Oct. 6, 2019
I met Michael Bassin this past week. He is a super-nice, friendly, outgoing guy, and he told me about a book he wrote about his adventures in the Arab world and later in the IDF.
If I hadn’t met him in person, I wouldn’t have believed the stories in the book. And his book, “I Am Not A Spy,” published in 2017, is a must-read.
As an idealistic American high school student, Bassin asked Dennis Ross what he could personally do to help bring peace between Israel and the Arab world. Ross answered that he must get to know the other side on a personal level, reminding him that one doesn’t make peace with friends.
Bassin took this advice as literally as one can.
After studying classical Arabic at George Washington University, Michael spent a semester at the American University at Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates – over the objections of his Conservative Jewish parents.
Michael first stopped off in Egypt, and later visited Amman, Jordan. Being a naturally open guy, and not wanting to deceive anyone, he let people who asked know that he was Jewish. He was quickly informed by Christians in Egypt – screamed at, actually – that revealing that he was Jewish was an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing to do in the most antisemitic country in the world.
Even so, when he went to Sharjah, he decided to tell anyone who asked that he was Jewish and let his winning personality allow people to see that Jews weren’t evil.