The State of Israel. By Leon Wieseltier. New York Times, November 21, 2013. Review of My Promised Land. By Ari Shavit.
The Old Peace Is Dead, but a New Peace Is Possible. By Ari Shavit. New York Times, March 12, 2013.
“If you want everyone to love you,” Saul Bellow wrote, “don’t discuss Israeli politics.” Yet when Bellow went to Israel for several months in 1975 to research a nonfiction book, all he did was talk politics — and everything else. It was what he loved best about Israel, the “gale of conversation.”
“My Promised Land” combines road trips, interviews, memoir and straightforward history to relate Israel’s story. The book taps his existential fear for his country, and his moral outrage about its occupation policy. He dilates especially on Israel’s essential, combustible duality.
His book takes its time to get going. We are introduced to his great-grandfather, a British Zionist who visited the Holy Land in 1897 and saw that the place was his people’s future. We meet Jewish orange growers who moved there in the 1920s, and pioneers of the kibbutz movement.
KFAR SHMARYAHU, Israel