Illuminating reportage from one of the world’s ugliest current wars—a conflict that, the author charges, the outside world simply does not understand.
As recently as May 2000, writes Israeli journalist and commentator Horovitz (A Little Too Close to God, 2000), with peace holding fast between Israel and the lands under the control of the Palestinian Authority (“quasi-Palestine”), he and his like-minded friends would take their children across the line into places like Bethlehem and Jericho to tour archaeological and historical sites and buy British chocolate, “scarce in Israel because of the lingering effects of Arab boycott threats against companies that traded with the Jewish state.” But then things went awry: battered by attacks by the Hezbollah, the “pro-Iranian guerrilla movement that had long since embraced suicide bombing as a strategic weapon and elevated death in the cause of attacking Jews to the highest form of sacrifice,” the Israeli army hunkered down on the border, and the long war of attrition began: Palestinians committing suicide assaults on Israeli civilians in restaurants and malls and even the Frank Sinatra Building of Hebrew University, Israelis “killing no shortage of Palestinian civilians in what the generals called ‘collateral damage.’ ” Though the situation is confusing to outsiders, Horovitz is certain of a few things. For one, the two kinds of killing cannot be equated: it is one thing to murder a civilian deliberately, quite another to kill in self-defense. For another, Yasir Arafat knew and knows all about the guerrillas’ attacks; Horovitz charges that in the first two weeks of this latest intifada Arafat released dozens of Hamas and other Islamic militant activists from his prisons, and in the late spring of 2001, he freed the most dangerous terrorists in PA custody. For still another, the Western media is increasingly turning against Israel as it fights for its existence, in some instances misled by Palestinian propaganda.
Horovitz defends these and many other arguments vigorously and effectively in a well-wrought narrative that complements Donna Rosenthal’s The Israelis (2003).