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.

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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.


Join Naomi in New York at the Skirball Center's Meet the Author Evening on April 25, 2017 at 6:30PM.





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.


“LesDecember 2016 - Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss, is published.
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.

Categories

How Did We Get Here?

How did we get here? What is it going to take for this government to act in a responsible way which shows it is running a sovereign state?

Rockets launched from Gaza are falling again. Nothing new. What I love is the way the press reports this stuff: “The quiet was disturbed,” writes Ynet. It reminds me of what my daughter Rachel used to say on fast days when she was little: that she was weak from all the fasting she was doing between breakfast and lunch.

Enough with the phony Egyptian-brokered “cease-fires” that last only as long as it takes to reload. Enough with the warnings, the finger shaking, the attempts to hit back without hurting anyone so that it won’t “escalate.”

I’d call a dead Israeli and a missile in the backyard of a school an escalation.

What is it going to take for this government to act in a responsible way which shows it is running a sovereign state, not negotiating with the Czar’s police to prevent another pogrom?

And enough with phony labels: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Palestinian Authority, etc. They all want the same thing. They are all responsible.

I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of getting phone calls like the one I got from my daughter who lives in Rehovot. Rehovot! Nothing ever happens in Rehovot. All during the Yom Kippur War, the intifada, Operation Cast Lead, you name it, nothing happens there. Still, I got this phone call telling me about the siren that woke my granddaughter up in the middle of the night, terrifying her.

All during the intifada the geniuses running the government and the journalists at Haaretz, CNN and the BBC had an explanation for every bus bombing, every massacre at a wedding or bar mitzva.

We’d been targeted, they’d tell us, because after the last bus bombing, massacre, etc. we’d killed one or another of the despicable mass murderers Palestinians effortlessly produce in such abundance. We’d made them angry, they’d tell us.

Yes, it was true that before we responded they’d also been angry, but now, because of our response, they were really, really angry. And if we continued to respond they’d be really, really, really angry.

And thus, it was concluded, it was better not to respond, or, to use the new catchphrase, “to exercise restraint.”

Our prime minister assured us this week that restraint is not on his mind: “We are not engaging in rhetoric or looking for an escalation, but will protect ourselves according to these principles,” the principles being: get them before they get us, or failing that, after.

With the entire southern half of the country in the line of fire, and schools closed for days all over the south, how’s that working for you, Mr. Prime Minister?

And how, in heaven’s name, did we get here?

We could start with bringing Arafat in from Tunis so that Shimon Peres could get the Norwegians to cough up a much underserved prize. But let’s take it from the disengagement, that strange plan thought up by a Tel Aviv lawyer and his tired client, our then-prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

This is what they sold us: By unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, destroying productive Jewish settlements that served as a buffer zone between terrorists and the center of the country, throwing 10,000 people out into the streets, American pressure would stop, Palestinians would be shown for what they were and the peace process would be put in “formaldehyde.”

Or, as attorney Dov Weisglass told Haaretz’s Ari Shavit the day the plan was to be voted into law: “If Sharon’s disengagement plan is torpedoed, politically it will be cause for everlasting regret. Our achievements will be lost. The international community will lose patience with us. It will take the same attitude toward us as it does toward Arafat. We will very quickly find ourselves up against a Palestinian state that uses terror against us and up against a world that is becoming increasingly hostile. We will find ourselves in a tragedy.”

Oh, oh, the excitement over this amazing plan. Knesset members were waving their hands and frothing at the mouth.

Just look at the videos online.

Ran Cohen of Meretz, one of Israel’s delusional Leftists, insisted on the floor of the Knesset that “Disengagement is good for security.”

“Right-wingers are talking about Kassam rockets flying all over the place,” he said mockingly, waving his hands and smiling with derision. “But if we don’t leave Gaza, in three years the rockets will reach Ashkelon.”

Former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz of Kadima offered this: “I am convinced that the act is necessary and right and it can grant greater security… by reducing the burden on IDF forces, opening the door to a new reality.”

Ophir Paz-Pines of Labor said this: “I’ve just brought my son to the army recruitment center. I want to thank Ariel Sharon that my son will not have to serve the nation of Israel in the Gaza Strip.”

And lest we make a mistake, as did a cabdriver with whom I had a vociferous debate on the subject only recently, the Likud’s Binyamin Netanyahu also voted for it: “I will support the plan.” As did Yuval Steinitz: “This plan will improve our geopolitical situation.” Silvan Shalom, Limor Livnat and Yisrael Katz all supported it.

According to the IDF website: “Since Israel’s 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, the Hamas terrorist organization has turned Gaza into a central hub of terror activity.”

Undeterred by the facts, Weisglass said in 2008: “The fact that 7,500 civilians and four battalions of soldiers are no longer in the center of the Palestinian brimstone, is, in my eyes, the disengagement’s main accomplishment.”

That’s true. Now it’s a million Israelis and the entire army.

Hamas minister Fathi Hamad also admitted last week to Lebanese daily As-Safir that it was Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip that had enabled Hamas to hide kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit for so long, forcing the Israeli government to its knees and facilitating the release of hundreds of the worst terrorist scum in Israel’s jails.

With Saudi Prince Khaled bin Talal generously adding to the amount offered by Muslim cleric Dr. Awad al-Qarni for the kidnap of yet another Israeli soldier, bringing the sum to a round million dollars, we are glad to hear Schalit’s jail cell will still be available, thanks to our government’s policy.

Weisglass, who continues to talk and listen to himself, was also quoted this week in Yediot Aharonot saying that “Abbas must be saved because the help given to Hamas constitutes a terrible blow to the Palestinian Authority.”

I suppose he means we should let out any terrorist still left in our jails so that Abbas can also give his folks the “V” sign. Why not save the Saudis some money?

Shimon Peres told Lily Galili in Haaretz on July 5, 2008: “I did not imagine that we would leave Gaza and they would fire Kassams from there; I did not imagine that Hamas would show so strongly in the elections.”

At the inauguration of the Safed Medical School this week he said: “Why are they shooting?”

This past Sunday, a trip was organized to visit the Gush Katif expellees. I signed up, curious as to how these brave, much mistreated and maligned heroes were doing after six years. At 10 p.m. the night before, I got a phone call. Home Front Command had canceled the trip. Apparently, it was too dangerous for us to visit where the Gush Katif families are now living, sans bomb shelters with only IDF-supplied sewer pipes to run to when a siren goes off. You read that right. Sewer pipes.

Anita Tucker, who was supposed to have been our tour guide, met with me in Jerusalem instead. A former Gush Katif lettuce farmer from Netzer Hazani, Anita is a bundle of energy and optimism despite the tragedy that turned her home and business into rubble. The whole community of Netzer Hazani is rebuilding in Yesodot, near Kibbutz Hulda. But she admits it’s been difficult.

“It’s hard to educate your children and grandchildren to be proud citizens when they have to shelter in a sewer pipe,” she says. But anger is not part of her vocabulary. “It’s not constructive,” she says.

As for the current troubles with Gaza, she shrugs.

“Eventually, we’ll have no choice but to take it over again. It’s like rot. It has to be removed before it spreads and destroys the entire country.”

 

This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 4 November, 2011.

11 comments to How Did We Get Here?

  • TMay

    A columnist in LA Burt Prelutsky in one of his books said that after 1967 the Arabs approached Wall Street and said “What do we do to market our position?” and that Wall Street told them that it would be hard for them to play the minority victim card because there was 125 million Arabs surrounding 7 million Jews (and that number is conservative) and the Arabs have 625 times more land than Israel, so Wall Street said “so give yourselves a name that is different from “Arabs” so that we can turn you into a minority, and they did. I don’t know if he was being sarcastic but it rings true to me. So I think Israel needs to approach Wall Street and say we have to market our product “Israel” and our position. I think Israel needs to turn it over to professionals and not leave it up to people like Tzipi Livni to come up with campaigns that could hurt Israel’s relationship with Evangelical Christians who are Israel’s strongest supporters. This is too important to leave it with amateurs, and you’ve seen the results, Israel is losing the war of ideas.

    Israel should be the holy land. Israel has to stop teaching Israelis a politically correct version of history but the truth. Israel needs to stop apologizing for its existence and be proud. Israel has values. Jews led the world on decent values.

    Yet the Left with their slogans and their values that lead to failure have co-opted a good proportion of the Israeli population and of Jews abroad. Israel needs to fight psychologically not only the Arabs but the Left with the Left’s argument that Israel is illegitimate, their outright lies about apartheid, their seeing Israel as colonialist, their ridiculous argument about disproportionate force which has not been applied in history before and they pulled that idea out of their Utopia on earth comic book of wishes, and Israel needs to fight the cookie cutter world view of the Left that everyone, all countries, have to be the same, have the same gifts.

    And Israel needs to keep it simple. People who have negative opinions of Israel have not even absorbed the fact that it is the only Jewish country in the world. The book “Stand Up Nation” has talked about its entrepreneurial spirit, its can-do attitude. An organization called StandWithUs, to help, has come up with materials for college age children. I think they need materials with different pictures for younger children. I don’t know whether Israel needs to change its attitude towards Evangelicals or whether they already know they are friends.

    Personally I think Deuteronomy 30:19 is the difference between Israel and its neighbors. Israel chooses life. Israel chooses love. Israel chooses happiness. Israel practises gratitude. Israel has a purpose. Israel has meaning. Israel practises the Golden Rule. I could go on.

  • Alan

    As I read Naomi’s article, I saw the borders of Israel shrinking. It appears the liberal Jews of Israel and the liberal Jews of the U.S. are in lockstep. Be nice to everyone and they will be nice to you; talk with everyone and all can be resolved. That might work on the playground…it does not work with murderous scum.

    If we listen to the U.N., anything Israel does, short of giving the Arabs land, is wrong…and they can always show us why. This, a body who chose Quadiafi’s Libya to head up its commission on human rights. It exiists in the same sewrage hole where they found “Mr. Human Rights.” We have friends in this world, as we did in the holocaust during WWII. But, we must act, so their friendship doesn’t have to be shown clandestinely by hiding us from vermin, scum and murderers. We must prevent that from happening. We must protect ourselves and our generations.

    Israel must survive. By increasing our enemy, the murderers’ army with a release of 1,027 murderous insects for just one of us, it will not. This was a show of weakness to the cutthroats and arrogance to all that hate us. World Jewry notices and so does the rest of the world. Let them say what they will, we must live and breath…Isreal must stop placating its enemies. It must stop allowing the “Palestinians,” who are the scourge of the Arab world, be to Israel, what the Huns were to Rome. Rome placated the Huns with money and land, and the Roman empire fell. It fell broke and on fire. We gave them Gaza (doesn’t anyone read history?). They gave us rockets and more death. There will never be enough money or land. Start cutting off their ability to breath. Strength is the only thing they understand. Let’s show some!

  • Derek

    Very insightful article, Naomi. Thank you. I have two sons living in Haifa. I want to have grandchildren and plentiful visits to the Land. I want my boys and their families to be as safe as they would be in any other country in the world. And, I fear for that to be possible, Israel must stop tip-toeing around responses and World Opinion and just do what’s right for Israel. Other countries do – look at Syria, Turkey, Iran – they don’t care about World Opinion. They do what they want. Israel is NOT like those countries but World Opinion doesn’t seem to differ. So, why hold back? Why not do what needs to be done, within your borders and do what the others say – It’s our internal problems, get your noses out! China, US, UK, even France, take action when provoked – even when not provoked (read Libya) – and nobody seems to care how many “bad guys” or “innocents” get hurt in those violent incidents. We need to reevaluate the status quo.

  • Karen Barresi-Tillson

    Good article Naomi!

    If there are going to be more housing going up, how can the govt. say they are here to protect themselves?? (the nation) The missles and attacks will continue, no matter where or how.
    What is wrong here? The govt. compromised so many situations. The govt. fears the other nations with repercussions should they take their own control?
    The nation wanted a king,…..here is your king. This nation wanted to be like other nations rather than have the Almighty as their king.
    What right does any nation have to tell Israel what to do or what not to do? Who’s idea is it to strike on Iran? I noticed the U.S. and Great Britain is in on it as well.
    (war makes money) What is the protocol of the governments? Who pays their salaries? Who is the govt. listening to that they should not wipe out the ones who are doing these things.
    Peace? what peace? The situation has gotten so far out of hand it is a disease which has grown, and to weed it out is quite a task. Times change of course, but where IS THE STRENTGH AS OF THE DAYS OF KING DAVID? The govt. should be doing more to protect. What? A strike on Iran? What about your own back yard? The men, women and children and foreigners who love the Land of Yisra’el and are put in harms way daily, 24/7
    It sounds like such a child’s game with big guns. Yet, personally, I think they are all connected. Israel won the lottery to go in the front and strike the pose. Look at the nations involved with this. The big cheese…..I smell a rat.

  • Good article Naomi. Rabbi Meir Kahane diagnosed it all 40 years ago, and not much has changed. The problem, then as now, is education. Most Jews/Israelis are the product of an individualist, materialist education and are unwilling to risk incarceration and bodily harm for any cause. The rare exceptions are condemned as “extremist”. Thus, unfortunately we may not see a “Jewish Spring” until the suffering gets much worse.

  • Naomi, every word you wrote I agree with,every single word. I used to think Jews were smart, I don’t think so any more. One thing I would like Naomi Ragan, for, Prime Minister.

  • Mal

    With all the B/S said and done, ultra weak Jewish resolve and national loyalty has again failed our people and our heritage, there are more Judinrot today then ever before, our political values are based on anti Talmudic ideologies and are out of the will of Hashem, failing the coming of the Messiah Israel will not exist ten years from now.

  • Mickey Oberman

    I hope Benjamin Netanyahu and Tsipi Livni and the entire Israeli government and all the Israeli petty political party members read this fine article.

    It should be made mandatory that they do and each and every one of them should be tested to make sure they have and that they understand what Naomi Ragen is telling them.

  • Rabelad

    The reason that we’ve gotten into this mess and remain in this muddle is because our government wants the approval and even the love of the Nations and Israel’s foreign policy is dedicated to gaining this illusory approval. The Nations (composed of the US, the UN, the EEC and the Arab States) tell us to act with restraint, and certainly not to respond to every tiny missile that hits our towns and cities. After all, effective deterrent would be “disproportionate” and the Nations don’t want that.

    So our government hopes in vain for their approval and hamstrings our IDF. The government and IDF knows full well where the terrorists are producing their weapons, yet they only allow our air force to bomb them AFTER a terrorist outrage has been committed. Why not allow them to bomb them as pre-emptive strike and make their lives too difficult to hurt us? Why not? Because it would upset the Nations. Killing terrorists and destroying their infrastructure is seen by the United Nations as a ‘move against peace’. The head of the UN would wring his hands and say it would be a terrible thing for Israel to kill terrorists, but he is silent when Jews are murdered. Hillarious Clinton would tell Netanyhu that to bomb them would just inflame them and make matters worse.

    The core problem is that we crave the approval of the Nations far more than we love our own children and far more love our own people. For the sake of the illusion of gaining their approval we allow our people to be abused and murdered.

  • David

    One might imagine an alternate Middle Eastern history. From 1948-67 Syrian snipers on the Golan Heights shot at Israeli civilians in the valley below. A U.N. Security Council resolution simply expressing “regret” was vetoed by the Soviet Union; moreover, the U.N. condemned Israel when it retaliated. In August 1967, following the Six Day War, the Arab League met in Khartoum. The response to Israel’s offer to trade land for peace three nos – no negotiations, no recognition, no peace. With the USA and the USSR busy
    in Vietnam, the government of Israel sees no option but to annex the conquered territories, including the Sinai, Judea-Samaria and Gaza, as it did the Golan, thin out with generous monetary incentives the Arab population, grant the remaining Arab numbers all the benefits of full citizenship, and act decisively to stamp out the embryonic guerrilla movement. The result is a Greater Israel that brings long-term stability to the region. No Fatah, no Hamas, no suicide bombings, no Hezbollah no intifadas, no Oslo, no Abu Mazen at the U.N…
    A disastrous notion, says an Israeli friend. For one thing the demographics would have turned Israel into an actual apartheid police state. Nothing would have persuaded Arabs to abandon their villages, and annexation would have amplified not decreased the militancy. The current situation is easier to deal with, the IDF able to move in and out of Judea-Samaria.
    On the other hand, to claim there is no boots-on-the-ground solution is to argue that the situation is one that can only be resolved, if at all, through negotiation. But who is Israel to negotiate with? Dov Shinar reminds me that the British conducted successful negotiations with Mau Mau head Jomo Kenyata. True, but the relationships are profoundly dissimilar. Certainly there are in the territories men and women of good will who would welcome a just resolution of the conflict. For the time being they do not possess the authority to move their fellow citizens in that direction. Mahmoud Abaas is now judged to be no more a suitable negotiating partner than was Yasser Arafat. Emerging favourites are Fatah’s Marwan Barghouti and Hamas’s Mahmoud al-Zahar. Israel, proclaimed Barghouti, “is the worst and most abominable enemy known to humanity and modern history.” Jews, said al-Zahar in November 2010, were destined to be annihilated: “We are no weaker or less honorable than the peoples that expelled and annihilated the Jews. The day we expel them is drawing near….We extended our hands to feed these hungry dogs and wild beasts, and they devoured our fingers. We have learned the lesson – there is no place for you among us, and you have no future among the nations of the world. You are headed to annihilation.” We should not, say Israeli fans of negotiation, take these statements at face value; the Arabs are inclined to speak in extreme and violent terms. They’ll say one thing today, something different tomorrow.

  • Yasir Arafat

    Please stop writing about this subject, or I may have to return my Nobel Peace Prize.