Noa Tishby on Israel: No Superlatives Sufficient To Do It Justice

There are no superlatives sufficient to do justice to Noa Tishby’s wonderful book. It deserves to become as universally acclaimed as the Bible or Shakespeare. Buy it for your children or grandchildren who are off to university. Buy it for your partner.  Buy it for your dentist, gynaecologist and the teachers at your children’s school.  Buy it for your MP. Buy it for anyone!

 In response to numerous requests I have for years wanted to write the definitive book which lanced every lie about Israel that the IDS sufferers spew out (IDS: Israel Derangement Syndrome).

I had searched high and low but no such book existed.

Now it does! And in paperback, Kindle and audio.  Thank you Noa Tishby, 44 years old (and stunning).  In 333 pages she covers it all, in simple, unflowery Kick-Ass language. As she says, ‘Israel is also a casual society that doesn’t waste time on unnecessary ceremonial decorum.’ Exactly the same is true of her writing style. So much of the writing on antisemitism is written in lofty convoluted style by academics. Like the man who knows 350 positions in which to make love but has never had a girlfriend.  But not this book. But that doesn’t mean that the research is sloppy. It is every bit as meticulous as in the 900 page academic door-stopper. There are over 160 references, 7 maps, a comprehensive index, a 3 page glossary and a 5 page summary. There is the history of the Jewish People, from the time around 1500 BCE when the land of Canaan is mentioned in the Old Testament.

Here are just some of the rants of the IDS super spreaders that Ms Tishby demolishes:

  • Israel is a settler-colonial state
  • Israel is an apartheid state
  • Israel is an Occupier
  • There are 5.6 million Palestinian refugees
  • The people on the Mavi Marmara were peaceful
  • The Quran doesn’t mention the connection of the Jewish people to Jerusalem
  • The Jews ‘took Palestine’.

In many years of fighting the IDS hordes I have come across very few born in Israel who ‘get it’. Sure there are many who made Aliya (that is, relocated to Israel) who ‘get it’, Emily Schrader and Professor Richard Landes being just two examples. But native-born Israelis lived their lives in a Jewish State so how can they understand antisemitism? … But Ms Tishby ‘gets it’, despite self defining as ‘leftist’, ‘liberal’ and ‘secular’. No question that she ‘gets it’.  Unlike many on the left she doesn’t fight shy of the truth. She asserts that ‘fundamentalist Islam allows land that was once Muslim to be invaded’. And that ‘anti-Zionism is the politically correct version of antisemitism’. On the ‘occupation’ she writes ‘the land was never recognised as officially part of any country so how can it be ‘occupied’?’ And far from being ‘stolen’ she details how lands of Israel were bought:

You could easily buy lands there, and at a bargain, from either the Turkish government or private Arab or Christian landowners, most of whom didn’t live on the land and were absentee landlords living in less peripheral Ottoman regions.

Ms Tishby relates that the land where the first Kibbutz, Degania, stands was bought for the franc equivalent of just $16 per acre.

Minutes  after I finished the book (in two days) Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid named Ms Tishby as the first Foreign Ministry’s ‘Special Envoy for Combating Antisemitism and the Delegitimisation of Israel’. What an inspired choice! We are waiting to welcome you to the UK – where you’re sorely needed. In the book Ms Tishby recounts that she has already had one notable success: Following Roger Waters’ inevitable letter to the Rolling Stones in 2015 ‘I picked up the phone and called my friend Mick’  …………… And you know what happened …

The book is simple but absolutely not simplistic. Even a seasoned obsessive like me will learn loads from it. Like T. E. Lawrence’s sympathy for Zionism. Like the etymology of the word ‘nakba’ (it  was first used in the context of Israel by Syrian Professor Constantin Zureiq in 1948 as the war was still raging.  Zureiq (hardly pro-Zionist – he referred to ‘the Zionist enemy’) did NOT refer to the nakba  as something  the Israelis did to the Arabs – BUT as a self-inflicted and humiliating wound caused by the Arabs themselves . But Arafat rebranded the word).

Not only is this superb book about the history and controversies surrounding Israel: it also provides some fascinating and very personal insight into the family and upbringing that drove Noa Tishby to put pen to paper. Like most Israeli families, hers was touched by tragedy due to the conflict: her sister lost her boyfriend in Lebanon in 1970 and her mother was widowed in 1967, aged 26 (her first husband was a fighter pilot). We learn about her grandfather (her mother’s father) Hanan Yavor, Israel’s first Ambassador to Ghana, Nigeria and Liberia; about Fania Artzi, the mother of her mother’s first husband, who joined Degania Kibbutz in 1930; and about Nachum Tisch –  the grandfather of her father – an engineer who made aliya in 1922. He started the Yishuv’s Office of Industry and Trade. He brought the diamond industry to Israel.

One small gripe: In the discussion of Deir Yassin (p111) Ms Tishby is too ready to accept the conventional wisdom that it was a ‘massacre’ by Jews of Arabs, including women and children. But a book (published in 2018 so available to her) suggests on meticulous evidence that the conventional wisdom is wrong and demonises the Jews who were present.

Early on in the book Ms Tishby tells us that in September 1999, a few months after she moved to Los Angeles age 22, her father called her to wish her ‘Happy Holidays’. She had completely disconnected ‘from anything Israel’ and had even forgotten that it was Rosh Hashana!

Pesach starts on Friday night.

Somehow I don’t think she’ll forget.…………………

חג פסח שמח
… to Noa Tishby and all my readers!


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