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Ari Shavit

My Promised Land

Spiegel & Grau

2014 Nonfiction

Ari Shavit is a commentator on Israeli public television and a leading columnist for the daily newspaper Haaretz. Born in Israel, Shavit served as a paratrooper in the Israel Defense Force and studied philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In the 1980s, he wrote for the progressive weekly Koteret Rashit. In the early 1990s, he chaired the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. In 1995, he joined Haaretz, where he serves on the editorial board. He is married to Timna Rosenheimer; they have a daughter, Tamara, and sons Michael and Daniel. The Shavits live in Kfar Shmariahu.

Encouraged by New Yorker Editor David Remnick, Shavit spent five years writing My Promised Land in English and Hebrew simultaneously. It asks basic questions: Why was Israel created? What has it achieved? What went wrong? Will it survive?

“This book is the personal odyssey of one Israeli who is bewildered by the historic drama that has engulfed his homeland,” Shavit writes in his introduction. He interviewed hundreds of Arabs and Jews and delved into the historic record, letters and private documents. Shavit weaves into the text his own family, his disillusioning military service and the forced expulsion of the Palestinian population of Lydda in 1948. He touches on the exuberant Tel Aviv night life, the orange groves of Rehovot and the country’s current hostilities with Iran.

“Even if you’ve had it up to here with the Jews and the Arabs, this book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done,” writes historian and Anisfield-Wolf juror Simon Schama in the Financial Times of London. “It is a reminder that the first obligation of history is self-criticism, and the second is philosophically enriched storytelling – and how very rarely this goal is achieved.”

My Promised Land won a National Jewish Book Award.

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Blog Posts about Ari Shavit

Ari Shavit's "My Promised Land" Headed To HBO In New Documentary

HBO will turn Ari Shavit's My Promised Land into a television documentary, CEO and chairman Richard Pleper announced at the 2015 INTV media conference in Jerusalem. "The book left me awestruck and as moved as I’ve been maybe ever," Pleper told the crowd. "When I first approached him, I said to Ari that I’ve waited my whole adult life to find this book.” Published in 2014, "My Promised Land" is a carefully crafted narrative history, weaving family memoir, documents and hundreds of interviews with Arabs and Jews. The book, Shavit's... Read More →

VIDEO: Ari Shavit Speaks At Cleveland City Club: "America Should Lead An Alliance Of Stabilizers"

Photo credit: Robert Muller The biggest laugh during Ari Shavit’s serious, passionate talk about the Middle East came at the end, when a questioner at the City Club of Cleveland asked the Israeli journalist about the Kurds. “Look,” Shavit said. “There are no good guys. There are no Canadians in the Middle East.  So you have two options: You opt out and say, ‘I’m a purist; I don’t touch it; it’s all contaminated.’ Or you say, ‘It’s a rough world out there, and promoting the lesser evil is doing the right thing.’" In... Read More →

VIDEO: Ari Shavit On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award For Nonfiction

Ari Shavit, a columnist for Jerusalem’s daily newspaper Haaretz, spent five years writing My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel in English and Hebrew simultaneously. A former Israeli paratrooper, peace advocate and great-grandson of Victorian-era Zionists, Shavit carefully examines a fraught and difficult history, interweaving family memoir, multiple documents and hundreds of interviews with Arabs and Jews. This important, clarifying book asks why Israel was created, what it has achieved, what went wrong and if it can... Read More →

Explore 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award Winning Titles At Cleveland Public Library's Brown Bag Book Club

On the cusp of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony, join awards manager Karen R. Long for a personal introduction to the titles being honored this year. Long will offer a speed date with each book, and an introduction to the Lifetime Achievement winners on Wednesday, September 3 at noon. Her presentation will kick off this fall’s Brown Bag Book Club at the Cleveland Public Library downtown. In subsequent weeks, the series will then break out to examine each of the 2014 award-winning books in turn. Beginning Wednesday, September 10... Read More →
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