A powerful argument for the importance of a new approach to solving the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Ben-Ami, a former advisor to President Bill Clinton and founder of the lobby group J Street, calls for a more open dialogue on Israel, claiming that the Jewish community is on a dangerous path that could lead to the destruction of the country. Beginning with the historical background on the creation of Israel and the important role played in it by members of his family, the author convincingly establishes his case that a two-state solution may be the only way to preserve Israel as a democratic homeland for the Jews. He recounts the failure of his father and others to persuade the international community to allow Jews to emigrate from Europe ahead of the Holocaust, and seems determined not to meet a similar fate in his mission to bring about a successful outcome to the Middle East peace process. Turning his attention to the country in which he grew up, the United States, Ben-Ami takes issue with the idea that any deviation from unwavering support for Israel’s government is tantamount to betrayal, insisting that “voices of dissent… may also have a critical message to convey—a message that can save lives and change history.” The author points to the historic liberalism of American Jews, questioning why their major organizations are unanimously right-wing when it comes to Israel, and attempting to show how a politically conservative and religiously orthodox minority has come to speak for a liberal, secular majority. Ben-Ami says he wants “nothing less than to rewrite the rules of American politics,” and of the American Jewish community’s conversation on Israel. His arguments, while controversial, are set forth in a passionate and articulate manner, and backed up by facts and clear-headed analysis—though the book’s single-minded focus leads to some repetition.
Certain to provoke strong reactions from supporters and detractors, this is a must-read for anyone with a stake—or even an interest—in this difficult issue.