Noa Tishby is on a mission to correct misperceptions of Israel — its history, culture, and people. After watching Israel be criticized by the global community, particularly online, the Israeli actress, writer, and producer began defending the country on Twitter and beyond. What began as a hobby developed into a deep passion, and ultimately, a vocation. The more Tishby sought to explain Israel to others the more she sought to learn herself. From that journey, this book was born.
Tishby presents key talking points on key issues in an energetic and engaging way, relevant for newbies and seasoned advocates alike. In a conversational style,Tishby interweaves her family history, personal life story, and sassy and sometimes snarky commentary with a lightning-fast overview of the history of Israel, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and contemporary challenges such as settlements. She ends with a retort to BDS, an overview of Israel’s many positives, and a cursory and still relatively positive spin on diversity within Israel.
Although it is not a book of history, Israel contains much historical information, carefully curated to support Tishby’s end goal of promoting Israel. This can lead to incomplete, simplified, or misleading conclusions. For example, Tishby uses the idea that there has never been an independent Palestinian state as justification for why the Jews alone can claim to be “returning” to “their” land, but doesn’t discuss how concepts of land ownership, empires, and nation-states has changed over time. She also continually points out when Arab leadership failed to accept two-state proposals, pre- and post- 1948, without discussion of why they did so, which is critical to understanding the Arab experience in the conflict.
If you’re looking for a more historical or nuanced conversation, this isn’t it, nor does it claim to be. If you’re looking for an accessible, uplifting read on Israel, and/or looking for ways to expand and improve your Israel advocacy arsenal, Tishby’s book is a great fit.
Joy Getnick, PhD, is the Executive Director of Hillel at the University of Rochester. She is the author of the Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning Beyond Borders: The History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, has taught history at area colleges, and previously worked in the JCC world and as the director of a teen Israel travel summer program.