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The Israeli Republic
Cover of The Israeli Republic
The Israeli Republic
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Written by a preeminent Iranian writer who helped lay the popular groundwork for the Iranian Revolution, The Israeli Republic should be required reading for Israelis, Iranians, and anyone interested in the ongoing conflict between them. In 1964, a young clerical seminary student named Ali Khamenei—who would become, ten years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Supreme Leader of Iran—placed an angry phone call to Jalal Al-e Ahmad. Al-e Ahmad, Iran's leading writer and one of the foremost critics of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's rule, had become known for a work he called Gharbzadegi, a scathing attack on the regime. Best translated into English as "Occidentosis" (the state of being afflicted by the disease of the West), this profoundly influential essay, which became a watchword in Iranian politics, called on Iranians to abandon Westernization and return to their cultural roots in Islam.

Ahmad's most recent article, however, had rattled the seminarians—chief among them Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolutionary cleric and founder of the Islamic Republic. "Journey to the Land of Israel" was an account of—and justification for—Al-e Ahmad's two-week-long trip to Israel in February of 1963. In the thriving Jewish State, Jalal Al-e Ahmad saw a model for a possible future Iran. Based on his controversial travelogue and translated into English for the first time, The Israeli Republic is a record of Al-e Ahmad's idealism, insight, and ultimate disillusionment towards Israel. Vibrantly modern in its sensibility and fearlessly polemical, this book will change the way you think about the Middle East.

Written by a preeminent Iranian writer who helped lay the popular groundwork for the Iranian Revolution, The Israeli Republic should be required reading for Israelis, Iranians, and anyone interested in the ongoing conflict between them. In 1964, a young clerical seminary student named Ali Khamenei—who would become, ten years after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Supreme Leader of Iran—placed an angry phone call to Jalal Al-e Ahmad. Al-e Ahmad, Iran's leading writer and one of the foremost critics of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi's rule, had become known for a work he called Gharbzadegi, a scathing attack on the regime. Best translated into English as "Occidentosis" (the state of being afflicted by the disease of the West), this profoundly influential essay, which became a watchword in Iranian politics, called on Iranians to abandon Westernization and return to their cultural roots in Islam.

Ahmad's most recent article, however, had rattled the seminarians—chief among them Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the revolutionary cleric and founder of the Islamic Republic. "Journey to the Land of Israel" was an account of—and justification for—Al-e Ahmad's two-week-long trip to Israel in February of 1963. In the thriving Jewish State, Jalal Al-e Ahmad saw a model for a possible future Iran. Based on his controversial travelogue and translated into English for the first time, The Israeli Republic is a record of Al-e Ahmad's idealism, insight, and ultimate disillusionment towards Israel. Vibrantly modern in its sensibility and fearlessly polemical, this book will change the way you think about the Middle East.

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About the Author-
  • Jalal Al-e Ahmad was born to a clerical religious family in Tehran in 1923. Trained as a teacher, he worked in the profession on and off throughout his life. He joined the Communist Tudeh Party in 1943 and quickly rose through its ranks, becoming a member of the party committee for Tehran, before breaking with the Tudeh in 1947 in protest over Soviet influence. Al-e Ahmad was an influential and prolific writer and social critic, whose body of work includes short stories, notably the collection An Exchange of Visits; novels including By the Pen, The School Principal, and A Stone on a Grave; travelogues including A Straw in Mecca, A Journey to Russia, and A Journey to America; anthropological studies; essays; reviews; and translations. His best known work is Gharbzadegi (Occidentosis), which has also been translated to English as Weststruckness and Westoxification, a cultural critique of Westernization in Iran. In 2013, Restless Books published his polemical work based on his journey to Israel as The Israeli Republic. Al-e Ahmad was married to the novelist and translator Simin Daneshvar; the couple had no children. He died in 1969.

    Samuel Thrope is a writer and translator based in Jerusalem. Born and raised in Arlington, Massachusetts, he earned his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley. He is currently a fellow at the Martin Buber Society at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

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