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Michael Bassin

Author, book titled "I Am Not a Spy" The true story of an idealistic young American Jew who goes deep into the Arab world & the Israeli army

Michael Bassin has traversed the Middle East as a journalist, businessman, soldier, student, and traveler.  His Middle East expertise has made him a frequent speaker to groups and organizations with an interest in the region.  A graduate of The George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs, Bassin is a partner in a Tel…

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Michael Bassin has traversed the Middle East as a journalist, businessman, soldier, student, and traveler.  His Middle East expertise has made him a frequent speaker to groups and organizations with an interest in the region.  A graduate of The George Washington University with a degree in International Affairs, Bassin is a partner in a Tel Aviv-based technology company and regularly provides commentary to news outlets on the Middle East.  He has been featured on Public Radio International, the BBC, the Times of Israel, and the Jerusalem Post.

Few American college students who study abroad in foreign countries expect constant accusations of being a spy by their peers and faculty. But that’s exactly what happened to Michael Bassin during a semester exchange at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates in 2006.

A nice Jewish boy from Cincinnati, Michael’s best friends in high school were a Palestinian Muslim and an Israeli Jew. These relationships inspire him to study and travel in the Arab world during college to promote Middle East peace. Despite advice to the contrary, Michael decides to reveal his Jewish identity to his classmates in Sharjah. Students, faculty, and the secret police respond with shock and interest, and genuine suspicion arises that he is a secret agent.

In between crisscrossing one volatile country after another during breaks from class, Michael develops die-hard enemies and allies on campus. He is thrown into the role of reluctant ambassador for the Jewish people and Israel and is forced to respond to conspiracies and threats made against him. Nevertheless, he discovers that his efforts to promote understanding are not in vain as he develops genuine friendships and sees the positive effects of face-to-face interaction.

After returning to the US, Michael concludes that the best way to continue fighting for peace is by joining Israel’s army. After moving to Israel in 2008, he serves for two years as an Arabic translator in an IDF combat unit deployed to Palestinian cities in the West Bank. He becomes the face and voice of his unit during both friendly and hostile interactions with Palestinians, enforcing an occupation about which he feels conflicted.

Through the story of an idealistic American Jew committed to promoting peace and reconciliation in the Middle East, I Am Not a Spy confronts the ugly realities of propaganda and misperception with a grim but comical twist.

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A Conversation With Michael Bassin
Will share his experiences in the Arab world and the Israeli armed forces. Guests may have their books signed by Mr. Bassin at the event

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