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The Unmaking of Israel [Hardcover]

Gershom Gorenberg
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins World; First Edition edition (8 Nov 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061985082
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061985089
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 854,482 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Unmaking Of Israel, The by Gorenberg, Gershom

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insider knowledge, professionally reported 21 Dec 2011
Gershom Gorenberg has been reporting this story for more than 20 years and it shows through his insider knowledge of the events and people he describes, through the stunning array of original documents he has unearthed and published here for the first time, and through the accuracy of his analysis. Unlike many English-language writers on the topic who would struggle to find most West Bank settlements on a map and have rarely visited them, Gorenberg speaks the language, knows the geography and understands the inner workings of the settler movement. This excellent book is the most original, insightful and important work on the subject published this year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read! 2 Dec 2013
By Walter
excellent book on Israel / Palestine. Picked up my copy at random and was very glad I did - contains historical insights, analysis and suggestions for what needs to be done to break the deadlock. Particularly good at explaining what is going on in Israeli society.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Profound Examination of the Threats to Democracy in Israel 26 Dec 2011
By Samuel W. Fleischacker - Published on Amazon.com
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 alone. Throughout, he is fair-minded and calm, avoiding the polemics so common in discussions of these topics, and locating causes for many of the baleful phenomena he describes more in structural factors, or unintended consequences of what initially seemed minor compromises, than in anyone's deliberately oppressive agenda. And at the end he proposes a thoughtful and very plausible set of proposals to bring Israel back to the democratic aspirations it once proudly upheld (incidentally explaining better than anyone else I know why a "one-state solution" will not work). An impressive book, and one people on all sides of the conflict can gain by reading.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes sense: "The Unmaking of Israel" (2011) by Gershom Gorenberg 29 Dec 2011
By Ketchikan Alaska Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
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 censorship when they return to civilian status, and the idea of history moving in reverse towards a future Altalena incident. Mr. Gorenberg ends with some of his own thoughtful solutions about how to reverse the current situation to ensure Israel avoids political and societal implosion. Overall, I regard the book as a series of straight-forward readings about some serious, complex, and all-too-real issues that affect Israel today and in the near future.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about time 21 Jan 2012
By J. Shereshewsky - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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.
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent insight into the mix of religion and politics within Israel 16 Nov 2011
By Norman B. Bernstein - Published on Amazon.com
Gershon Gorenberg's vivid description of the rather complex intermixing of religion and politics in Israel is an engaging read. In the book, Gorenberg describes the highly fractionalized politics of modern Israel, emphasizing the surprising (and distressing) hold on elements of the military by various ultra-Orthodox factions, especially those associated with illegal settlements in the West Bank. He discusses the efforts in the past few years to engage young haredi (very orthodox) in a program of military service; however, the alliegance and loyalty of these soldiers is undermined by the authority and influence of the orthodox rabbis whose political perspectives clash with the secular military leadership. This results in a questioning of the willingness of young officers from the ranks of the haredi to obey and remain loyal to the officer corps; such a situation could be extraordinarily dangerous, when a conflict erupts.

Along the way, Gorenberg provides additional insight into the illegal settlements in the West Bank, the tacit approval and support of the Israeli government, and the expropriation of land from Palestinians, as well as the effects of Israel's security fence to block Palestinians from freedom of movement, and even from tending their own crops.

The final chapter, however, strikes me as incongruous. After making a very persuasive argument that Israel's internal politics and religious schisms make it essentially impossible to ever result in any sort of reform, Gorenberg lays out his own vision of how these issues might be resolved. His recommendations, however appropriate, seemed to me to have been essentially excluded by the picture he paints in the earlier chapters.

I gave this book only three stars, based on the incongruity of the final chapter, as well as the fact that half the volume of the book is devoted to notes and bibliography; it's half the 'read' I was expecting and hoping for. Regardless, for a very good picture of internal Israeli politics, it's still worth the effort.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Look at the Complexities Within Israel 23 Dec 2011
By Garry - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As outsiders, it is not often that we get an insider's view of the political and religious complexities within Israel. Gershom Gorenberg gives us such a look as he writes based on interviews, observations, and research into the historical background that has led to the current state of affairs in Israel/Palestine. Without portrayals such as this, we Americans are led to see Israel through the lens of the popular media, which tends to idealize its democracy. Gershom's analysis provides helpful insights into the complicated dynamics within Israel that make conflict resolution so difficult. For a summary of these internal incongruities see the review, "Excellent insight into the mix of religion and politics within Israel". How you choose to view these realities may well depend on your own background, but you cannot read this book without coming away with a better understanding of Israel in the context of its surrounding geographical challenges. I give it a five for being an engaging read that provided new insights into the complexities of the region and for proposing steps forward that are outside the box of current popular thinking in the U.S.
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