March 29, 2018

The tumul­tuous ear­ly years of the young Jew­ish state are brought to vivid life through the eyes of two Ger­man Jew­ish broth­ers. Arie sur­vived the Holo­caust in Europe. Peter, one year old­er, was cho­sen for the Kinder­trans­port and sent to America.

They find each oth­er again in Israel, know­ing every­one else in their fam­i­ly has been mur­dered. Peter becomes a top Mossad agent, deeply involved in many of the key spy adven­tures of the era. Arie becomes a schem­ing busi­ness­man, among the rich­est men in Israel: one broth­er is build­ing the state, the oth­er pro­tect­ing it.

But they have fall­en in love with the same woman, a Jew­ish refugee from Egypt. The broth­ers’ jeal­ousies and intrigues are mir­rored by the young nation’s very own strug­gles to survive.

Discussion Questions

Promised Land takes place short­ly after Israel’s War of Inde­pen­dence through the Six-Day War of 1967. It is well-researched, and his­tor­i­cal fig­ures are real­is­ti­cal­ly evoked as char­ac­ters. It is the first book in a planned tril­o­gy about a strug­gling fam­i­ly and a strug­gling nation.

Ger­man-born broth­ers Arie and Peter Nesh­er are reunit­ed in the Jew­ish state in 1947 after their fam­i­ly is mur­dered by the Nazis. Arie sur­vived Auschwitz, while Peter was sent to Amer­i­ca as a teen. He lived in the Unit­ed States with a Chris­t­ian fam­i­ly and lat­er served in the U.S. Army.

Their dif­fer­ent upbring­ings cre­ate very dif­fer­ent men; Peter becomes a Mossad agent, using his flu­ent Ger­man to help locate for­mer Nazis, while Arie becomes one of the wealth­i­est men in Israel. Arie helps build the state as a busi­ness­man while Peter pro­tects the state as a secret agent. But con­flict aris­es when both men fall in love with the same woman, a Jew­ish refugee from Cairo. Arie, the more aggres­sive one, mar­ries Tama­ra — but Peter won her heart first. Arie is unfaith­ful and neglects her. Peter mar­ries a dif­fer­ent woman and is a good hus­band, although he has feel­ings for Tama­ra. A page-turn­er, this his­tor­i­cal fam­i­ly saga offers sus­pense, romance, and the sto­ry of Israel as it strug­gles to survive.

Mar­tin Fletch­er is a for­mer glob­al cor­re­spon­dent for NBC News who also head­ed up its Tel Aviv News Bureau. Fletch­er lived in Israel for decades, and raised his chil­dren there with his Israeli wife.