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Sammy Michael: A writer of the people

Sammy Michael. Wikipedia, Kobi Kalmanovich

Yesterday (monday) Sammy Michael passed away at the age of 97 – one of the greatest writers working in Israel. Michael, who has written articles and books since the establishment of the State of Israel, has won many awards and appreciation, both in Israel and abroad. His most famous book, ‘A Trumpet in the Wadi’, is considered core feature in modern Israeli culture and literature. In addition, Michael was a tireless political activist for equality and social justice, serving for decades (until his death) as president of the Association for Civil Equality in Israel.

Michael was born in 1926 in Baghdad, British Iraq, as Kamel Menashe. In his youth he studied at Jewish institutions, and in 1941 he experienced the Farhud – pro-Nazi riots against the Jews of Baghdad, which led to his joining the Communist Party in the country. In this framework, he first found his talent for writing, in party newspapers; in the late 40s he began to be politically persecuted and escaped to Iran. The persecution did not stop in Iran either, and he immigrated to Israel in 1949, and settled in the city of Haifa – changing his name to Sammy Michael.

Michael became a reporter for the Al-Itihad newspaper, which was then used by the Communist Party (and is still the only Arab daily in Israel), and at the same time began to publish his own stories – first in Arabic, and later in Hebrew. His breakthrough came in the 70s, with the publication of the novel “Equal and More Equal” dealing with sectarian discrimination in Israel. In the early 80s he published ‘the Cairo Trilogy’, three books on mid-century Egypt, and in 1987 he published ‘A Trumpet in the Wadi’, his best-known book. Michael continued to publish a book every few years, the last one in 2015.

In addition to his literary and journalistic work, Michael continued his social involvement and political activity, initially within the framework of the Israeli Communist Party, and later in more moderate parties after he began to be disappointed by the anti-democratic nature of the Soviet Union, such as Meretz. Michael was married twice and had only two children. spiritually he has thousands of fans and followers, and literally – millions of readings. There is no doubt that he will be missed by the world of Israeli literature, and there is no doubt that he has fully exploited his life and talent.

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