I Am Not a Spy

I Am Not a Spy : An American Jew Goes Deep in the Arab World & Israeli Army

4.3 (20 ratings by Goodreads)
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The true story of an idealistic young American Jew committed to promoting peace and reconciliation in the Middle East.

Few American college students who study abroad receive constant accusations of being a spy. But that's what happens to Michael Bassin, enrolled for a semester exchange at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

When Michael, despite advice to the contrary, reveals his Jewish identity to his new classmates, students, faculty, and the secret police respond with shock and suspicion.

In between visiting Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and northern India, Michael develops die-hard enemies and loyal allies on campus. He is thrown into the role of reluctant ambassador for the Jewish people, for America, and for Israel as he responds to the conspiracies and threats made against him.

Nevertheless, he finds his efforts to promote understanding are not in vain. As he develops genuine friendships, he sees the positive effects of face-to-face interaction with people who had never met a Jew before.

But Michael's fight for peace doesn't end with his university experience. He moves to Israel and joins the Israeli army as a combat Arabic translator, becoming the face and voice of his unit during both friendly and hostile interactions with Palestinians in the West Bank.

While enforcing an occupation about which he feels conflicted, Michael once again finds that person to person relationships provide the best path to peace in the Middle East.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 334 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 19mm | 490g
  • English
  • 1937178889
  • 9781937178888
  • 1,450,897

Review quote

"Michael Bassin has given us an indispensable understanding of why Arab-Israeli peace continues to elude the diplomats, even as he imagines
a future Middle East freed of its poisonous obsession with Israel and the Jews."
--Yossi Klein Halevi, Senior fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute

..".extremely entertaining and well-written memoir...."
--Khaled Abu Toameh, Palestinian Affairs columnist for the Jerusalem Post

..".a unique and refreshing story of understanding and misunderstanding in the Middle East."
--Josh Block, CEO of The Israel Project

"Bassin undertook the daunting experiment of studying in the Arab world and revealing his Jewish identity....The resulting adventure is a vicarious pleasure."
--Dr. Daniel Pipes, President of the Middle East Forum

"I Am Not a Spy is a fascinating read... sometimes funny, sometimes tragic..."
--Danny Ayalon, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister and Israeli Ambassador to the United States

"The chapters in particular on the UAE present a little reported picture of life in that country, for foreigners and Emiratis alike. A worthy book containing fascinating insights."
--Dr. Jonathan Spyer, Director of the Rubin Center and author of The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

"With endless optimism and a sense of adventure, I Am Not a Spy captures the essence of Jews facing Arabs, and to no lesser degree, of Israel in the Middle East."
--Elhanan Miller, Journalist and Palestinian politics researcher at the Forum for Regional Thinking

"This candid memoir shows the challenges--the pervasive disinformation and enmity--that peacemakers face in the Middle East.... A must-read for those who want a genuine account of public opinion on the streets of the Arab world."
--Ilan Grapel, former American-Israeli political prisoner in Egypt
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Rating details

20 ratings
4.3 out of 5 stars
5 50% (10)
4 35% (7)
3 10% (2)
2 5% (1)
1 0% (0)
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