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'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 - is a chilling tale of the paths that so easily lead us astray, and the darkness within us all. “שטן
Click the book’s cover to learn more.


Watch Valérie Abécasis' interview with Naomi on French Channel 24's Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.





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.


Nic Nie MówMay 2017 – The Polish translation of Devil in Jerusalem is published as Nic Nie Mów.


April 2017 – Naomi speaks about her books at the Ivan M. Stettenham Library at the Streicker Centre in New York City.


March 2017 – Naomi tours the Paris region to speak about her new book Les Soeurs Weiss, the French translation of The Sisters Weiss.


January 2017 – Naomi is interviewed by Valérie Abécasis on French Channel 24‘s Culture program. The interview (in French) begins at the 4:00 minute mark.


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


October 2016The 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 Sarah 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

Israel’s “Teflon” Prime Minister

With so many investigations and promised indictments, why is the prime minister’s popularity still so high? Part of it is certainly the convoluted nature of the allegations. The more closely one examines them, the more unbelievable they become.For all the differences between Israeli and American Jews, one thing is uncannily similar: the daily headlines lambasting their current political leader.

While the Donald Trump era has brought a new level of hysteria to U.S. political discourse, the attempts to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the seemingly weekly revelation of yet another corruption scandal have only slightly dented his popularity. According to an October 5 poll by Israeli television’s Knesset Channel, when people were asked, “Have the publications on Netanyahu and his family on the various investigations against them changed your opinion of him?” 64 percent said no.

With so many investigations and promised indictments, why is the prime minister’s popularity still so high? Part of it is certainly the convoluted nature of the allegations. The more closely one examines them, the more unbelievable they become.

First was Meni Naftali, the Netanyahus’ housekeeper, who in 2014 sued the State of Israel, the Netanyahus and the Office of the Prime Minister for a million shekels (about $260,000) because, he alleged, Sara Netanyahu wasn’t nice to him. She complained to him at 3 a.m. that he brought milk in leaky plastic bags instead of containers. She made him reset a dinner table because an unclean awning had been opened above it, raining down dust. He said she made him return bottles to get the deposit and then pocketed the money, and that she threw a vase with old flowers on the floor, demanding fresh ones. Most of all, he complained she didn’t want to keep him on after two years, as she’d promised.

He won. The judge agreed he’d been mistreated and misled concerning the terms of his employment, but awarded him only about $46,000. The Israeli public, assailed for years by a relentless media campaign to paint Sara Netanyahu as a petty, haughty, money-grubbing domestic tyrant, sighed at this outcome. To topple Netanyahu is going to take more than deposits on Coca-Cola bottles.

Then there are the investigations of Netanyahu himself, dubbed cases 1000, 2000, 3000 and 4000.

  • Case 1000 is an investigation of film producer Arnon Milchan’s giving Netanyahu cigars and champagne. I’m not kidding. Well, it also involves allegations that Milchan gave Sara Netanyahu substantial gifts and got billionaire James Packer to invite Netanyahu’s son on vacation junkets. Police have actually interviewed Milchan for this “crime.” What these gifts accomplished for the givers isn’t clear.
  • Case 2000 involves a taped conversation between the prime minister and his nemesis, Yediot Acharonotpublisher Arnon Mozes, which seems to indicate Netanyahu’s willingness to negotiate a ceasefire in that newspaper’s hurtful headlines, particularly about Sara Netanyahu, in exchange for Netanyahu’s help in advancing legislation that would rein in the free right-wing newspaper Yisroel Hayom—funded by his billionaire friend Sheldon Adelson—which has seriously cut into Yediot’s circulation and profits. Recently, American-born Ari Harow, Netanyahu’s trusted chief of staff, agreed to serve as state’s witness in this case to avoid jail time in a separate case not involving Netanyahu. For the average Israeli, there doesn’t seem to be any crime here, only a shrewd attempt by Netanyahu to get Mozes on record about his journalistic bias. As for Harow, people feel sorry for him, knowing he must have been direly threatened to betray his longstanding friendship with the prime minister.
  • It is Case 3000, also known as the Submarine Affair, that has given Netanyahu’s political rivals the most hope. It involves allegations of serious wrongdoing, bribery and personal gain, but the prime minister is not a suspect. Michael Ganor, an Israeli lawyer representing German shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp, is being investigated on charges that he engaged in bribery to secure a multimillion-dollar submarine contract for his client. Ganor too signed an agreement with police, agreeing to testify against other suspects, including David Shimron—Netanyahu’s personal lawyer, adviser and cousin, and also Ganor’s attorney—who is suspected of lobbying Israeli Defense Ministry officials on the submarine deal. Shimron denies he did anything. Stirring the pot, former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon—who left the Netanyahu government with a great slamming of doors—allegedly told police that Netanyahu had urged a cancellation of a previous submarine contract, presumably to clear the way for the deal with ThyssenKrupp.
  • Last and probably least, in Case 4000, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira says Netanyahu failed to disclose information regarding a friendship with Shaul Elovitch, who is a controlling shareholder of the communications company Bezeq.

As someone who has actually met Sara Netanyahu, a working woman and school psychologist involved in many charitable causes, I find the allegations of extravagance against her hard to swallow. Having visited the residence, I can testify (under oath without any plea deal) that it is an elegant dump desperately in need of renovations, from its peeling blue Formica kitchen to its faulty electrical wiring that often leaves the house with no electricity or heat, as it did on the day I interviewed her in 2015.

I would say that the most promising way for Benjamin Netanyahu’s political rivals to effect regime change would be at the polling booths. I suspect the same can be said for the rivals of the current American president.

The public, cognizant of media agendas, is not likely to storm the barricades for allegations that seem flimsy at best and ridiculous at worst. Not with unemployment at 4.8 percent and a per capita income that the World Bank puts at $37,400, while neighboring Jordan’s is at $8,980 and Egypt’s at $11,110. Not with terrorism fatalities at only 13 so far in 2017, far less than the parallel numbers under Netanyahu’s predecessors, not to mention the cumulative toll during the Oslo Accords period (1993-2000) of 1,548 Israelis injured and 207 killed.

Granted, the Netanyahus are not universally beloved. But after the last political debacle that opened the doors to a terror tsunami, Israelis like myself are wary of bandwagons, and happy to leave well enough alone.

 

This article was first published in the November-December 2017 issue of Moment.

2 comments to Israel’s “Teflon” Prime Minister

  • dianne varon

    We love Bibi!!!! Wish he were our president. I am considered someone who can really see through the bad guys and Bibi and his family are the good ones. Sad that he has to deal with all the stuff. Israel is lucky to have him and the lazy left should stop it already.

  • Naomi R

    It seems to me that we need something to complain about even if it is trite or trivial. We are foolish. As it is we give our enemies too much ammunition.

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