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April 19, 2021 4:16 pm

Israeli-American Actress-Turned-Author Noa Tishby Seeks to Explain ‘Misunderstood’ Israel in New Book

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Noa Tishby. Photo: Provided.

Fans already know Noa Tishby as an actress, producer, activist and entrepreneur — and now she’s adding “author” to that list.

Her debut book, “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth,” is a breakdown of the Jewish state in chronological order, from the biblical times to Israel’s founding, with key moments in the country’s history. It also dives into the country’s ongoing conflicts and serves as part-memoir, combining personal stories from Tishby’s own family history.

Born and raised in Tel Aviv, Tishby takes a self-deprecating approach to discussing her family’s role in establishing Israel and the Zionist movement. Her grandfather co-founded one of Israel’s first kibbutzim, and her great-grandfather established the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Jerusalem.

By the end of the book, Tishby told The Algemeiner in an interview, readers are “armed with all the facts.”

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“To anybody who is a supporter of Israel or knows his or her history, it’s self-evident that Israel is misunderstood; that Israel gets a disproportionate amount of attention and scrutiny to its size and standing in the world,” she explained. “And it’s self-evident that it’s been skewed and filled with disinformation and misinformation that is targeting the single consistent democracy in the Middle East, which also happens to be a Jewish state.”

Tishby started her acting career in the 1990s in the Israeli series “Ramat Aviv Gimmel.” She guest starred in the Showtime series “The Affair” and is now the co-executive producer of the HBO show “In Treatment.” In 2011, she founded the advocacy organization Act for Israel and in 2014 co-created Reality Israel, a series of leadership trips to Israel. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, she split her time living between Israel and Los Angeles.

Tishby said she was tired of having to defend Israel “way too many [times] to count” and explain the country to people she interacted with. She searched for a simplified and “easy to digest” book about her native country that she could recommend others to read; when she was unable to find one, she decided to write it herself. Other than Golda Meir’s 1973 autobiography and an English translation of historian Anita Shapira’s work, her new book is the first on Israel’s history written by a woman.

In her book, she said, she addresses “head-on” how the growing influence of anti-Israel sentiment on the left and the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement has contributed to false accusations against Israel of apartheid, occupation and genocide.

“Not discussing the tough issues about Israel is not being an authentic communicator,” she said. “There’s a whole chapter on the settlements, and there’s a discussion about apartheid and colonialism. I think even if you take Israel’s mishandling of everything that they ever did, there’s still a strong case for the country’s safety, security and support on behalf of the world community.

“I’m not trying to say that Israel’s perfect, I’m just trying to say that the oppression against it is disproportionate,” she continued. “It’s the only country in the world that garners this level of petition and boycott movements and demonstrations. Where are the other countries in the world that actually have human rights abuses? Why the obsession with Israel?”

Tishby devotes an entire chapter to the BDS movement, criticizing some of its most notable supporters, such as former Pink Floyd member Roger Waters — whom she nicknamed the “the Energizer Bunny of the BDS movement” — anti-Israel activist Alice Walker, and US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Tishby said about the anti-Israel movement, “I am gladly ripping them a new a**hole. They are not a movement about justice and peace. They are a movement that is trying to dismantle Israel as a state. Period, end of story. The founder of BDS [Omar actually said that.”

“The majority of people who support them don’t actually know what it is that they’re supporting and who they’re supporting,” she added. “The BDS movement is sponsored by people who sponsor Hamas … The movement needs to be out from any democratic or Western society and they need to be real with who it is that they are in order to stop fooling liberals into supporting them.”

The author also holds the movement responsible for turning “Zionist” and “Zionism” into a “slur” used as a coded attack on Jews, and spoke about “re-owning” the concept of Zionism — which she called “the movement for Jewish liberation and self-determination in a Jewish, yet not exclusively Jewish, state.”

“If you come to [any college] campus and you want to join any liberal group, you need to denounce Israel; you need to denounce the single consistent democracy in the entire Middle East … This has been a slow-moving terrorist attack,” she said.

On the overall theme of the book, Tishby described her target audience: “If you are a person who loves democracy, freedom of speech, human rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and especially if you’re a liberal and a progressive and you do not support Israel within the context of the Middle East  — you’re an idiot. And let me tell you why.”

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