Noa Tishby, Emmanuel Acho to publish ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew’ in April
Acho said the idea sprung from the notion that 'marginalized communities are much more powerful when they fight together as opposed to fighting in silos'
Noa Tishby, Israel’s former special envoy for combating antisemitism and the author of a popular explainer on Israel, is releasing a new book in April, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew, co-written with Emmanuel Acho, a Fox Sports analyst and former NFL linebacker.
The title riffs on Acho’s digital video series, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,” which became the subject of two best-selling books.
Featuring a series of frank discussions on Jewish stereotypes, the nature of Judaism and the overlap between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, the book seeks to demystify and to create a space for such conversations as antisemitic incidents have risen across the U.S.
“These questions might make you squirm,” the book description reads, “but the answers outline the history, the tropes and the catalysts of antisemitism in America.”
Tishby said that Acho approached her with the idea for the book over a year ago. “Even before Oct. 7,” she told Jewish Insider on Monday, “he was sensing that there’s an unnatural rise in Jew hatred and attacks and antisemitism, and he reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to write this book together.”
“I was floored, honored and immediately said yes,” she said. “We started working together and sitting through these conversations,” which were “really uncomfortable at times.”
Following Hamas’ attacks in Israel, the discussions “became even more testy and more uncomfortable, and honestly more beautiful,” Tishby said, “because we were able to have even deeper conversations.”
Acho, for his part, said his motivation for writing the book extends from a belief that “marginalized communities are much more powerful when they fight together as opposed to fighting in silos — or worse, fighting against one another.”
“When I saw the pain of the Jewish community, I was like, ‘I gotta speak up,’” he added. “Otherwise, we’ll never see justice. I can’t just wait until I’m affected, until I’m negatively impacted, to speak on an issue. But why not speak when my brothers and sisters are also impacted who look nothing like me?”
He hopes that the book will serve as a guide for “how to have these hard conversations” and to “hear from someone who’s hurting,” he told JI. “Noa and I are from different cultures, different genders, different skin colors, but willing to sit down with one another.”
Tishby agreed. “When you come from a good place, you can ask anything and you can listen and hear anything — and I think this is what we’re missing,” she explained. “With the Jewish community, we feel, often, that we’re alone in the fight, so having someone like Emmanuel reach out and openly be willing to be such a powerful, vocal and visible ally was incredible.”
“To be able to sit through uncomfortable conversations and make it on the other side with love and with understanding,” she told JI, “that’s what we hope people would get from this book.”