John le Carré wasn’t a spy novelist at all (Globe and Mail, Dec. 17, 2020)

  MATTI FRIEDMAN SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL Dec. 17, 2020 At the very end of The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, the book that made John le Carré’s career at the height of the Cold War in 1963, there’s a memorable monologue delivered by Alec Leamas, the dissolute British agent who is the novel’s main character. …

Israel’s Russian Wave, Thirty Years Later (Mosaic Magazine, Nov. 2, 2020)

Three decades ago, a million emigres from Eastern Europe arrived in Israel, increasing its population by 20 percent almost overnight and changing its culture forever. What’s their story?   Great changes in Jewish history have manifested themselves in pillars of smoke, talking bushes, royal edicts, and divine scriptures, but probably never in TV crime dramas—at least not until a few …

“Veritas” review, Jewish Review of Books (Sept. 15, 2020)

The Professor and the Con Man By Matti Friedman The Jewish Review of Books, September 15, 2020 The saga of the papyrus that became famous as the Gospel of Jesus’s Wife began with an email sent to Karen King, a distinguished Harvard professor, in July 2010. The subject line read, simply, “Coptic gnostic gospels in my collection.” The “gospel” in question …

Aliens Are Protesting in Israel. They Still Can’t Beat Bibi (New York Times, Aug. 13, 2020)

This summer’s protests against the prime minister have given Israel’s toothless left an outlet — but not power. By Matti Friedman The New York Times Aug. 13, 2020 Demonstrators dressed as aliens during a protest against the Israeli government near the prime minister’s residence on Aug. 8.Credit…Guy Prives/Getty Images JERUSALEM — Just when Israeli democracy most needed saviors, they materialized. No one …

Israel Was Ground Zero for the New Woke Religion (Tablet, July 27, 2020)

How coverage of the Jewish state became a signifier of the ideological activism that now permeates Western culture MATTI FRIEDMAN Tablet Magazine July 27, 2020 A video cameraman for the Reuters News Agency in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April, 2002. CHRIS HONDROS/GETTY IMAGES This year many people have discovered that liberal life and institutions in the West are in …

The Last Remnants of the Israeli Left (New York Times, April 27, 2020)

The Last Remnants of the Israeli Left If you seek the socialist vision of this country’s founders, it’s no longer in the Knesset — it’s on the wall. By Matti Friedman The New York Times, April 27, 2020 Children playing in the garden in the new neighborhood in Kibbutz Ma’aleh Ha-Hamisha. Credit: Dan Balilty for The New York Times MA’ALEH HA-HAMISHA, Israel …

Speaking dates, November 2019

A few upcoming dates in the U.S. (click on date for more details): Wednesday, November 6 7:30-9:30 pm, Alper JCC Book Festival program, at Temple Judea in Coral Gables, FL Thursday, November 7 7:30-9:30 pm, Levis JCC Sandler Center, B’nai Torah Congregation of Boca Raton, FL Monday, November 11 1:00-3:00 pm, Columbia Hillel, NYC (details to come) Tuesday, November 12 …

Netflix’s “The Spy” review (Mosaic, Oct. 29, 2019)

Netflix’s “The Spy” Manages to Convey the Ethnic Irony at the Heart of Eli Cohen’s Life Mosaic Magazine, Oct. 29 By Matti Friedman I’ve been wondering for years why no one has ever made a good Mossad movie. From The Little Drummer Girl (1984) to Munich (2005) to awkward fictions in between, Hollywood has never managed a portrayal of the Israeli secret service that …

The One Thing No Israeli Wants to Discuss (New York Times, Sept. 9, 2019)

The decisive factor in next week’s election — and the reason for Benjamin Netanyahu’s durability — is a repressed memory. By Matti Friedman JERUSALEM — When trying to understand Israel’s election on Sept. 17, the second in the space of six months, you can easily get lost in the details — corruption charges, coalition wrangling, bickering between left and right. But the best explainer might …

Book tour dates, May 2019

A few upcoming dates in the U.S. and Canada: Thursday, May 2: Kansas City JCC, “Get Lit Author Event,” 7.pm. Details here. Friday-Sunday, May 3-5: Detroit, MI, Congregation Adat Shalom. Details here. Monday, May 6: New York, Park Ave. Synagogue, 7 p.m., with Mijal Bitton. Details here.   Thursday, May 9: New York, Columbia University Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, 7 p.m. Details here. …