Israel for Me, Not for Thee
Ari Shavit’s new portrait of Israel neither demonizes nor whitewashes the country, and for many, this fact will be sufficient to praise his book and call it “balanced.” My Promised Land is divided into 17 chapters, each offering a fascinating portrait of an individual episode of Israel’s history, such as the founding of the first kibbutz in 1921, the construction of the Dimona nuclear reactor in 1967, the founding of the first settlement in Samaria in 1975, and the economic protests of 2011. Shavit, a longtime columnist for Haaretz, alternates effectively and entertainingly between broad overviews and personal stories. Thus, he describes the conditions that produced the nation’s citrus boom following World War I alongside the story of an individual orange grower from Rehovot, using archival materials and in-depth interviews, before providing his insights and analysis. This is an immensely readable book.
About the Author
Elli Fischer is a translator and writer in Modi’in, Israel. This is his first article for Commentary.