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About Efrem Sigel


Efrem Sigel’s latest book is the true-crime memoir, Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood (The Writers' Press, 2020).  The review in Publishers Weekly, December 2020, said about "Juror": "Novelist Sigel (The Kermanshah Transfer) turns his sharp eye for detail to a beautifully written hybrid of true crime and memoir. True crime buffs and fans of memoirs will be enthralled by Sigel's irresistible mix of clear reporting, empathy, and thoughtful examination of the link between poverty and violence."


His first novel, The Kermanshah Transfer (Macmillan), a novel of Middle Eastern intrigue, came out in 1973. His second novel, The Disappearance was published by The Permanent Press. in 2009.  "Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood" appeared in 2020.  A third work of cition, a short story collection entitled "Let There Be Light" is due in 2024.  Since the late 1990s more than 30 of his stories and memoirs have appeared in dozens of magazines, including The Journal, the Antioch Review, the Jerusalem Post, Midstream, Nimrod, Sixfold, Gemini, and PerSe and have won a number of prizes.  His recent OpEds in City Journal, the New York Daily News and Times of Israel can be seen below under the Efrem Sigel Blog.

Efrem has been a journalist, editor and founder, with his wife Frederica, of two business publishing companies. Under the auspices of the Harvard Business School Club of NY, Efrem leads teams of volunteers, all alumni of Harvard Business School, who consult to nonprofits in the field of education.  He's on the board of Futures and Options, a nonprofit that arranges intensive orientation, paid internships and career exploration for students from underserved neighborhoods in New York City.

He grew up in Staten Island, NY, graduated from Curtis High School, has an A.B. from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School. After college he spent two years as a Peace Corps teacher in Ivory Coast, West Africa. Swimming, tennis, walking and hiking in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, and reading, writing and Scrabble are his favorite pastimes.  He lives in New York City.  He and his wife have two sons and four grandchildren.

For more about Efrem, see his Linkedin profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/efrem-sigel-4b1b419/

he Efrem Sigel blog


Efrem's article in City Journal, April 14, 2024
Face the Bloody Double Standard: Young Americans' lopsided opinions on war endanger Israel and the United States  by Efrem Sigel and Hannah E. Meyers

Overnight, the United States and other allies helped deflect hundreds of Iranian cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, and drones that rained down on Israel. As regional tensions continue to mount, the long-term support of the U.S. will be more critical than ever for the Middle East's lone democracy. Waves of anti-Israel protests—coming from American campuses, in particular—pose an increasing threat to this support. Recent rhetoric from the State Department and the White House suggest that insistent demonstrators have shaken America from its firm support of Israel in its existential, defensive war in Gaza. This has encouraged Iran and groups like Hamas, whose primary goal is to destroy Israel and exterminate its Jewish population. 


College students are understandably horrified over war in Gaza and thousands of civilian deaths. Every innocent death is a tragedy. But they sidestep reality: the number of deaths in this defensive war is a fraction of victims killed, tortured, and imprisoned—with indefensible aims—by the Muslim leader of Syria, as well as leaders in Russia and China. Yet, American students are not chanting "Death to Syria!" They are not barring Russian professors or musicians from appearing on campuses. They are not calling for the bombing of Beijing. There's no outpouring of outrage against the perpetrators of these ongoing massacres, which are far worse both in carnage and in objective.

As Iranian menace grows, it is critical that American university students confront the moral double standards that have led them to champion forces committed to death and oppression. And to recognize that there is no other name for this lopsided crusade than rank anti-Semitism.

Indeed, the skew in these conflicts and their aims is stark. In the second Chechen war, from 1999 to 2009, perhaps as many as 100,000 civilians were killed. Under relentless Russian bombing, the capital, Grozny, "became a ravaged moonscape," writes New York Times correspondent Carlotta Gall. There were no safe corridors for civilians, no warnings of attacks, no procession of aid trucks from the UN. Almost all the victims were Muslim. Nor was the existence of the Russian Federation ever at stake in this conflict; the Chechens merely sought independence.

In the Syrian civil war that began in 2011 and continues today, more than 300,000 civilians and perhaps as many as 500,000—mostly Muslims—have died from ceaseless bombing, artillery fire, and chemical weapons attacks ordered by Syrian Bashar al-Assad and assisted or carried out by the Russian air force. The death toll includes "at least 14,000 people" who have perished by torture or summary execution in Syrian prisons. "By now almost every war crime and crime against humanity" has been committed in Syria, confirmed Paulo Pinheiro, chair of a UN commission of inquiry, adding that today nearly 17 million people in Syria are in need of food, water, and medical care. Here, too, Again, Assad is not battling to preserve his state's existence, only his own murderous rule.

In China's Xinjiang province, more than 500,000 Uighur Muslims were arrested and imprisoned between 2017 and 2021 as part of China's Strike Hard campaign against Muslim religious practice and cultural identity—a campaign that continues today. 
One million Uighurs have also been subjected to "political re-education" that includes "arbitrary detention, torture, cultural persecution [and] forced labor." The treatment of the Uighurs by Chinese authorities amounts to "a crime against humanity," says the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. Xinjiang's 11.5 million Muslims are less than one-tenth of 1 percent of China's population of 1.4 billion, so the Uighur struggle for Muslim religious practice and identity could not possibly threaten the security or existence of China.

In contrast to these deadly confrontations, Israel is the only state waging a defensive war for its survival.

Hamas's codified goal is annihilating Israel, killing or exiling its 7 million Jews. That's also the stated policy of Iran, a Muslim country of 89 million people ruled by the country's foremost religious authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Khamenei is yet another Muslim leader responsible for the detention and torture of Muslim women protesters, and whose regime supplies money, weapons, and training enabling Hamas and Hezbollah to murder innocent citizens of Israel, the U.S., and other countries. Indeed, Iran's act of naked aggression now confirms it to be a third source of direct attack, along with Hamas and Hezbollah, in the war of survival forced on Israel by the attacks of
October 7.

The UN's roster of 197 member states includes such violence-prone countries as Afghanistan, Haiti, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo—and such unrepentant violators of human rights as Myanmar, Syria, North Korea, Russia, China, and Iran. Yet Israel, a democracy whose Jewish, Arab, and Christian citizens enjoy freedom of speech, religion, and the right to vote, is the only country whose existence is still being challenged, 76 years after independence. Zionism was originally a movement seeking self-determination for Jews and their return to their historic homeland, similar to the independence movements in India, Poland, Ireland, Algeria, Brazil, and dozens of other nations. Today, Zionism is, at its core, an affirmation of Israel's right to exist and of its role as a homeland for Jews.  

Unless American youth take a good look at the world around them, at all of the carnage, and consider the moral imperatives behind why and how a country wages war, they will continue to push geopolitical power toward forces driven to oppress and kill. They will put the United States itself into a weaker position in our ability to maintain our own freedom and act as a beacon and defender of freedom in the world. And they will expose to destruction countless more Muslim lives and sacred sites. Indeed, the only Israeli hurt by Iran's barrage last night was a young Bedouin girl, who is fighting for her life in an Israeli hospital. At the same time, Israeli defenses dramatically intercepted Iranian missiles in the air above Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque—where Muhammad is held to have journeyed to heaven.

If they maintain such geopolitical myopia, America's youth will become just the latest in history's ponderous ledger of those too morally weak, too willfully ignorant, and too easily led by demagogues to do anything but campaign for dead Jews.

Author's note: Efrem Sigel is the author of two novels as well as op-eds that have appeared in the New York Daily News and The Times of Israel. Hannah E. Meyers is a fellow and director of public safety at the Manhattan Institute.



Efrem's  article, in the NY Daily News, January 25, 2024, p. 20


Three Lies About Israel & the Truth 

by Efrem Sigel


The worldview of the pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel, anti-Jew protestors massing daily in New York and around the globe, rests on three lies about Israel.   No matter how fervently protestors believe these lies, wave them on signs and chant them in unison, such beliefs fail the simplest of tests: the test of truth.

Lie number 1: The Jewish citizens of Israel are "settler colonialists" with no historical ties to the land of Israel and no right to reside there.

The truth: The Jewish presence in Israel precedes the arrival of Islam by 1,600 years. Dozens of kings of Israel, beginning with Saul, David and Solomon reigned in these areas from 1050 BCE on.  Even after the Roman defeat of the Bar Kochba revolt in 135 CE, which led to the dispersion of Jews throughout the Mediterranean, Jews continued to live in Jerusalem and environs.   The Arab armies spreading Islam by force didn't arrive until the seventh century CE.

Lie number 2: Israel has been oppressing and maltreating Palestinians (and denying them a state) for 75 years.


This lie turns reality on its head.  The truth: On November 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly approved the creation of two new states, one Jewish and one Arab, to replace the British Mandate.  Rather than accept their own state, the Arabs set out to destroy the Jewish state. Azzam Pasha, secretary-general of the Arab League warned of "a war of extermination and a momentous massacre."  Immediately following November 29, Arab militias began attacking Jewish towns; on May 15, 1948, a day after Ben-Gurion proclaimed the state of Israel, forces from Egypt, Syria and Iraq invaded.  Some 600,000 Arab residents fled the hostilities, a departure the Palestinians call the nakba, or catastrophe.  The real catastrophe was refusing to accept a state alongside Israel.

Since Israel's victory in 1948, terrorists from Arab countries, Gaza and the West Bank have regularly infiltrated Israel to murder Jews. Between 1949 and now, including the intifadas of the 1990s and early 2000s and the October 7 atrocities, 4,890 civilians have died in terror attacks.  Could there be worse "maltreatment" than Palestinians killing Jews by shooting, stabbing, car rammings, bombings, and most recently, rape, dismemberment and mutilation?

Arab armies also fought two major wars, in June 1967 and October 1973, aimed at annihilating Israel. Instead, they suffered disastrous defeats, losing the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.

While Egypt and Jordan eventually signed peace treaties with Israel, Palestinian leaders squandered opportunities. In 2000, Yasser Arafat spurned Israeli Prime Minister Barak's offer of a Palestinian state encompassing most of the West Bank and Gaza. In 2008 Mahmoud Abbas declined an even more generous offer.

By rejecting their own state in favor of trying to destroy the Jewish one, Palestinian leaders tolerated, nay, encouraged, violence rather than coexistence, at a horrendous—and pointless—cost in lives.

Lie number 3: Israel is an apartheid state.


This is the easiest lie to refute. The truth: the 2.1 million Arab citizens of Israel have rights denied to Arabs in neighboring countries: the right of free speech, the right to education and healthcare, the right to vote   Arab students constitute 20% or more of enrollment at leading Israeli universities.  Arab doctors are 17% of all Israeli doctors. Two of the 15 judges on the Israeli supreme court are Arab citizens. And Israel's Muslims worship freely in 1,600 mosques across the country.

The UN Human Rights Council is notorious for lambasting Israel for alleged human rights violations while ignoring much more egregious violations by Cuba, China and others. Yet even Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has acknowledged the truth: Israeli Arabs have "freedom of speech, freedom of religion and participation in political life." Mansour Abbas, head of the Israeli Arab political party Ra'am, rejects labeling Israel an apartheid state. "Our fate is to live together," he says, and to choose "peace, security and tolerance" over "fights, conflict, hatred."

It's understandable, if infuriating, that Palestinians indoctrinated in hatred for Jews accept lies as truth.  But what excuse is there for Rep. Rashida Tlaib slandering Israel as an apartheid state? For professor Joseph Massad at Columbia praising Hamas' barbarism as "awesome"?  As for those blocking roadways while chanting "From the river to the sea"—how many know even the basic geography and history of Israel? In a survey of 250 U.S. students., 86% of whom approved the chant, only 47% could correctly name the Jordan river and the Mediterranean.  Some thought the river was the Nile, that the sea was the Atlantic.  Fewer than 25% could identify Yasser Arafat. When asked about the 1993 Oslo Accords, a quarter said no such agreement ever existed.  As Ron Hassner, the UC-Berkeley professor who commissioned the survey, writes in the Wall Street Journal, those orchestrating calls for Israel's destruction count on "the political ignorance of their audiences" to spread their message of hate.

The truth cannot bring back the Israelis slaughtered by Hamas or the thousands of Gazans killed in Israel's response.  But when the fighting ends, honoring the truth and rejecting lies would be a vital first step on a very long road to peace.
Author's note: Efrem Sigel is the author of "Juror Number 2: The Story of a Murder, the Agony of a Neighborhood" and
the forthcoming short story collection, "Let There Be Light."