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The Land of Hope and Fear : Israel's battle for its inner soul - Isabel Kershner

The Land of Hope and Fear

Israel's battle for its inner soul

By: Isabel Kershner

Paperback | 1 August 2023

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A correspondent who has spent thirty years in Israel - the last fifteen for The New York Times - presents a rich, wide-ranging portrait of the Israeli people today at a critical juncture in their country's history.

Despite Israel's determined staying power in a hostile environment, its military might, and the innovation it fosters in businesses globally, the country is more divided than ever. The old guard - socialist secular elites and idealists - are a dying breed, and the state's democratic foundations are being challenged. A dynamic and exuberant country of nine million, Israel is now largely composed of native-born Hebrew speakers, and yet any permanent sense of security and normalcy is elusive. Plagued by perennial conflict and existential threats, Israelis - Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, Eastern and Western, liberals and zealots - remain deeply polarised politically, socially, and ideologically, even as they undergo generational change and redefine what it is to be an Israeli. Who are these people, and to what do they aspire?

In moving narratives and with on-the-ground reporting, Isabel Kershner reveals the core of what holds Israel together and the forces that threaten its future through the lens of real people- the son of Zionist pioneers, cynical about what is to come and his people's status in it; a woman in her nineties whose life in a kibbutz has disintegrated; a brilliant poet caught up in the political maelstrom; an Arab gallery owner archiving a lost Palestinian landscape; and a descendant of the Russian aliyah, representing millions of culturally and religiously different Jews, laying bare the question, Who is an Israeli? The Land of Hope and Fear decodes Israel today at its seventy-fifth anniversary, examining the ways in which the country has both exceeded and failed the ideals and expectations of its founders.

About the Author

Isabel Kershner was born and raised in Manchester, England, and graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Oriental Studies. After working for a political-risk consultancy in London, she migrated to Israel. In 2007, she became a correspondent for The New York Times in Jerusalem, covering both Israeli and Palestinian politics and society. Previously, she was a senior editor for the Middle East and Palestinian affairs at The Jerusalem Report. She is the author of Barrier- the seam of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has been living with her family in Jerusalem since 1990.
Industry Reviews
'Once I started reading The Land of Hope and Fear I couldn't put it down until I finished. For someone living in this country it felt nonetheless as if I was learning about it for the first time. With masterful style, Isabel Kershner peels off all the outer layers of society's multifaceted aspects as these are seen by an onlooker, revealing them through the personal stories and eyes of the individuals themselves hidden behind their typologies. Whether one sympathises or not, one understands more. Israel in its tumultuous eighth decade is laid bare, its inner strengths and weaknesses enmeshed in a vibrant dynamic that both promises and forewarns.'
-Sari Nusseibeh, author of Once Upon a Country

'For all those looking for a book that provides an understanding of what Israel has become as it approaches its 75th year, this is it! The Land of Hope and Fear is a rich and wondrous tale told through the agonising and uplifting stories of Israel's many tribes - Jewish and Arab, religious and secular, new immigrants and veterans, soldiers and settlers. Isabel Kershner brings a keen eye and a vivid style to her unique portrait of the Sabra nation, struggling with its many conflicts and contradictions and yet able to survive and thrive.'
-Martin Indyk, author of Master of the Game, and former US ambassador to Israel

'Isabel Kershner's comprehensive mapping of the challenges facing the Zionist Dream creates a bold and compelling portrait of modern-day Israel - its complexities and polarising passions and commitments - and does it with great empathy and deep concern.'
-Dorit Rabinyan, author of All the Rivers

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