HBO Turning Ari Shavit's 'My Promised Land' Into TV Documentary

Haaretz columnist hopes TV version of his New York Times best-seller will make people realize that with all its flaws, Israel is a 'man-made miracle.'

Itzik Ben Malki

HBO is turning "My Promised Land," Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit's New York Times best-seller about Israel, into a television documentary.

"The great hope is that the HBO documentary 'My Promised Land' will be able to open people's minds and hearts to realize once again that, with all its flaws and problems, Israel is a man-made miracle and an astonishing human endeavor," said Shavit.

"My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel," which was published in 2014, is a narrative history that draws on Shavit's family's story as well as interviews, historical documents, private diaries and letters to tell the story of modern-day Israel.

No date has been set for when the documentary will be broadcast, since it is still a work in progress, said Shavit.

HBO chairman and CEO Richard Plepler told the audience Monday at Keshet Media's third annual INTV conference of global television executives that as soon as he read "My Promised Land," he wanted it for HBO, Variety reported.

"When I first approached Ari I told him that I've waited my whole adult life to find this book," Variety quoted Plepler as saying at the Jerusalem conference. "And I thought, my goodness, what a privilege, to capture the essential truths of this book and to make a film that could reach millions of people not only in Israel and the U.S., but all over the world."

The Economist, which named Shavit's 2014 book one of the best books of the year, praised him for reaching conclusions "without lapsing into narrow judgments."

"Sympathetic but unflinching, he finds things to chastise—and admire—on every side," The Economist wrote. "In a place with too much history and too much certainty, a 'lonely rock in a stormy ocean', he manages to reach conclusions without lapsing into narrow judgments, and finds truth without asserting that it is the only truth."