1: Short story excerpt, Ayelet Tsabari’s “Say It Again, Say Something Else,” 2013.

1: Short story excerpt, Ayelet Tsabari’s “Say It Again, Say Something Else,” 2013.

This conversation between Lily, the story’s protagonist, and Lana, her new friend and the object of her affection, occurs when Lana, waiting for the bus to the mall with Lily, suggests that they should get off the bus if they see someone who “looks suspicious,” and then explains that anyone who looks Arab meets this criterion.

Lana’s insistence that her particular European heritage has been subsumed by a monolithic Israeli identity is at odds with Lily’s insistence on the coexistence of dual identities, a debate that is at the heart of the story’s exploration of the multivalence of Jewish identity, national identity, and sexual identity.

Suggested Activities: Have two students play Lily and Lana and read the excerpt aloud. Discuss the assertions that each girl makes in the passage. Can Arab and Jewish identities coexist? Why might Lana insist that her Belarusian heritage has been superseded by her Israeliness? What are the implications of each position? You may invite students to share any experiences they have had living with multiple identities. Were there particular moments when they felt they had to choose one identity? 

For a more sophisticated class, divide the class into two teams, one representing Lana’s position and one representing Lily’s position. Ask the teams to use the text of the story to come up with a set of points in favor of each position, and to address any possible critiques of it. Allow the teams to engage in a brief debate about the validity of each position.

Source: Ayelet Tsabari, “Say It Again, Say Something Else.” The Best Place on Earth. (New York: Random House, 2013), 40.