More reviews of ‘Spies of No Country’

Matti Friedman’s new book, ‘Spies of No Country’ – the story of Israeli intelligence’s Arab Section –  continues to attract favourable reviews in the press and media. Here are two more reviews, in Haaretz and the Times of Israel (with thanks: Jonathan):  

Steven Silber reviews ‘Spies of No Country’ in Haaretz:

Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel,” by
Matti Friedman, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 248 pages, $26.95

Mizrahi Jews are descendants of Jews from the Middle East who, unlike the Sephardim, have no
ancestors from Spain or Portugal.

.Spies of the Arab section relaxing off duty in Lebanon  

Matti Friedman, the author of “Spies of No
Country,” takes an interest in this community, lamenting that Mizrahi Jews have
been “condescended to, and pushed to the fringes.”

Friedman’s book — like this review — isn’t the
place to analyze the injustices; suffice it to say that “Spies of No Country”
rights one wrong by telling the story of how a handful of Mizrahim — only one
with a high school diploma — helped launch a precursor to the Mossad.

They persevered even if their role in
the nascent Israeli intelligence service, the so-called Arab Section, sidelined
them to “one of the only corners of the Zionist movement where their identity
was valued,” as Friedman puts it.

 Read article in full

Lyn Julius reviews the book in The Times of Israel:

Friedman’s underlying purpose is to give credit to Jewish heroes from
Arab countries who helped build the state of Israel as surely as did
David Ben-Gurion. When the state of Israel was founded, only one in ten
Jews was from the Arab world. But after 1948, boatloads of Mizrahim
transformed Israel’s character into that of a Middle Eastern state.
These refugees – now comprising over half the Jews of Israel –  brought
with them the certainty, honed by centuries of subordinate existence as dhimmis, 
that the Arabs would never reconcile themselves to a ‘minority
insurrection’ against Islamic domination.  Defeat by the despised Jews
would never be considered the final round in a struggle that might last

Friedman also develops a theme he has already touched on in earlier
articles and essays: that the Israel of the kibbutz,  of the early
Ashkenazi founders, is increasingly out-of-date in explaining the
country. For this alone, ‘Spies of No Country’ , which has been widely reviewed
in the mainstream US press and media, has performed an invaluable
service in countering the ‘European implant’ paradigm through which so
many, including rising stars on the left of the Democratic party, 
misperceive Israel.

Read article in full

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