelis. Are Palestinians towels and Israelis white sheets or the other way around? Its just like in the Hockey Sweater, the French against the English, Les Canadiens de Montreal vs. The Toronto Maple Leafs. There is a lot of competition going around everywhere.

History is what plays a key role to these all rivalries. I personally think that there is still some conflict going on where I live, between the French and the English, I have seen it. But its not just in sports, because for sport, its perfectly natural to have conflict because there has to be one winner, but I see conflict going on in everything else. I don’t think it will ever stop, because some people just cant accept others, which is unfortunate.

Sanjay's Response

I read All The Generations Before Me and Jerusalem. For our own literature I read The Hockey Sweater. One of the major similarities I found between All The Generations Before Me and The Hockey Sweater was that there was competition, a never-ending rivalry between 2 groups. We have seen that in history a lot. Countries will always compete. Sometimes the rivalry is so strong that they will resort to violence. Schools will always compete. Hockey teams, like the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs will always compete. And competition is good. Without competition, the word "best" would not exist. That's one less word in the dictionary! English teachers would faint if they heard that! It's a good thing no teachers are reading this though.

Richard's Response

Israel and Quebec are very different, yet at the same time very much alike. In each area of the world, there are two groups of people living in the same place. Technically, Quebec is ruled by a Lieutenant-Governor, that is the Queen of England’ representation in the province. The French Canadians see this as an invasion or occupation of their ancestry, heritage and culture. In Israel, many Arabs see the unified Jerusalem as an occupation of the capital of the ‘promised sovereign Palestinian Arab state'. In both areas, both controlling sovereignties, ‘the English’ in Quebec and the State of Israel in Israel and the occupied territories, must make decisions about what do to with the opposing nationalities. Quebec is much different, because there have been no acts of sovereign violence in Quebec in the past 30 years.

The case in Israel and the Occupied Territories is much different, because there are risks of suicide attacks, border conflicts and nuclear assaults from Iran. As noted in “the miracle of unification”, it is noted that Israel will never negotiate to make a sovereign Arab city within Jerusalem. In addition, the opposing sides must decide how to react to the current sovereignty. In my piece of literature, ‘The Day the English Language Fell from the Sky’, you see a French family preserving their culture by only speaking French, but they did not see the need for sovereignty. In Jerusalem, if the Arabs can keep their culture in a unified Jerusalem, do they need sovereignty?

Elie Wiesel’s poem about the Israeli liberation of Jerusalem, it is described how big of a joy it was, for Israel to be now in control of this historic city. Not only is Jerusalem the capital of Israel, but it is a spiritual capital for Jews around the world. It can also be compared to “The Day the English Language Fell From the Sky”, as a French family is proud to preserve their cultural roots.

Matthew's Response

Recently I read the poem by Elie Wiesel, which is part of the Jerusalem – modern writing package. This piece of literature has many similarities with the previous short story I read, entitled the Pastel Nazi. Although, Israel and Quebec are on opposite sides of the globe, I have realized that we very alike. Both cultures are based on tradition, culture and history. The Pastel Nazi relates to Elie Wiesel poem, due to the fact that they both discuss the topic of the Jews, their suffering, and how we must keep the memory alive. Moreover, both pieces of literature come across historical and monumental places. However, I would like to know more about the meaning of Ahavat Yisreal and I am very curious to know what is Kotel HaMaaravi. I find Israel to be a truly magnificent culture, and I am very intrigued with its literature and the meaning behind it.

Eric's Response
For our literary comparison, I read The Hockey Sweater. Out of the poems from your literary packet, I chose the Yehuda Amichai poem, All the Generations before Me. I believe that both of these literary pieces speak of rivalries in our home cities. Both these rivalries have been passed on through the generations, so kids have the same rivalries as their parents. Although it has been passed on, the rivalries in our countries I am sure is getting better. I know that for me, the English to French rivalry is not really existent. I am aware that it did exist but I do not see it much anymore. Although the rivalry between the Montreal Canadians and the Toronto Maple Leafs in hockey is probably bigger than any other rivalry because one team is French and the other English, rivalry is natural in sports, so I do not think that this one will be much different than any other sports. In the Amichai poem, it says ‘All The Generations Before Me donated me, bit by bit, so that I’d be erected by all at once’ which is in fact true, but less and less of the rivalries are donated and hopefully, soon they will be small or gone.

Sena's Response
In the poem, Jerusalem by Yehuda Amichai, “the white sheet of a woman who is my enemy, /the towel of a man who is my enemy” is similar to the story, The Hockey Sweater where there was tension between the English and the French. Also, when “We have put up many flags,/they have put up many flags” is mentioned in Jerusalem , the flags symbolize the hockey sweaters of a team. The hockey sweaters in The Hockey Sweater are the pride of a team which is relevant to “To make us think that they’re happy./To make them think that we’re happy” in Jerusalem . In Elie Wiesel’s speech, when he said that “Each wanted to be at the Kotel HaMaaravi, to kiss the stones, to cry out prayers or memories. Each knew that on that historic day, in that week, the place of the Jew was at the Temple Mount ,” I got the impression that the Jews are really faithful about this place, taking this place as their part of religion. The Jews’ devotion to the place is similar to the Montrealers taking hockey as their culture as described in The Hockey Sweater.