FACING A CRUEL MIRROR: Israel's Moment of Truth by Michael Bar-Zohar

FACING A CRUEL MIRROR: Israel's Moment of Truth

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Bar-Zohar, Labor member of the Knesset, novelist (The Deadly Document, 1980, etc.) and journalist (The Quest for the Red Prince, 1983, etc.), focuses on the problems facing Israel today. Drawing on his acquaintance with the leading members of the Israeli political scene, the author chronicles the numerous efforts to achieve peace in the Arab-Israeli conflict, including meetings over the course of 15 years between Jordanian and Israeli ministers. A major Israeli problem, Bar-Zohar argues, has been what he calls ""the founding father syndrome."" Ben-Gurion led the country brilliantly, ably supported by talented aides; but when the founding father disappeared, the aides floundered despite their talent. Golda Meir was a woman of immense authority and determination--determined to do nothing. Moshe Dayan never moved without clearing his actions from above. Shimon Peres is a ""wise man"" but a ""mediocre politician."" Arik Sharon, the author feels, tricked the government and the country into a Lebanese adventure only he wanted, and gave the Israeli army ethical problems it had never faced before. ""What,"" asked a tired reservist, ""do you do with a thirteen-year-old kid who's thrown a grenade at you? Spank him?"" These same ethical problems have resurfaced in the occupied territories during the intifada Here, however, Bar. Zohar is uncharacteristically optimistic. He feels that the residents of the territories are more capable of reaching peace with the Israelis than are the PLO leaders sitting in Tunis. With the eventual demise of the Hashemite kingdom (which will last only as long as Hussein), a confederation will, he believes, arise between the autonomous Arab areas of the West Bank and the inhabitants of the East Bank, bringing lasting peace. Although Bar-Zohar is not averse to occasional name-dropping and subjective judgments, he rises eloquently to the occasion when dealing with Israel as a ""light unto the nations"" and the ethical difficulties it now faces.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1990
Publisher: Scribners