An Israeli scholar assesses the consequences of the Six-Day War and the chasm that divides political opponents in Israel, offering some ideas for solutions.
Goodman (Maimonides and the Book that Changed Judaism: Secrets of The Guide for the Perplexed, 2015, etc.), a senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, has no Pollyannaish delusions about the ongoing conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians (and among Israelis themselves). He clearly recognizes the problems of satisfying everyone, including a tiny geographical space and enormous religious and cultural differences. Throughout, he comments on the tribalism that divides political opinion in Israel (and in America and elsewhere), a situation that is difficult—perhaps impossible?—to remedy. The author’s voice is calm, rational, analytical. He points out the strengths of the right and the left, the logical and moral errors on both sides, the apparent intractability of the problem, and the intransigence of the principal players. Beneath the narrative lies a strong foundation of historical and religious research, solid organizational principles, and clear, informed prose. Goodman begins by describing and analyzing the opposing political ideologies among Israelis and then focuses on the essence of the problem. Israel is small, surrounded by those who wish her ill, and if Israel yields in some fashion, won’t Jews quickly become a minority in the country? He explores the moral dimension and dilemma, as well: How can you consider yourself a democracy if a large number of residents have no political rights? Near the end, the author offers some ideas for solutions; none are perfect, as he quickly admits—and he adds that perfection is hardly a useful aim when all involved are imperfect. Finally, he states his firm opposition to all-encompassing “political ideologies” and urges “listening” to “elevate Israel’s culture of debate.”
An eloquent expression of the distant hope that deeply committed human beings can stop, inhale deeply, listen, change, and compromise.