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The Thrills and Panic of a Life in Israel

by David Horovitz

Pub Date: May 2nd, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-40381-7
Publisher: Knopf

An entertaining memoir about life in Israel, highly politicized (of course).

David Horovitz, editor of the Jerusalem Report, Israel's only English-language magazine, was chief editor of Shalom, Friend (1996). In that book Yitzhak Rabin is noted for his decades of imperiously dismissing Palestinian Arab demands and ignoring the nationalist Israeli camp. By this book, Rabin has been `mythologized,` Netanyahu demonized (his `racist` followers, Horovitz maintains, were accomplices of Rabin's assassination), and Barak anointed the hope of the land-for-peace camp. The author admits this is `not a comprehensive picture of Israel… it is my Israel, my Western immigrant's Israel…my prejudices.` Despite this admission, the memoir is admirable for airing contrary opinions. Much of Horowitz’s politics is personalized by fear for his sons serving in a war, yet he has the integrity to quote an Ethiopian soldier saying: `I am honored to be an Israeli soldier.` Similarly, the memoir echoes the magazine's antipathy toward Orthodox Jewry's religious coercion, although the author's Ultra-Orthodox cousin presents an articulate defense. Horovitz's Reform Judaism is largely to `inoculate` his children against the virus of fundamentalism carried by too many fanatic `pick-up artists` in his native Jerusalem. A scarier threat was provided by Saddam's Scuds, but, depicting the dangerously reckless drivers, the ubiquitous car thieves and suicide bombers, the rude clerks and inept immigrant army conscripts, Horovitz manages to convey daily life in frenetic Israel with good humor. Horovitz's breezy journalism is largely preaching to the saved, to other English-speaking left-leaning readers, and he misses the opportunity to convincingly champion the peace process with substance to support his wishes.

Even when sarcastic, Horovitz writes with too much sincere devotion to Israel's future promise to be mistaken for a brash young Western journalist temporarily slumming it in the Middle East.