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About Ari Shavit
Ari Shavit is a leading Israeli columnist and writer. Born in Rehovot, Israel, Shavit served as a paratrooper in the IDF and studied philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jersualem. In the 1980s he wrote for the progressive weekly Koteret Rashit, in the early 1990s he was chairperson of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, and in 1995 he joined Haaretz, where he serves on the editorial board. Shavit is also a leading commentator on Israeli public television. He is married, has a daughter and two sons, and lives in Kfar Shmariahu.
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Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award
An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.
As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.
Praise for My Promised Land
“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
“[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
“Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.
Der renommierte Journalist Ari Shavit sieht Israel in einer halt- und ausweglosen Lage: als jüdisch-westlicher Staat in einer arabisch-islamischen (Um-)Welt seit seiner Gründung in der Existenz bedroht, andererseits Okkupationsmacht über ein anderes, das palästinensische Volk. Der Innovationskraft und Lebensfreude seiner Menschen stehen ein bröckelndes Gemeinwesen, zermürbende Konflikte, militärische Scheinerfolge und der Verlust internationalen Ansehens gegenüber. Was als gemeinschaftlicher hoffnungsfroher Aufbruch begann, insbesondere nach den Schrecken des Holocausts, der gemeinsame Bau von Eretz Israel, ist heute allgemeiner Desillusion und Desintegration gewichen. Shavit erzählt, zunächst auf den Spuren seines zionistischen Urgroßvaters, eine sehr persönliche Geschichte Israels während der letzten anderthalb Jahrhunderte, von Erfolgen im steten Überlebenskampf, aber auch von schuldbehafteter Tragik und unübersehbarem Niedergang.