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My Life as a Jew - Michael Gawenda

My Life as a Jew

By: Michael Gawenda

Paperback | 3 October 2023

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A multi-award-winning journalist and former editor-in-chief of a major Australian newspaper searingly explores his Jewish identity at a time when a substantial - and growing - part of the left is opposed to the very existence of Israel as a Jewish state.

Born in a displaced persons' camp two years after the end of the Holocaust, Michael Gawenda spent his childhood and teenage years in a left-wing non-Zionist Jewish youth group in Melbourne. This shaped the sort of Jew he became - a secular Jew who loved the Yiddish language and Yiddish culture.

Gawenda went on to become a public figure during his 40 years as a journalist, including his role as editor-in-chief of The Age - the only Jewish editor-in-chief in the newspaper's history. Throughout this time, and since, he became dismayed and pained by the growing hostility of the left to Israel and to Jews like him who were not prepared to declare themselves as anti-Zionists. This has also forced him to examine his own Jewish identity and his relationships with his Jewish friends, and to forensically examine the basis of the critiques of Israel.

At a time of rising anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, My Life as a Jew is a controversial book. It is also a vital book. It should be read by activists for Israel and Zionism, as well as for the Palestinians. It should be read by readers of all political stripes. It should be read by journalists, as it is in part about journalism and its failings. And it should also be read by people interested in the remarkable life and career of its author, Michael Gawenda.


'Audacious, pained, heartfelt- I couldn't put it down.'
-Helen Garner

'I thought I understood everything there was to understand about my own life as a Jew. But Michael Gawenda's fearless, magisterial book, tracing an arc from Hannah Arendt's "banality of evil" to the casual dinner-party anti-Semitism of contemporary leftists, cracked me open, and nothing has been the same for me since.'
-Julie Szego, writer and journalist

'A great book - an enthralling and luminous journey, a love letter to the Jewish people, and a courageous statement of belief, brilliantly written.'
-Sam Lipski, former editor-in-chief, Australian Jewish News

About the Author

Michael Gawenda is one of Australia's best-known journalists and authors. In a career spanning four decades, he was a political reporter, a foreign correspondent based in London and in Washington, a columnist, a feature writer, and a senior editor at Time Magazine. He was editor and editor-in-chief of The Age from 1997 to 2004. Michael Gawenda has won numerous journalism awards, including three Walkley awards. He was the inaugural director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne, and is the author of four books.

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