An award-winning war correspondent files penetrating stories of Israel containing scant politics and much personal observation.
Fletcher (Breaking News: A Stunning and Memorable Account of Reporting from Some of the Most Dangerous Places in the World, 2008, etc.), the longtime NBC News bureau chief in Tel Aviv, walked the length of Israel from the Lebanese border to Gaza. His trek took him from Galilee to Achziv and a surviving kibbutz, Acre to Haifa and Herzliya, Tel Aviv-Jaffa to Ashkelon, and finally a sighting of Gaza City. Though exceedingly difficult both physically and mentally, the trip provides an engaging portrait of an Israel for which the author cares deeply. No longer a dispassionate broadcaster, Fletcher candidly observes cultural and geographical diversity in a disputed and disputative place, and he encountered many likable and articulate people along the way—Arabs and Jews, Muslims and Zionists, Palestinians and Israelis. They all emerged from simple stereotypes to reveal the famously complex character of the Holy Land, along with the spectacular geography and unrivaled history. With consideration of today’s kibbutzim and the plight of veterans of the Shoah, the author provides insight into the methods of soldiering and considers the predicament of Israeli Arabs. Still, he writes, the norm is coexistence, and mosques, churches and synagogues are neighbors that are not always at odds. From the world’s tinderbox, Fletcher, a son of Holocaust survivors, is a quiet but strong and vital voice amid all the shouting. “I wondered which was closer to the true nature of life in Israel—lazing on the beach with a book or running to the bomb shelter with a baby?,” he writes. “And if it’s a bit of both, then truly, this place must drive you crazy—like a serial bungee jumper guessing when the rope will break.”
A dogged reporter reveals essential truths, from his home and his heart, never broadcast on the evening news—a welcome bit of sanity.