Gershom Gorenberg has long been the most thorough and honest reporter in English on the settlement movement and the religious right in Israel. In THE ACCIDENTAL EMPIRE, he also provided the best history yet written of the rise of the settlement movement, suing the Israeli government in the process to gain access to internal memos and other documents it had hitherto striven to hide. Here he shows a deep understanding also of political and legal theory - of, in particular, how and why "the rule of law" is so essential to democracy. With that as his framework, he gives us an account, in tragic detail, of how the settlement movement has corrupted Israeli democracy: corrupted its legal processes, its ability to control its army, its willingness to preserve any serious separation between synagogue and state, and the willingness of its Jewish citizens, especially (but not solely) when Orthodox, to see their state as protecting the rights of all who live there - rather than those of Jews...
This educational book is the closest I have come to understanding the internal issues to Israel as a society and as a state. The Unmaking of Israel (2011) by Gershom Gorenberg examines the folly, or what Barbara Tuchman might refer to as the "wooden headedness", of the Israel government as it slowly weakens the structure of the state and society over time. Mr. Gorenberg reveals in detail the clandestine government funding of West Bank settlements, the un-checked rabbinate monopoly that is increasingly making itself irrelevant because it cannot meet the basic life-event needs of average citizens, the lack of a clear eastern border between Israel and the West Bank, the government-funded (and self-imposed) exclusion of ultra-orthodox from secular, military, and economic life, and the perpetuated idea of "settlement [as] a Zionist value." Some of the unexpected insights I found invaluable: the idea of Torah as the national constitution, military reservists acting as a check on...
I am an American Jew with deep Zionist roots who has become increasingly disappointed with an Israeli government held hostage by fundamentalists whose smug conviction in their rectitude made no sense to me. This book was a real eye-opener providing real insights, facts and a strong warning. These loonies are living on the largess of both diaspora Jews and the US government. We are allowing them to destroy a state that could, indeed, be a light unto nations (read Start-up Nation). Instead we get a country that is increasingly unable to talk with their neighbors and which will eventually alienate most of their friends. Their willingness, even avidity, for Armegeddon is more than unnerving. This is a must read for anyone who is a friend of Israel without being foolishly blind to her faults.
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