Twelve Tribes: Promise and Peril in the New Israel

Ethan Michaeli. Custom House, $29.99 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-268885-9
Journalist Michaeli (The Defender) paints an intriguing if underdeveloped portrait of the “often fraught dynamics among the religious factions, ethnic traditions, and political affiliations within Israel today.” Drawing on interviews with Palestinian Israelis, ultra-Orthodox Jews, politicians, reporters, and small business owners, among others, Michaeli delves into seldom-discussed topics such as the campaign to ban fraud-prone “binary options” financial trading in Israel, and the “sedentarization” of the once-nomadic Bedouins, many of whom live in illegal villages in the Negev desert. Though Michaeli notes the “fractious relations of Israel’s different sectors,” he doesn’t draw a clear framework for understanding these tensions, and somewhat shortchanges important demographic groups including the poor, Anglo immigrants, the Israeli army, and young Israelis who struggle to afford an apartment and other necessities. Michaeli packs in plenty of revealing anecdotes, but he occasionally lapses into unenlightening shorthand, such as when he refers to the “American superstructure imposed on Israel/Palestine’s economy and politics” without fully explaining what he means. Though Michaeli is a skilled interviewer and a vivid scene-setter, this colorful yet meandering tour of modern-day Israel lacks depth. Agent: Rob McQuilkin, Massie & McQuilkin. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 08/31/2021
Release date: 11/16/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 320 pages - 978-0-06-268887-3
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