Making Israel understood

Noa Tishby headlines Lion Event Oct. 19  

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Noa Tishby is an Israeli-American actress, producer, and writer -- and a fierce advocate for her home country.

A Tel Aviv native, she served two and a half years in the Israeli army. She then landed a starring role in the nation's highest-rated prime-time drama, Ramat Aviv Gimmel , becoming a household name. She has appeared in numerous television shows, films, theater productions, and fashion campaigns.

In the `90s, Tishby moved to Los Angeles. It was in Hollywood that she sold In Treatment to HBO; the drama -- centered around a psychotherapist and his patients -- made history as the first Israeli TV show to become an American series. Tishby earned a Peabody Award and 12 Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for her work on the show.

Her activism includes founding Act for Israel, Israel's first online advocacy organization. Most recently, Tishby authored Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth (Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster) in which she dispels misconceptions about her beloved Israel.

Tishby will headline the JUF Women's Philanthropy's virtual Lion Event on Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. To inspire future generations, participants' daughters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters are also encouraged to attend.

Q: Was there a particular incident that inspired you to write A Simple Guide ?

A. No, it was more a "death by papercuts" situation; the misunderstandings kept piling up. Nobody I met knew what was really going on, across the gamut -- regardless of age, political ideology, or other factors.


But many asked, "Is there a book I can read?" I tried to find one that had a modern view, that was fun, funny, and easy to read. I felt it was time for a new take. Also, it was time for such a book to be written by a woman; I could not find another one that was.

Why do you think Israel is so widely, as you say, misunderstood?

It's easy for people to believe the worst about Israel because of the subconscious issues they have with Jews.

There is a disproportionate obsession with Israel. There is some sort of mystique about it. But I feel that if you don't even know the difference between Hamas and the PA (Palestinian Authority), then don't tweet.

What is the general reaction you get to telling people you are Israeli? What do they say or ask?

At the start of my career, people would express an interest. They would say things like, "Going to Israel is on my bucket list."

But after a time, I saw a shift in their reaction. It was like a cloud would go over their eyes: "Oh, you're from Israel …"

What messages do you hope readers take from the book?

I want them to appreciate that Israel is not important for Israelis alone, or for Jews alone. It's a stabilizing force in the Middle East as a whole. Other Middle Eastern countries understand that. So Israel is not just a Jewish issue. There is a moral and historical justification for Israel's security.

What would you advise, say, a young supporter of Israel when they hear Israel being maligned?

First, I would tell them to educate themselves. Members of our community don't have the answers ready when we are challenged. But we should know them, right away. This education needs to start before teens get to college, maybe even as early as grade school.

Second, I would remind them that it is not going to be easy. But you can draw strength from being proud and rooted in our rich, incredible history.

To register for the 2022 Lion Event, visit or call Vivienne Henning at 312-357-3823.

Viewing parties will be hosted in homes throughout the Chicagoland area. Consistent with JUF's policies regarding indoor events, all participants must be fully vaccinated and wear masks.

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