this is the first time I'm in Israel so I'm not sure what to expect. Before I leave, my wife asks me if it's safe and of course I nod my head, otherwise I wouldn't be going, would I? The problem is that, in most countries of the world, Israel is still seen as a country of conflict, with a negative image of war and religion.
We now need to do whatever it takes to break the cycle of despair and empower those who would eschew conflict and take risks for peace. President Bill Clinton as a new special envoy to the region? Bring it on. And even the Palestinian UN bid, viewed with great suspicion by many supporters of Israel. Labour is backing the bid in the hope it will help restart negotiations.
Just as the reams of fervent pieces I read in the British media supporting Palestine make wholly worthwhile points, so too does the American press make the same justifications for the opposing side, and perhaps a wider cross referencing of reading on the matter might encourage people to look at the situation anew.
It's heartening for a young writer when the Chief Rabbi of your country writes a column responding to your book, and says some kind things about it - so thanks are in order to Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks for using my book as a springboard for his discussion in the Huff Post on the deficiencies of Stoicism as a philosophy for life.
In 1918, Kafka wrote about the early kibbutzim in Palestine, arguing there should be no legal courts - "Palestine needs earth (...) but it does not need lawyers". Until Israel realizes world Jewry and their cultural assets are not automatically property of the Jewish state, and removes its lawyers from this sorry tale - the world will continue to be starved of a true literary great's work.
The first time I wrote historical fiction I had no idea what I was taking on. Even now, with one historical novel under my belt, and with a second on the way, I am filled with admiration for anyone who can craft a good period narrative. Of all the literary genres, historical fiction must be the toughest.
In Israel's thoroughly modern society, women stand at the head of industries and are even the current leaders of the two main political parties. This country currently has a woman heading the supreme court and has had the famous Golda Meir for a prime minister decades ago. But the civilised nature of this society is at breaking point.