10 February 2012 0 Comments

Israelis scaring each other

My pal Matthew Kalman just became editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Report, a much-deserved high-profile position for a thoughtful, creative fellow. In the true spirit of log-rolling he asked me to write this week’s cover story. It’s headlined “What Israelis Fear Most.” Needless to say, they don’t fear what you might expect… Well, they do, but […]

30 September 2011 0 Comments

Happy New Year

Frequently Jerusalem hits the headlines because Jews and Muslims do rotten things to each other. They kill; they shoot; they make the most predictable speeches in the history of the United Nations General Assembly, which is not known for spicy dialogue at the best of times. However, there are many benefits to living in a […]

1 January 2011 0 Comments

Israel’s president is no angel

When the residents of Kiryat Malakhi, the southern Israeli town whose name means “City of Angels,” picked Moshe Katsav as the youngest-ever mayor in the country’s history in 1970, he was 24. For decades he was the town’s symbol, an immigrant born in Iran who made it to the top of the establishment and was […]

20 December 2010 0 Comments

Pick-up artist protests in Israel

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah ended last week, bringing to a close an apparently great opportunity for sexual conquest. The Center for the Art of Seduction, a Tel Aviv business which runs courses to help men succeed with women (“Do you want to get every girl that you want?”), posted a video earlier this month […]

13 December 2010 0 Comments

New West Bank road to peace?

ST. GEORGE’S MONASTERY, West Bank — Gathered in the chapel of this outpost in the Judean Desert last week, the Orthodox priests chanted “Lord, have mercy” in Greek, in a service of blessing for a new road that makes the venerable building accessible to the growing number of tourists willing to dare a visit to […]

18 November 2010 0 Comments

Israel’s public rabbis court controversy

Israel’s holy men have long had a reputation for an approach toward the society around them that is, shall we say, considerably less conciliatory and compassionate than the Dalai Lama. Lately the country’s rabbis appear to be taking it to a new grade of nastiness. A judge on the Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court, Dov Domb, […]

3 September 2010 5 Comments

The Inquisition, the Jews of Andalus, and Columbus: ‘By Fire By Water’ review

Historical novels vie with crime and romance novels for the titles of most derided and most widely read literature. They’ve had a bad rap ever since the 19th century, when the swashbucklers of Alexandre Dumas looked pretty wooden next to Dickens, and cartoonish in comparison to the depth of Victor Hugo or George Eliot. There […]

2 September 2010 0 Comments

Bielefeld does exist!

On my book tours I often venture to places few others visit. There are book festivals in tiny provincial towns. Readings at bookshops in small rural villages. This week I spoke in a German town that many Germans are convinced doesn’t even exist. Bielefeld (population 330,000) is a town in North Rhine-Westphalia. Or is it? […]

31 August 2010 0 Comments

Easy drama, too easy drama

Recently, in this (cyber)space, I started to explain why I’ve turned to historical fiction, after previously writing a book of nonfiction and my four Palestinian crime novels. I wrote that historical fiction casts today’s deepest issues in an unexpected (historical) context and can therefore make us see them anew. It’s also a dramatic way of […]

4 August 2010 3 Comments

Israel Museum gets funky

I was the first journalist to interview James Snyder when he arrived in 1997 from a sinecure at New York’s Museum of Modern Art to head the Israel Museum, the country’s premier cultural institution. Snyder had neat white hair, a trim build encased in a seersucker suit, and a black tie. This, in a land […]