Twelve Tribes

Promise and Peril in the New Israel

by Ethan Michaeli

On Sale: 11/16/2021

Twelve Tribes

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Twelve Tribes

Promise and Peril in the New Israel

by Ethan Michaeli

On Sale: 11/16/2021


About the Book

A groundbreaking portrait of contemporary Israel by award-winning author Ethan Michaeli, who documents the nation at its most volatile moment by weaving together the personal histories of Holocaust survivors, tech millionaires, Torah scholars, Ethiopian Prisoners of Zion, Russian emigres, West Bank settlers, and Palestinians. 

In 2015, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin warned in a speech to political and military leaders that the country’s citizens were dividing into tribes: by class and ethnicity, by geography, and above all along lines of religion, proclaiming: “In the State of Israel the basic systems that form peoples’ consciousness are tribal and separate, and will most likely remain so.”

In Twelve Tribes, award-winning journalist Ethan Michaeli captures this increasingly fractured Israel, weaving together the personal histories of Israelis of all tribes into a narrative of social and political change. Readers of Twelve Tribes will meet the aging revolutionaries who founded Israel’s kibbutz movement and the brilliant young people working for the country’s booming Big Tech companies. They will join thousands of ultra-Orthodox Haredim at a joyous memorial for a long-dead Romanian Rebbe at a cemetery in a suburb of Tel Aviv, and marvel at the life experience of Belaynesh Zevadia, who came to Israel from Ethiopia on her own, and decades later returned to her birth country as the ambassador from Israel. And they will be challenged, in turn, by portraits of Israeli Arabs navigating between the opportunities in a prosperous, democratic state and the discrimination they suffer as a vilified minority, as by conversations with Palestinians who are striving to build the institutions of a nascent state, and by the Israeli settlers who are seeking to establish a Jewish presence on the same land.

Framed by Michaeli’s own experience as an American with family roots in Israel, Twelve Tribes will illuminate the complex dynamics within the country, a collective drama which has global consequences far beyond the ongoing conflict with the Palestinians. Through extensive research and access to all sectors of Israeli society, Michaeli reveals Israel as a land of paradoxical intersections and volatile, unlikely cohabitation—a place where all of the world’s struggles meet, and a microcosm for the challenges faced by all nations today. 

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

“An extraordinary history…Deeply researched, elegantly written…a towering achievement that will not be soon forgotten.” - Brent Staples, New York Times Book Review on The Defender

"Conscientiously researched and fluent, The Defender is essentially a record of the African-American struggle in our times.”  - Wall Street Journal on The Defender

"Ethan Michaeli’s epic, meticulously detailed account not only reminds its readers that newspapers matter, but so do black lives, past and present."  - USA Today on The Defender

“This prodigiously researched work is a testament to the courage of Defender writers through the century, a chronicle of the influence of an important institution—and a sweeping history of black America.”  - National Book Review on The Defender

“A fascinating account of the legendary black newspaper that spoke truth to power, fought for equality and made history.”  - Minneapolis Star Tribune on The Defender


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062688859
  • ISBN 10: 0062688855
  • Imprint: Custom House
  • On Sale: 11/16/2021
  • Pages: 320
  • List Price:36.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : HISTORY / Middle East / Israel & Palestine
  • BISAC2 : POLITICAL SCIENCE / World / Middle Eastern
  • BISAC3 : RELIGION / Judaism / History

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