LETTERS FROM TEL MOND PRISON by Era Rapaport

LETTERS FROM TEL MOND PRISON

An Israeli Settler Defends His Act of Terror
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A first-person introduction to the mindset of the ``Jewish underground'' from a member who was involved in the notorious 1980 car bombing that blew off the legs of Nablus mayor Bassam Shaka. Why would an Orthodox Jew from America, a social worker and father of six children, engage in such an act? In part, Rapaport saw it as an act of reprisal for the murder of six Jewish students in Hebron by a PLO sniper--Shaka was a member of the PLO's National Guidance Committee--and enraged frustration at the Israeli government's perceived failure to act firmly against Palestinian terrorists in ``YOSH'' (the Hebrew acronym for Judaea and Samaria, or the West Bank). Rapaport also fervently believes that Jews' right to settle in YOSH is absolute, that violence is justified by historical claims to the land, and that history is rooted in God's promise of Israel to Abraham as recorded in Genesis. It never seems to occur to him that the Palestinians might have their own personal and historical claims to the West Bank. Very few of the letters printed here, which span the years from 1975 to 1996, really attempt to defend Rapaport's violent vigilantism. Most deal with the author's commitment to settlement (``We are acting in the name of and for an entire people'') and great love of his wife, children, and parents. Concerning the attack on Shaka, he apparently feels no ideological or moral qualms. In the last letter here, he even expresses ``understanding'' of (although he does not favor) the actions of Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of over 30 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, and Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin. Though it initially crackles with ideological fervor, his prose ultimately becomes numbing, with a one- dimensional self-righteousness. One wonders why Helmreich (Sociology and Judaic Studies/City College of New York), who contributes a balanced introduction, chose so many of these letters, when a work half as long would have adequately presented Rapaport's constricted worldview.

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 1996
ISBN: 0-684-83180-5
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Free Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1996