Conference & Book signing. Books in both English and French will be sold at the event. Description of the Book: Spies of No Country tells the unknown story of four of Israel’s first spies. Recruited by a rag-tag outfit called the Arab Section before the 1948 War of Independence, these men assumed Arab identities to gather intelligence and carry out sabotage and assassinations. At the height of the war, the spies posed as refugees fleeing the fighting, reached Beirut, and set up what became Israel’s first foreign intelligence station. Beyond telling a true espionage story, Spies is an attempt to look at Israel’s own secret identity and to suggest a different way of understanding the country. Israel has always seen itself as part of the story of Europe, but over half of the Jewish population comes from the Islamic world. The spies of this story were Jews from Arab countries – members of a marginal minority in the early Zionist movement who put their Arab identities at the service of the new state. These identities were, in large part, genuine. Understanding Israel in the 21st century means thinking less about Europe and more about the Middle East. Not only are Israel’s surroundings Middle Eastern, and not only were most Israelis alive today born in the Middle East, but the native culture of much of Israel’s population is Middle Eastern and Mediterranean. As the old elite of the kibbutz movement has faded, this culture has come to the fore – in religion, politics, pop music, and food. It shapes every aspect of life in the country. This makes Israel increasingly hard for North Americans, natives of a different culture and of Jewish communities almost entirely European in background, to understand.