Ostensibly, ""useful background and information on Israel"" available in ""no single volume"" (q.v., most recently, William...


ISRAEL NOW: Portrait of a Troubled Land

Ostensibly, ""useful background and information on Israel"" available in ""no single volume"" (q.v., most recently, William Frankel's 1980 Israel Observed); actually, a few commonplace ideas repeated over and over and over. In the first, past-to-present chapter, these could pass as motifs: tiny, parched Israel was transformed, arduously, into ""the Land of Milk and Honey""; the founders, socialist visionaries, put great stock in Jewish labor; the Six Day War resulted in complacency, dependence on Arab labor, and a ""smug, arrogant, and corrupt"" ruling elite; the Yom Kippur War brought disillusion and Begin; Israel has for years been ""living on the dole""; it has lost its ""sense of mission,"" it suffers from a ""crisis of authority,"" it is rent by cultural tensions, etc. The second chapter, mistitled ""The Economy,"" starts the relentless repetition--with overlapping pages each on ""the sense of being up against it"" (""the stress on the positive,"" ""the sense of limits""); the smallness (""no room for error, nor margin for safety,"" ""the sense of being under siege""); the ""distrust of and hostility toward government""; the ""resistance to authority and orderly procedure""; the ""glaring lapses in manners, courtesy, and general regard of one person for another."" The special peculiarity is the diagnosis: ""Manners, courtesy, and civility are another victim of social democracy in Israel."" Elsewhere, approvingly quoted: ""Democracy is a great destroyer of political leadership""! (Illusions crumble--especially in tiny Israel.) The third chapter, more or less about the economy (but titled ""The Second Israel""), is a specialized version of same: strikes, low productivity, poor service, tax evasion, foreign indebtedness. And so it goes--with the further special wrinkle of a seeming acceptance of Israeli occupation of the West Bank (otherwise, what historical claim to Israel itself?) and a corresponding sympathy for the extremist Gush Emunim settlers. But, with such a mundane muddle, attitudes hardly matter.

Pub Date: June 21, 1982


Page Count: -

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1982