Naomi Ragen is an American-born novelist, playwright and journalist who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. Naomi has written for the Jerusalem Post and other publications in Israel and abroad, as well as to her mailing list, about Israel and Jewish issues.

Naomi's tenth novel The Devil in Jerusalem has been chosen by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency as the number one Jewish book of the season.
The story - inspired by true events - begins with an ambulance screaming through Jerusalem’s quiet streets. Inside, a toddler fights for his life, his parents nowhere to be found. With profound shock, an emergency room doctor realizes that the child’s mother, a young American, is already at the hospital sitting at the bedside of yet another child with traumatic injuries, devoutly reciting Psalms and stubbornly refusing to answer any questions. “שטן
The Devil in Jerusalem is a chilling tale of the paths that so easily lead us astray, and the darkness within us all. Click the book’s cover to learn more.

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Naomi has published ten internationally best-selling novels, and is the author of a hit play (Women's Minyan) that has been performed more than 500 times in Israel's National Theatre (Habimah) as well as in the United States and Argentina.
An Orthodox woman, feminist and iconoclast, Naomi is a tireless advocate for women's rights in Israel, waging a relentless campaign against domestic abuse and bias in rabbinical courts, as well as a successful Supreme Court case against gender segregation on Israeli buses.
With her tenth novel, The Devil in Jerusalem, Naomi continues her ground-breaking exploration of women in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish world she began in 1989 with Jephte's Daughter, followed by Sotah and The Sacrifice of Tamar.
Naomi is a sought-after lecturer all over the world. If your group is interested in hosting Naomi, please click here.

October 2016 - The Devil in Jerusalem is published in paperback.
November 2015 - The Jewish Telegraphic Agency puts The Devil in Jerusalem at the top of its list of the best Jewish books of the season.
November 2015 - Naomi lectured in Newton (MA), Boca Raton (FL), Miami (FL), St. Louis (MO), New York City, Atlanta (GA), Cherry Hill (NJ) and Santa Fe (NM).
“שטןAugust 2015 - Naomi’s new book, שטן בירושלים, a translation of The Devil in Jerusalem, is published.
Le Dixieme Chant8-19 March 2015 - Naomi toured France and Switzerland, speaking to her readers in Paris, Marseilles, Strasbourg and Geneva about her new French book, Le Dixieme Chant, a translation of The Tenth Song.
12-20 November 2014 - Naomi lectured at the Windsor Writer’s Conference in Windsor, ON as well as in Detroit, Toronto and Winnipeg.
The Sisters Weiss7 October 2014 - Naomi's ninth novel, The Sisters Weiss, was published in paperback. It's the story of two sisters from an ultra-Orthodox family in 1950s Brooklyn who take very different paths, and then find their lives unexpectedly intersecting again forty years later. To order the book from Amazon, click the book cover above.

8-17 August 2014 - Naomi was the scholar-in-residence on Kosherica's Kosher Baltic Cruise aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines Star. The 9 night cruise visited Copenhagen, Rostock, Tallinn, Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Stockholm.

Salone Internazionale del Libro 8-9 May 2014 - Naomi took part in a panel discussion on women in Israel, together with Fiamma Nirenstein and Elena Loewenthal, at the Salone Internazionale del Libro 2014 in Turin, Italy.

December 2013 - Watch an interview (in French) with Naomi about her struggle against the haredi war on women in Israel.
Watch an interview (in French) with Naomi about Le Serment.

December 2013 - Naomi visited Île-de-France to promote her new book Le serment (the French translation of The Covenant).

Sotah 15 March 2012 - Sotah was published in Italian as L'amora proibito. Read a review (in Italian).

Jephte's Daughter March 2012 - Jephte's Daughter was published in an Italian paperback edition, as Una moglie a Gerusalemme.

Le Fantôme de Dona Gracia Mendes October 2011 - The Ghost of Hannah Mendes was published in French as Le Fantôme de Dona Gracia Mendes. Read a review (in French).

The Tenth Song October 2011 - The Tenth Song was published in paperback.

May 2011 - Four-time Tony nominee Tovah Feldshuh directed a staged reading of Women's Minyan at New York's Westside Theater. The reading was produced by One Circle Productions, in partnership with Safe Horizon.

Watch the reading. Watch an interview with Naomi and Tovah Feldshuh.

Le serment November 2013 - The Covenant was published in French as Le serment.

November 2013 - Watch an interview with Naomi by Sharon Mor of Shaulina Productions about Naomi's new book The Sisters Weiss in Hebrew or in English.

6 November 2013 - Israel's Supreme Court reversed the District Court's decision against Naomi in the Shapiro case and ordered Shapiro to return the money she was awarded. Naomi agreed that the money be donated to charity.
October-November 2013 - Naomi toured the US, visiting twelve US cities and speaking about her new book, The Sisters Weiss.
The Sisters Weiss October 2013 - Naomi's ninth novel, The Sisters Weiss, was published. Read an article about it in the San Diego Jewish World.
Chains Around the Grass August 2013 - Chains Around the Grass was published in an Amazon Kindle edition.
July 2013 - An interview with Naomi about her trips to Spain to research her best-selling The Ghost of Hannah Mendes was featured in Jewish Travel.
December 2012 - Naomi's play Women's Minyan was performed by the West Boca Theatre Company at the Levis JCC in Boca Raton, Florida.
November 2012 - Naomi visited Île-de-France speaking about her books.
5 November 2012 - Naomi spoke at the Cockfosters and North Southgate Synagogue in London, England.


Fighting the Myth-makers from Hell

Without a vigorous Israeli defense, the video, freely and widely distributed by France 2, became the iconic excuse for barbaric terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.

Had it not been for Israeli physicist Nahum Shahaf, the al-Dura affair would have been left a horrible blot on the honor of our country, our people.

It was close to thirteen years ago when I first sat, glued to my television set with horror, watching the footage of Muhammad al-Dura broadcast by France 2, a French public television station. It was September 30, 2000. Just two days before, Ariel Sharon had visited the Aqsa mosque. Little did we realize how the “outrage” at that visit and that video were being carefully orchestrated to allow Palestinian terrorists the pretext they sought to abandon all pretense of “negotiating for peace” as they ignited the horrors of the infamous second intifada, which took the lives of a thousand Israelis, very nearly including my own as I sat with my family in the Park Hotel on Passover eve 2002.

From the beginning, I admit, I couldn’t believe it. The IDF targeting unarmed civilians, deliberately killing a child? No way! I waited for the IDF to share my outrage and issue a public denial. Instead, what I heard was a mumbled apology by an obviously confused IDF spokesperson who while not admitting it, didn’t deny it either.

Indeed, had it not been for Israeli physicist Nahum Shahaf, the al-Dura affair would have been left there, a horrible blot on the honor of our country and our people. Shahaf, however, unlike most of us, got off the couch and devoted himself to finding the truth. Given permission by General Yom-Tov Samia, then the head of the IDF Southern Command, who appointed him as head of the IDF committee to investigate the incident, he restaged it, showing convincingly that the Palestinian narrative was impossible. But an article in Haaretz belittling his qualifications led then IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz to distance himself from Shahaf, the first in a long line of disgraceful Israeli moves abandoning all efforts to clear the name of Israel of this ugly lie.

Without a vigorous Israeli defense, the video, freely and widely distributed by France 2, became the iconic excuse for barbaric terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.

“You are child killers, and so we have no choice but to become child killers as well” was the cynical cry of the murderers who blew up our buses and baby carriages; a cry accepted and heeded by the Western media and otherwise civilized people all over the world.

The Israeli reaction, although terribly wrong, was human. Why bring this terrible story back to life, have the photos recirculated, just to have a hostile, careless world condemn Israeli all over again? Better to let it die quietly.

I realized that I was guilty of the same reasoning during a chance meeting with Dr. Richard Landes, an early online activist who fought the al-Dura myth, and who happened to be my son’s neighbor and friend in Boston.

Dr. Landes invited us for Shabbat lunch. “You should really see the work I’m doing about al-Dura,” he offered, explaining that he had uploaded footage not yet seen by the public.

“Oh, no,” I grimaced.

“Now, that’s the reaction I’m getting from many people,” he complained. “Why is that?”

“It’s because, whatever you write about it, no one wants to look at those horrible pictures of a dying child again! We want it to go away.”

He looked at me as if I was a child who had disappointed him. “It’s not going away. It’s vital that people understand the truth. The entire incident was staged. You really need to look at this.”

That night, I did. As I reluctantly watched, my eyes opened in amazement.

Why, it was so clear! The Israelis were not in a position to have fired at the child at all. And there was no hellish gunfire, certainly not the 45 minutes of it France 2 claimed. There were also no holes in al-Dura’s clothes where his father claimed he’d been shot and most tellingly, not a drop of blood anywhere.

Moreover, the shadows on the floors and walls showed it had been taken at the time of day al-Dura was supposedly already dead in the hospital.

But most importantly, at the very end, in footage never aired, the “dead” boy looked up and raised his elbow, before obviously being told to go back and play dead once more.

It is clear from other tapes that fake scenes were being filmed all the time, with Palestinians falling “dead” then getting up; a “dead” man falling off a funeral pallet then climbing back on.

“It’s Pallywood,” Dr. Landes said, coining the perfect term for it.

Interestingly, Israel’s supporters outside the country were the ones who fearlessly picked up the gauntlet. In addition to Bostonbased Landes, there was German television journalist Esther Shapira, who came determined to condemn Israel and, after realizing the truth, wound up debunking the entire incident, as well as France-based writer Nidra Poller.

But most of all, the fight was taken up by charming French politician and Jew, Philippe Karsenty, head of the media watchdog group Media-Ratings, who invested 11 years of his life and enormous personal resources in outing the French libel, fearlessly taking on France 2 and its bureau chief Charles Enderlin, a friend of Shimon Peres and all-around media bigshot who had narrated the footage but had been nowhere near the actual filming.

Publicly calling the France 2 report and footage a fraud, he called for Enderlin’s resignation for “being misled and misleading others.” Karsenty was promptly sued for libel by France 2.

Against the recommendation of the public prosecutor, who argued Karsenty had presented ample evidence and was entitled to freedom of speech, the court found Karsenty guilty and ordered him to pay a symbolic fine of one euro to each plaintiff.

But in September 2007, the Eleventh Chamber of the Appeals Court of Paris heard Karsenty’s appeal. When the judge demanded that France 2 turn over its 27 minutes of raw footage, Enderlin suddenly claimed the footage “wasn’t relevant,” bringing only 18 minutes with the excuse that the agonizing death throes of the child had been cut out to “spare the viewer.”

But three respected French journalists who had been invited by France 2 to see the entire footage testified that the “agony” described by Enderlin didn’t exist and in fact the footage withheld revealed that the boy was still alive.

Karsenty won his appeal on May 21, 2008.

The judges had harsh words for Enderlin’s journalistic ethics.

France 2 went to the Supreme Court, which annulled the lower court’s ruling over a technicality. Apparently, under French law, the Appeals Court had overstepped its bounds by looking at the tapes at all! Putting off its decision time and again, the court finally ruled against Karsenty on June 26, throwing out his victory for truth and instead ordering him to pay 7,000 euros in compensation to Enderlin and France 2 over their damaged “honor.”

According to Karsenty, while they’ve condemned him, they have still not provided him with the reasoning behind their verdict.

In an interview conducted by The Algemeiner, Karsenty called it a “dark day for democracy in France and a dark day for truth.” Asked in 2008 if there was a French bias against Jews, Karsenty said the following: “Yes, the French will never forgive Jews for exposing French collaboration in the Holocaust. This is one motivation for depicting Israel as a Nazi state.

It is the French way of saying ‘We behaved no worse than the Jews do now.’” All this time, Israeli journalists including Gideon Levy, Arad Nir and Tom Segev have done their best to ridicule and discredit anyone questioning the al-Dura myth. The Israeli government has repeatedly done nothing to help Karsenty financially or morally, even though he is clearly fighting their battle.

Indeed, The Kuperwasser Report, the first Israeli attempt to exonerate Israel and undo the damage of its decade-long silence on the al-Dura blood libel, would probably never have been written if people like Karsenty hadn’t kept the debate alive.

Karsenty, Shahaf, Landes, Shapira, Poller and others are angels who stepped in where the Israeli government feared to tread, proving themselves true Jewish heroes, men and women who fought for truth and exposed terrorist lies and blood libels responsible for Jewish deaths, including that of Myriam Monsenego, the French child shot by a Muslim barbarian who cited revenge for al-Dura as a motive.

While former president Nicolas Sarkozy honored Charles Enderlin with the Legion of Honor, we Jews have yet to honor these heroes with anything. I propose the Israel Prize. At least.

In the meantime I thank them all for their tireless efforts to bring light into the darkness.

I thank them on my own behalf, and on behalf of the people of Israel and Jews everywhere.

This article was originally published in the Jerusalem Post on 12 July 2013.

9 comments to Fighting the Myth-makers from Hell

  • M Hyman

    This is probably a good place to mention that a book is coming out soon which dispels another Myth-Maker from Hell, specifically, the conspiracy theories concerning the June 8, 1967 Israeli attack on the USS Liberty. It is entitled, The Liberty Incident Revealed. The author is Capt. A Jay Cristol, USN (Ret.) JD, PhD. The publisher is US Naval Institute Press. It should be out in September. If someone is looking for information to finally shut-up the Liberty conspiracy theorists, then Cristol is the person to do it–he’s an excellent researcher. Recently, there has been a great deal of information released from the NSA via the Freedom of Information Act which when analyzed proves Israel did not have a clue that Liberty was a US ship (they thought it was Egyptian).

    The USS Liberty was an American Spook Boat (a vessel used to gather intelligence by intercepting communications, radar, and so on), similar somewhat to the USS Pueblo (captured by North Korea in 1968). It was in international waters when attacked. For years, conspiracy theorists have promoted the vacuous idea that Israel intentionally attacked the Liberty in order to stop her from relaying information concerning IDF movements to the Egyptians.

  • Yehudah

    You say the French were doing this because Israel exposed how the French helped the Germans in the war. This is true. But look at it this way. The French are getting their pay back, along with the British who are just as antisemitic. Look at what the Islamics are doing in both these countries.
    There is a higher authority watching Israel and it isn’t the United States either.

  • Victor

    At long last someone with the guts to stand up to the French Jew haters.

  • M Hyman

    The liberal faction within the American, French, and British Jewish populations has empowered pan Arabism and
    islamo fascism to thrive throughout the world and for the most part to morally thrive unchallenged. A perfect case in point can be seen by examining the events leading to the death of Kenyon College student, Andrew Pochter. Pochter,
    the son of a Catholic mother and a Jewish father was raised as a practicing Catholic. He spent one year in Morocco to improve his Arabic (he did not speak Hebrew), became a member of various Arab student organizations (all anti Israel), and had intentions to spend a year in Amman, Jordan, once his activities in Egypt were completed. A year before entering Egypt, Pochter and another Kenyon student (Sarah Gold, dressed in a Kafiah and looking like a character from John le Carré’s novel, The Little Drummer Girl) made an extremely pro Palestinian, anti Israel video. Frankly, the only thing Jewish about this guy was his father. And yet, the Yiddish Daily Forward along with the Huffington Post promoted Pochter as a “lad [he was twenty-one] who sacrificed his life for Jewish values.” The Left–in particular, the Jewish left–is willing to sacrifice
    Jewish history, tradition, and Jewish safety, in order to promote its idealistic but vacuous appetition for a
    coordinated Middle East (with further hopes of achieving a unified, stateless, integrated, world society). The Jewish left has sacrificed its birthright for a bowl of porridge–for what they consider a higher good–and are more than willing to sacrifice Israel in achieving their dream. I truly believe that were persons such as these able to undo their Brit Milah, the waiting list for surgery would be long: “We have met the enemy and he is us” (Walt Kelley, The Pogo Papers, 1953).

  • Naomi,
    Unfortunately we are a world of sheep. Thankfully, we have a few courageous shepherds such as yourself watching out for us. The al-Dura affair will not, in my opinion, ever be brought to light as the fraud it is until such time as someone stands Mohammed as-Dura in front of a camera and shows him to be still breathing and very much alive. We are now so very much inured to fake video that we don’t even recognize real video.
    Toda Rabah for all you do. Please continue to hold the staff and care for the flock.

  • ruth Berman

    Thank you for bringing the truth to light. I have always suspected it. My question: why doesn’t Israel gov’t want the truth to be out?xyn

  • Jeannette Noteboom

    Dear Naomi,
    Thank you for you article.
    I want to point out to you one of the reasons for the French attitude toward Israel/Jews. The French were the driving force behind the EAD (Euro Arab Dialogue, ratified in 1974 by the then 9 EEC countries.
    Its 3 pillars are: 1)anti-America, 2)anti-Israel/Zionism and 3)pro Palestinian. This was kept from us the ignorant public.
    Bat Ye’or documents this extensively in her “must-read” book: Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis.
    Many things will become clear when you know of this background.

    Thank you for what you are doing to bring out the truth.

    Sincerely, Jeannette Noteboom

  • Gemma Blech

    Naomi – really well done thanks, Gemma [WIG]

  • judith

    well done. Time someone stood up forthe truth