A Jerusalem-based journalist presents his exegesis on how Israel came together and how he sees it coming apart.
American Prospect senior correspondent Gorenberg (The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977, 2006, etc.) recounts the history of the lone democracy in the Middle East, as well as the faults peculiar to democracies and their guarantee of free speech. He presents an earnest survey of the resentful discourse, internecine political battles and other endemic problems besieging the small nation. In cities across Israel, the religious right has moved into Palestinian conclaves. Settlements outside the contested Green Line were established without permits, and West Bank homesteaders erected residences without seeking permission. Against biblical injunction, ancient and productive Arab olive trees were destroyed. Religious fundamentalists claim “The Whole Israel” as their legacy. Can or will the army or the police disengage the increasing cadre of settlers from the occupied territories? Parties are divided. Jewish civil-rights groups sue, but some Supreme Court victories simply languish and are not enforced. Israel’s split personality engages zealots of all stripes, but the rule of law, ignored at times, still exists as nowhere else in the region. Employing considerable and powerful selective history, the author is, for the most part, passionately persuasive. His concluding remedy comprises three parts: first, end the occupation in Judea and Samaria; next, divorce state and synagogue; finally, be less Jewish in favor of equality. As readers and his countrymen will remind the author, Israel’s reason for being—from its birth, parented in 1948 by the international community through its battles for survival—is that it is the Jewish State, a state like no other. Gorenberg offers no significant guarantee of that birthright.
Sure to raise contention, a strong dissenting voice from a burdened land where dissent is not simply tolerated, but a way of life.