An outsider’s view of Israel

A new book offers a personal look at the 1978 visit of Harold Pinter and Antonia Fraser.

March 16, 2017 11:56
4 minute read.
Lady Antonia Fraser

Lady Antonia Fraser, pictured in Jerusalem during her trip in 1978. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In May 1978, the Nobel Prize-winning playwright Harold Pinter and Lady Antonia Fraser, a celebrated historian who later became his wife, visited Israel. Fraser has now published her diary of that fortnight in Israel almost a decade after Pinter’s death.

Fraser is the daughter of the seventh earl of Longford, an Anglo-Catholic and socially distant from Pinter’s Jewish working- class background in Hackney. This work is a quintessentially English account in the Disraeli tradition of Middle Eastern exoticism. In Our Israeli Diary: Of That Time, Of That Place, Fraser observes modern Israel as a sympathetic outsider, trying to make sense of Jews, Jewishness and this promised land. She is taken to all the usual tourist sites and is totally enthralled by their history. She emerges as someone who is a committed advocate for a state of the Jews, but admits her ignorance and wishes to become more knowledgeable.


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