7/31/2019

Nobody hijacked Israel. It’s just not what its pioneers thought they’d created

"Friedman, 41, is an acclaimed Canadian-born Israeli author (“The Aleppo Codex,” “Pumpkinflowers”) who recently published a most unusual book, “Spies of No Country,” about Israeli espionage at the time of the state’s founding — unusual in that its protagonists are Israelis born in the Arab world who ventured back there, into what was at once familiar and highly dangerous territory, in the service of the nascent state. Friedman chose to focus on the heroes of what was sometimes known as “the Black Section” of Israel’s bare-bones initial intelligence apparatus because, he told The Times of Israel in an interview last week, “I thought we needed stories that better reflect the real Israel — not just stories of secular Ashkenazi pioneers and survivors of Warsaw.”

That “real” Israel, Friedman argues, is the Middle Eastern Israel, Israel as “part of the continuum of Judaism in the Muslim world.” The more you understand and internalize that, he says, the better you understand this country — everything from its cuisine and its music to its behavior and, crucially, its politics."