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.

Subscribe to Naomi's Blog

Enter your email address to subscribe to Naomi's blog.

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

The Fence Nobody Wanted

Who really built the fence?

The recent stabbing of a teenager in the northern Jerusalem suburb of Ramot, apparently by a resident of Beit Iksa, hit me hard. I lived in Ramot for 23 years, 16 of them directly across the wadi from Beit Iksa. All during the intifada when buses were blowing up all over the country, the men of Beit Iksa walked across the wadi and up the steps next to my house to work as laborers, without incident. Often, they passed me by in groups, watching as I tended my fruit trees and grape vines. Sometimes I even offered them fruit, which they smilingly declined or accepted. The sound of their muezzin and darbuka (drums) filled my home. I accepted it as part of the experience of living in this beautiful spot with its rolling hills and apple orchards. In fact, during the euphoria of the Oslo Accords, I even sometimes imagined walking across the wadi to visit and inviting some of them to my home.

I was rudely awakened by the Palestinian Authority election results in Beit Iksa, where Hamas won a resounding victory. Tangible changes soon followed: powerful new loudspeakers aimed at Ramot brutally blasted the singsong call to prayer like a weapon. Home robberies, always a nuisance, steadily grew worse. One night, robbers invaded my home as my son and his wife were sleeping downstairs. The next morning, among other losses, we found two large kitchen knives missing. On another occasion, I watched in disbelief as in the middle of the night a dozen or so men leaped out of the house next door and down into the wadi before police could arrive. My neighbor, who had been away, arrived to find they’d not only stolen everything not nailed down, but also urinated on her bed for spite.

While the police dutifully came and investigated, they admitted helplessness. Under the Oslo Accords, Beit Iksa was governed by the Palestinian Authority. Only the IDF could go in there. And for that to happen, someone would have to do more than steal a computer.

Nevertheless, most of us with homes adjacent to the wadi were adamantly opposed to a security wall between Ramot and Beit Iksa, reluctant to turn our lovely, rural backyard and heavenly view into an ugly border. So instead we put in alarm systems, which regularly went off.

All that changed on October 22, a sleepy Sabbath afternoon, when Zaid Abd al-Rahman, a 20-year-old enrolled in Al Quds University, allegedly took the 10-minute walk through the wadi, entering Ramot with a sixinch knife and attacking the first person he saw, 17-year-old Yehuda Ne’emad, son of the local grocery owner. Viciously, al-Rahman stabbed Yehuda twice in the back and twice in the stomach, doing his best to kill him. As his victim lay in a pool of blood, al-Rahman turned his attention to a twelve-year old girl and her six year-old brother. “I was sure I was going to die,” she later said. “I took my brother’s hand and I ran.”

As a crowd gathered, Rahman, who apparently wasn’t interested at that moment in martyrdom, ran back down the wadi.

Echoing a popular sentiment, Meir Indor of the Almagor Terror Victims Association connected the crime to the ransom paid four days previously to free Gilad Schalit: “The publicity surrounding the deal turned murderers into culture heroes on the Arab and Palestinian street… All this encourages Arab youths to try impersonating the released prisoners, because they know, just as we know, that if they are caught they will be released sooner or later.”

Ah, if it were only that simple! If one could go to sleep a peaceful student and wake up a blood-thirsty killer because of a single act of government policy! The truth is far more disturbing.

Beit Iksa, six kilometers northwest of Jerusalem, has 1,600 inhabitants and two primary schools. Both are operated by the Palestinian Authority. A 2009-10 report by Arnon Groiss of Impact-Se, the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Curriculum describes the school books Rahman would have been exposed to as delegitimizing Jews and Israel, denying their historical and religious presence and ascribing to them dubious and nefarious characteristics, as well as assigning full blame to them for the Middle East conflict and stressing the ideal of violent struggle for liberation over peaceful negotiation.

After school, Rahman would have been exposed to Al Aqsa Television children’s programs, like this one: “What do you want to do to the Jews who shot your father?” says the cuddly bear.

“I want to kill them,” a child’s voice pipes up.

“We don’t want to do anything to them,” a little girl shakes her head at the bear. “Just to expel them from our land.”

“But if we slaughter them, they’ll be expelled,” the bear cheerfully corrects her.

“Yes, that’s right,” she agrees.

I suggest you watch this on Youtube, courtesy of Itamar Marcus and Palestinian Media Watch.

Graduating from this kind of education, Rahman enrolled in Al Quds University, with its Abu Jihad Museum, honoring the master terrorist who engineered the Coastal Road Massacre. In 2007, Al Quds held a week-long celebration honoring Yahya Ayyash, the notorious Hamas “engineer credited for numerous deadly attacks and for inventing the suicide belt.”

On March 11, 2011, Al Quds (which has joint programs with Brandeis, by the way) held a celebration of the 33rd anniversary of the death of Dalal Mughrabi, a despicable Lebanese woman who landed on Israel’s coast in a dinghy with a dozen other terrorists, killing nature photographer Gail Rubin and then hijacking a passenger bus which she blew up with a grenade, killing 38 Israelis – thirteen of them children.

“Now we go to a glorious chapter in Palestinian history… ” the Palestinian television announcer says, introducing Mughrabi’s sister, who says: “This is a day of glory and pride for the Palestinian people and a blow to the Zionists. She [Mughrabi] left a note to our father saying to point all rifles at Zionists, so if you haven’t yet…”

The release of terrorist murderers was a bad idea for many reasons. But while it might have emboldened him, it didn’t put the idea of killing Jews into Zaid Abd al-Rahman’s head. For that, it took a village. If the West is ever really sincere about tackling the problem of peace in our area, the first sign will be the halting of all funding and cultural exchanges with the likes of Al Quds “University.” It will be the attention paid to reversing the damage done by years of toxic PA and Hamas brainwashing, the kind that turn young people into monsters.

When the security fence goes up between Ramot and Beit Iksa, as it inevitably will now, we are sure Palestinian apologists, and Al Quds University and its television broadcasting system in particular, will vent its fury at further evidences of Israeli “apartheid.”

But we should all know better who really built this fence.

 

This article was first published in the Jerusalem Post on 18 November, 2011.

10 comments to The Fence Nobody Wanted

  • Marty R.

    It is impossible to make peace with people that believe it is their holy mission to murder and maim Jews, and anyone else that does not believe as they do.
    The old saw holds true. G-D was asked if there would ever be peace between
    Jews and Arabs. His reply, ” Not in my lifetime.”
    Greay article Naomi

  • Charles Martel

    Did Yehuda Ne’Emat die? Are there any community patrols that watch this wadi? Are there
    jewish self-defense groups in Ramot? Until the fence goes up, Jews are at the mercy of these
    thugs.

  • Yasir Arafat

    Tomás–
    Aren’t you familiar with the glorious history of Islam? Don’t you know that we conquered this land long ago, overrunning it with our armies who pillaged and raped and then displaced the original inhabitants? Now those horrible Jews, whom the holy Quran commands us to hate, had the chutzpah to conquer it from us? Who gave them the right to take from us what we took from others?
    Peace to all.

  • Tomás Rosa Bueno

    Ms Ragen seems to be such a nice lady. She allowed the natives to work, and sometims even offered them fruit grown on their land.

    Ramot is an illegal settlement. Period.

  • ruth samuel tenenholtz

    As long as Israel assumes that her opponents are reasonable human beings who can make objective and pragmatic decisions, there is no hope to end the bloodbath of the post-Oslo free-for-all in our towns and villages. Israel must decide what is good for her citizens (to live in peace, without fear and have their property respected and protected). Isn’t that why we wound up where we are in the first place in 1948, 1953, 1967, 1973, etc. etc.?
    Robert Frost said GOOD FENCES MAKE GOOD NEIGHBORS, and he knew what he was talking about. Apparently, the higher the fence, the better the neighborly relationship. We will dream on, as you did Naomi, of sharing a cold cluster of grapes with the folks across the valley. Meanwhile, keep the grapes for those on the same side of the fence.

  • rd

    ronnie and other xians: spare us the xian quotations please!!! we are jews! we don’t need or want to see that garbage.

    naomi: excellent piece. keep up the great work.

  • Joel

    Ronnie has it mostly correct, with the one exception that Muslim lies extend beyond just the Jewish people, but to all people without regard to race, or ethnicity. Islam goes even further in its hatreds to the one-half of the human race that are born female. Here is the really impossible part to understand from a purely humanistic viewpoint: how could Jewish men (Peres, Rabin, Beilen, and their ilk), who presumably hold the bearers of their children in very high regard, agree to anything with people that hold the position of women as little more than chattel? Astonishing and reprehensible. When you read the testimonies of Muslim women as I have, it is truly heartbreaking. By God’s grace I’m not a humanist and not surprised by the cravenness of Jewish Leftists…they have ever been so. The great Day of the LORD, the day of wrath and judgement, is coming on ALL (Jew & Gentile) that will not repent. I urge all that read to call upon the name of the true and living God of Israel, who is rich in mercy, toward ALL (Jew & Gentile) that will call upon Him in truth. The Prophet Yoel in Chapter 2:32a reads: “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call upon the name of the LORD shall be delivered…” In the New Testament, this verse is repeated in Romans 10:13 Shalom!!!

  • Lea de Lange

    The cause of the terrible mess we are in are the Oslo principles. Who did that to us? And why?
    I can, I must believe that the “peace-now” crowd are selfhating and disturbed. But how can I believe that Jews would want to destroy the chance that Israel should have a future?
    It is impossible for me to understand the Oslo-dreamers who like the Jewish “Jevanim”, the Hellenists fought and are still fighting their own people.
    With Oslo darkness fell over Israel and it even obscures our ability to reason. We are drowning in it. We need help. Mashiach I think.

  • Naomi R

    Naomi, an excellent assessment of the true nature of evil. Unfortunately our Jewish Leftists must share the blame. Rather than accept the fact that Jew hatred does exist based on no other reason than human nature and brainwashing, they play the role of the apologist. If only “we” were better. I don’t know that we will ever learn, but the fence and others like it are necessary for our survival.

  • Ronnie

    This is a great piece on the root of the problem with Arabs living “side by side” Jews. This noxious song of “Two-state solution” is nothing more than a road for Israel’s annihilation. The root of the problem took 1400 years to foment, with the birth of Mohammad in the 7th century. The modern day “issues” of apartheid, fences, theft of water rights, Israel’s borders, etc. have nothing to do with the real problem: Arab inculcation of heinous lies and hatred toward the Jewish people. Children raised on a steady diet of hate end up regurgitating that hate in their adulthood. All serial terrorist murderers in their 20’s today are the direct result of at least 20 years of propagandist hatred toward the Jewish people. Arab leaders imbued with money are empowered to teach their children this hate, and it is an ongoing methodology to get the attention off of the horrid conditions of the Arab masses. Blame the Jews, blame the Israelis, but never cop to the heart of the matter: Centuries of serial hatred and murder handed down generation to generation because Arab leaders are greedy, corrupt and apathetic to their own people who can rot in the streets as far as they are concerned.