Eli Amir

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Eli Amir
Native name אלי עמיר
Born (1937-09-26) September 26, 1937 (age 79)
Baghdad, Iraq
Citizenship Israeli
Occupation Writer and civil servant
Employer The Jewish Agency
Title Director General of the Youth Aliyah Department

Eli Amir (Hebrew: אלי עמיר‎‎ Arabic:ايلى عمير) (September 26, 1937) is an Iraqi-born Israeli writer and civil servant. He served as director general of the Youth Aliyah Department of the Jewish Agency.


Amir was born in Baghdad, Iraq. He immigrated to Israel with his family in 1950, and went to school in Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek. He is now living in Gilo, Jerusalem.[1] Amir studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

From 1964 to 1968 he served as adviser on Arab affairs to the Prime Minister of Israel, and as envoy for the Minister of Immigration Absorption of Israel to the United States. In 1984, he was appointed Director General of the Youth Aliyah department of the Jewish Agency.[2][3]


Scapegoat (1983) is a semi-autobiographical story of Nuri, a 13-year-old immigrant boy from Iraq who is sent to a kibbutz and his absorption into Israeli society.[4] The Dove Flyer (aka Farewell, Baghdad) (1992) is the story of 17-year-old Kabi Imari, an Iraqi Jewish boy growing up in a Zionist family.[5] Saul's Love (1998) is a romance between Saul, born to a deeply rooted Sephardi family from Jerusalem, and Chaya, an Ashkenazi holocaust survivor.[6] Jasmine (2005) is also largely autobiographical. The book's protagonist, Nuri Amari, who as a child had immigrated with his family from Iraq,is appointed to a government post in East Jerusalem in the wake of the Six-Day War. He meets Jasmine, a young Palestinian widow from a wealthy Christian refugee family. [7] [8]

Scapegoat is included in the Israeli secondary school syllabus,[9] and was adapted into a play and television series.[2]


Amir received Youth Aliyah's Jubilee Prize (1983), the Jewish Literature Prize (in Mexico, 1985), the Ahi Award (1994), Am Oved's Jubilee Prize (1994), the Yigal Allon Prize for Outstanding Service to Society (1997), the Book Publishers Association's Platinum Prize (1998), and the Prime Minister's Prize (2002).[2]

Political activism[edit]

Amir has frequently called for social justice and denounced what he has described as the deterioration of the Israeli welfare state.[10] In 2007, when his book Jasmine was published in Arabic in Egypt, he expressed hope that more Israeli books be spread in the Arab world, saying "How can there be peace without us knowing each other?".[11] He repeated that statement in a literary soiree held by the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.[8] He also signed a petition calling for Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert to negotiate a cease-fire with Hamas.[12] In 2006, when President of Israel Moshe Katsav was indicted with rape, several Israeli websites suggested Amir as a successor. Amir told Maariv that he would seriously consider such an offer.[13]

Published works[edit]

In Hebrew[edit]

  • Tarnegol Kaparot ("Scapegoat"), Am Oved, 1984
  • Mafriah Ha-Yonim ("Farewell, Baghdad") Am Oved, 1992
  • Ahavat Shaul ("Saul's Love"), Am Oved, 1998
  • Yasmin ("Jasmine"), Am Oved, 2005

Translated into English[edit]

  • Amir, Eli (1987). Scapegoat: A Novel. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. p. 218. 
  • Amir, Eli (2010). The Dove Flyer. Halban Publishers. p. 544. 
  • Amir, Eli (2012). Yasmine. Halban Publishers. p. 436. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Point of no return
  2. ^ a b c "Eli Amir". The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. Retrieved May 4, 2008. 
  3. ^ Amir, Eli (January 30, 2005). "Eli Amir: Jewish People's Largest Rescue Operation". Jewish Agency. Retrieved May 4, 2008. 
  4. ^ "Scapegoat". The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. Retrieved May 6, 2008. 
  5. ^ "Farewell, Baghdad". The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. Retrieved May 6, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Saul's Love". The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. Retrieved May 6, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Jasmine". The Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. Retrieved March 22, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Stern, Yoav. "Eli Amir's love story brings Israelis and Egyptians closer". Haaretz. Retrieved May 4, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Amir, Eli". Hebrew at Stanford. Retrieved May 4, 2008. 
  10. ^ עמיר, אלי (November 11, 2007). זעקה משדרות. nrg (in Hebrew). Retrieved May 6, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Israeli novel published in Egypt". Ynetnews. November 12, 2007. Retrieved May 4, 2008. 
  12. ^ Lev-Ari, Shiri; Mazal Mualem (September 24, 2007). "Leading Israeli authors, intellectuals call for truce with Hamas". Haaretz. Retrieved May 4, 2008. [permanent dead link]
  13. ^ שטרן, איתי (August 30, 2006). כבוד הנשיא?. nrg (in Hebrew). Retrieved May 6, 2008. 

External links[edit]

  • I am an Arab Jew. January 3, 2008. Event occurs at 383 seconds. Retrieved May 6, 2008.