On the idea for her book, Dr. Flamhaft said, “I knew I had an important story to tell for a long, long time. Not just about myself, but my country, Israel, and the generations that came before me, and my parents and grandmother. It really came about after a huge conference at Columbia University in 1993, right after the Israelis and the Palestinians signed their accord for peace. The two-day conference was about women and change in the Middle East.”
Dr. Flamhaft continued, “For two days, all the speakers at the conference spoke about the suffering of Palestinian women, but nobody said anything about Israeli women and their suffering. I told the audience my story as if it was a book, and the crowd was very moved, and I was surrounded by women who wanted to learn more about me. I felt that I had to capture that moment and I wanted to write about it. I went to Israel and I interviewed a lot of women and some Palestinians. When the time came to publish the book, for Academia it was too anecdotal, and for the trade, it was too academic, so I left it aside. My whole story was supposed to be one chapter in that book. So that chapter in that book, that I planned to write, turned out to be the book.”
For Professor Flamhaft, writing this book was a cathartic process. “You relive some traumatic parts of your life, and you relive some of those emotions,” she said.
There were several difficult aspects of the book to write about. “The hardest was my mother’s illness, and my dad’s occasional inability to deal with it. There are some dramatic scenes in the book about that, as well as the discovery of my fiance’s infidelity a month before the wedding, as well as his brutal death,” she shared. “One of the worst things was the story of my rape. Having to relive that was awful. I didn’t speak about my rape for a long, long time. Now with the #MeToo movement, I want to write something about this movement. Things are changing, and I’m glad.”
She also noted that teaching at Queens College all these years has inspired her writing process. “I don’t advertise my book to my students. I had an interesting request this semester with one of my classes. A student asked to read my book for one of the courses and write about that. I told that student that it wouldn’t be very ethical, I would never force anyone to buy my book, but if that student wants to read my book, I would be very happy and I would be happy to discuss it with the student. As an academic, you always have to write,” she said. “After a while, teaching at Queens College inspired me to write about my story. Being a political scientist motivated me to write it, but I had too much of a political scientist in me in this book.”
Digital transformation of book publishing
On the impact of technology in the book publishing industry, she said, “Technology has changed it tremendously. Now, we can self-publish. That is what I did after I got tired of dealing with agents. At the beginning, I used to pay a typist, just to do a chapter, but now with technology, I did this on a computer. Nowadays, these days, you don’t even have to meet your editors. You just send an email to them. It’s incredible. Technology is growing faster than I can digest it.”
For aspiring writers and book authors, Professor Flamhaft’s advice is as follows: The first piece of advice is believe in yourself and your story. Write it all out. Write everything, the good and the bad. Life is a learning process. Rewrite and rewrite again. Listen to your inner voice.”
“Success to me means inspiring others, especially as an educator and as a writer,” Dr. Flamhaft said. “When my students tell me that my course changed their lives, and tell me that I am a role model to them, that is the ultimate success. As a writer, I hope that my readership will grow, and more people will read the book. The ultimate success is if the book is made into a movie.”
The critically acclaimed book, War Widow, by distinguished college educator Ziva Flamhaft is available on Amazon.
Read More: Digital Journal reviewed Professor Ziva Flamhaft’s new book War Widow.