In this deeply personal journey of discovery, Ami Ayalon seeks input and perspective from Palestinians and Israelis whose experiences differ from his own. As head of the Shin Bet security agency, he gained empathy for "the enemy" and learned that when Israel carries out anti-terrorist operations in a political context of hopelessness, the Palestinian public will support violence, because they have nothing to lose. Researching and writing Friendly Fire, he came to understand that his patriotic life had blinded him to the self-defeating nature of policies that have undermined Israel's civil society while heaping humiliation upon its Palestinian neighbors. "If Israel becomes an Orwellian dystopia," Ayalon writes, "it won't be thanks to a handful of theologians dragging us into the dark past. The secular majority will lead us there motivated by fear and propelled by silence." Ayalon is a realist, not an idealist, and many who consider themselves Zionists will regard as radical his conclusions about what Israel must do to achieve relative peace and security and to sustain itself as a Jewish homeland and a liberal democracy.
About the Author
Admiral (Ret.) Ami Ayalon is a former Flotilla 13 (Israel's navy SEALs) commando, commander of the navy, director of the Shin Bet security agency, cabinet minister, Knesset member and a recipient of the Medal of Valor, Israel's highest military decoration. With Sari Nusseibeh, he established the People's Voice peace initiative in 2002. He is a member of Commanders for Israel's Security, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Haifa Research Center for Maritime & Strategy and chairman of AKIM Israel (the National Association for children and adults with Intellectual Disabilities). He organized and was featured in the Academy Award-nominated documentary, The Gatekeepers. Anthony David, historian and biographer, teaches creative writing at the University of New England's campus in Tangier, Morocco. Dennis Ross, American diplomat and author, has served as the Director of Policy Planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, the special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, a former special assistant to President Barack Obama and as a special adviser for to the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is The Washington Institute's William Davidson Distinguished Fellow.
"...an idealistic, yet sober and realistic, vision of what is needed to advance the prospects of peace."—Sheldon Kirshner, The Times of Israel
Ayalon’s "aims and accomplishments are . . . undeniably impressive . . . Hope finds a prominent presence in what so many think is a hopeless, endless conflict.” —Kirkus Reviews
"[a] compact compelling memoir . . . smoothly written . . . [that] includes a beguiling mini-history of Israel itself.” —Charles Kaiser, The Guardian
"Reading Ayalon’s revealing book, one can see that he has come a long way. Perhaps his most commendable conclusion is that Israel will never achieve peace until 'we change the narrative about the past and admit to ourselves that the Palestinians have a right to their own country alongside Israel, and on land we claim as ours.'" —Raja Shehadeh, The Nation
"Ayalon’s book is... a personal, intellectual and philosophical journey into his life’s different realms, interspersed with encounters with people through whom he sets out to decipher the collective DNA of Israel, Zionism and Judaism." —Yossi Melman, Haaretz
"What Ayalon says in the fascinating and well written Friendly Fire matters, based as it is upon years of military and political experience in the service of the state of Israel. . . . overall, Friendly Fire is an optimistic book, evisaging as it does a state of peace one day flourishing between Israelis and Palestinians."—Jewish Chronicle (UK)
“Ami Ayalon discusses how he came to see a two-state solution with the Palestinians as the best way to ensure Israel’s security, not just through analyzing numbers and statistics, but through a humanistic approach. He discusses . . . how his humanist paradigm not only allowed him to see how the Palestinians’ grievances and aspirations are intertwined with Israel’s security, but also how he still acknowledges and sympathizes with the narratives of those in Israel whom he may disagree with.” —Jonah Naghi, in The Times of Israel
"How can a staunch Zionist who was raised on one of Israel's earliest settlements and trained as a kill-or-be-killed elite commando spearhead a campaign for peace with his enemies? The answer, in Ami Ayalon's captivating narrative, is an eye-opener for Palestinians and Israelis alike." —Sari Nusseibeh, author of Once Upon a Country: A Palestinian Life, former president of the Al-Quds University and former Palestinian National Authority representative in Jerusalem
"Friendly Fire is not simply a critique, but a strong mandate for a complete overhaul of Israel’s policy toward countering Palestinian terrorism—with clear lessons for counterterrorism policy far beyond the region. . . a powerful critique of the Israeli politicians on both the left and right. . . a story of immense bravery: bravery to speak truth to power; bravery to speak out against injustice—even when it is committed on one’s behalf and in one’s name; bravery to acknowledge one’s own participation in and responsibility for such injustice; and, finally, bravery to demand accountability from oneself and from others." —Molly Ellenberg, in Modern War Institute