My New Mid­dle East: Inside the Israeli Conundrum

Mati Mil­stein
  • Review
By – August 22, 2014

Auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal essays are often an excel­lent way to find out about a soci­ety. My New Mid­dle East is a won­der­ful exam­ple. It is a com­pi­la­tion of essays that were writ­ten over a nine­teen year peri­od by an Amer­i­can who moves to Israel. 

The author, essay­ist, and pho­to­jour­nal­ist Mati Mil­stein, moves to Israel as a young man. His job is to cov­er the news events of the day. As the book begins, the author is a young man; as the book devel­ops, he matures. He falls in love with Israel and joins the army. 

Not at all sur­pris­ing­ly Mil­stein tells of the ambiva­lent, even neg­a­tive feel­ings he nur­tured toward Hebrew and toward Israel before his move. He was thrown out of Hebrew school. He was con­nect­ed to noth­ing except moth­er earth because imme­di­ate­ly after col­lege, he went to work on a farm and became a laborer. 

By join­ing the army, Mil­stein becomes part of Israel. He becomes part of the remark­able and the mirac­u­lous. But he also sees the crazy, the ridicu­lous, and the inane. And of course, he sees the politics. 

Israel, he writes, is all about pol­i­tics. He becomes embroiled in issues sur­round­ing inter­nal pol­i­tics and Pales­tin­ian state­hood, Pales­tin­ian acquain­tances, for­eign affairs, war and peace. In Israel, he says, there is always a cri­sis to sound off about. 

The essays read like jour­nal entries. They are acces­si­ble and at times, fun­ny. They are per­son­al. Mati Mil­stein speaks from the heart.

Relat­ed content:

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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