The New Bitcoin (Tablet Magazine, Dec. 7, 2021)

The incredible strength of the shekel is playing havoc with Israel’s economy, while leaving its humble and egalitarian past in the dust MATTI FRIEDMAN For people of my disposition, the financial news is a blur in the background: a graph in the newspaper, a ticker with ominous acronyms, a smattering of words like “fiscal,” which have an effect equivalent to …

The Mysteries of “King Solomon’s Mines” (Smithsonian, cover story, Dec. 2021)

Photo: Yadid Levy   An Archaeological Dig Reignites the Debate Over the Old Testament’s Historical Accuracy Beneath a desert in Israel, a scholar and his team are unearthing astonishing new evidence of an advanced society in the time of the biblical Solomon Matti Friedman If you stand on one of the outcroppings of the Timna valley, the most salient fact …

The Next Lebanon War (Tablet Magazine, Sept. 10, 2021)

By Matti Friedman (Read the piece in Tablet here.) The rule for watching the Israel-Lebanon frontier is that although nothing seems to be going on, something always is. Nothing seemed to be going on, for example, on one of the afternoons I recently spent along the electrified fence trying to sense the course of events this fraught summer, gazing out …

Israel’s Country Music Wizard (Tablet Magazine, July 8, 2021)

Kobi Oz might be the most influential musician in Israel. His songs brought Mizrahi stylings into the mainstream, painting a vivid portrait of a place coming to terms with its Middle Eastern identity. By Matti Friedman (Read the piece in Tablet here.) Who is the most important Israeli musician of the last generation? Not the most gifted or popular, but …

Building Israel’s Dust City (Tablet Magazine, Aug. 10, 2021)

Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO After decades of great expectations, Beersheba often seems like a lost cause. But a recent visit revealed a city finally on the cusp of a breakthrough. (Read the piece in Tablet here.) Every city is a battle against entropy, and Beersheba (to paraphrase a famous saying about Jews) is like other cities, but more so. There’s …

Kids Need Dirt and Danger (The Atlantic, June 16, 2021)

Photo courtesy of Elisha Haas Malka Haas turned children loose to play with discarded objects, giving them a different sort of preparation for life. By Matti Friedman (Read the piece in The Atlantic here.) When you pass the kindergarten at Sde Eliyahu, a kibbutz near the Jordan River in northern Israel, you might not recognize it. Instead, you’ll see a yard for …

Theodor Herzl Is Alive and Well and Living in New York (Tablet Magazine, June 3, 2021)

(Read the piece at Tablet here.) A few weeks ago, between watching thugs drive through north London shouting “F*** the Jews, rape their daughters,” and reading a tweet from an American TV personality with a pink bikini and 275,000 Twitter followers that read “These Jewish people are really killing children,” I picked up a vintage hardcover that was gathering dust …

Jerusalem of Glue (Tablet Magazine, May 11, 2021)

  (Read the piece at Tablet here.) The idea of a complex place is anathema to the current mood in America and the West, where many people seem to be regressing to a world of childhood, of heroes and monsters. As I sit here typing by a window in Jerusalem, many seem to believe that Israel is attacking Muslim worshippers at …

Israel’s Problems Are Not Like America’s (The Atlantic, May 24, 2021)

When many Westerners peer out at the world, what they’re really looking for is a mirror. By Matti Friedman Rereading exodus, the schmaltzy 1958 best seller about Israel that became a Hollywood movie starring Paul Newman, I was surprised by something I hadn’t noticed as a teenager. The author, Leon Uris, describes a utopia of brave young pioneers in khaki shorts, farming when …