The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

  For Immediate Release
November 30, 2016

Colin Shindler's 'The Rise of the Israeli Right'
Earns Top Washington Institute Book Prize

Books on Iran's Basij and Ambassador's Memoir also Cited

The Rise of the Israeli Right

(Washington, D.C. – November 30) Colin Shindler's The Rise of the Israeli Right: From Odessa to Hebron, has been awarded the gold medal in The Washington Institute's 2016 Book Prize competition, the research organization announced today. Shindler, emeritus professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, will receive the prestigious award and an accompanying $25,000 prize.

The Washington Institute Book Prize is awarded annually to exceptional new books that have illuminated the Middle East for American readers. “The Book Prize celebrates outstanding new scholarship examining the Middle East and assessing the myriad issues, opportunities, and threats facing the region today,” said Institute Executive Director Robert Satloff, the Howard P. Berkowitz Chair in U.S. Middle East Policy.

In its gold prize commendation, the judges wrote: "Colin Shindler's The Rise of the Israeli Right expertly traces the evolution of this stream of the Zionist movement from the work of Ze'ev Jabotinsky in the early 20th century to its role as the dominant force in Israeli politics today. This myth-defying book describes the many contradictions that have characterized the Israeli Right – its liberalism and militancy, pragmatism and idealism. The Rise of the Israeli Right is indispensable to any nuanced understanding of the Right today, and why its hold on power now appears unshakable." The Rise of the Israeli Right is published by Cambridge University Press.

Saeid Golkar was awarded the silver medal, with its $10,000 prize, for Captive Society: The Basij Militia and Social Control in Iran published by Columbia University Press and The Wilson Center. The judges wrote: "Saeid Golkar has produced the authoritative account of the Basij paramilitary militia, a secretive but pervasive institution whose tentacles reach into every corner of Iranian life. Captive Society draws on a unique range of insider sources and interviews to demonstrate that while Iran is dominated by religious clerics, it is controlled by the Basij. No wonder Iran's clerical regime has crushed every challenge—and has grown even stronger." Golkar is a lecturer for the Middle East and North African Studies Program at Northwestern University and senior fellow on Iran policy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

The jurors presented the bronze prize, worth $5,000, to veteran U.S diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad for his autobiography The Envoy: From Kabul to the White House (St. Martin’s Press). The judges wrote: "Zalmay Khalilzad has written an 'only-in-America' memoir of personal transformation -- an Afghan reborn as an American, and an academic remade into an ambassador -- woven into the saga of America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gifted with insights into traditional Muslim ways, Khalilzad shows how American illusions led the United States down dead ends, and takes deserved credit for salvaging some gains from the wreckage. The Envoy is a model memoir, and an invaluable document for any history of America's darkest moments in the Middle East."

Now in its ninth year, the Book Prize has been generously supported since its inception by Washington Institute Trustees Shelly and Michael Kassen. Shelly Kassen is president of the Institute.

Submissions for the 2017 Book Prize will commence after January 1, 2017. Publishers may submit English-language nonfiction books on any subject that bears on the modern Middle East or America's role in the region published between May 1, 2016 and May 1, 2017. The deadline for submissions is May 1, 2017. Complete details are available at

About the Washington Institute: The Washington Institute is an independent, nonpartisan research institution funded exclusively by U.S. citizens that seeks to advance a balanced and realistic understanding of American interests in the Middle East and to promote the policies that secure them. Drawing on the research of its fellows and the experience of its policy practitioners, the Institute promotes informed debate and scholarly research on U.S. policy in the region.

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