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37 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great (and revealing) book by Shahak., 10 July 2003
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This review is from: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (Pluto Middle Eastern Studies) (Paperback)
While I'm not the greatest fan of Israel Shahak's writing style (it's sometimes a bit dry), I found this book readable and informative. It details the little-known and little-discussed subject of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel and highlights the risk of ignoring such a threat. As Shahak mentions in his introduction, the modern world focuses a great deal on Islamic fundamentalism and even on Christian fundamentalism but rarely ever focuses on Jewish extremism which is equally, if not more, dangerous.
He begins with a brief summary of Jewish history classifying the different religious sects and their historical roots before plunging into the politics of the 20th Century and the outlook for the 21st. It is important to understand these roots for the modern political construct of Israel is dominated by a sense of nationality which defined as much by religion as ethnicity.
He proceeds to speak of the various religious movements and their effect on the political spectrum inside Israel as well as their interrelationships with the United States. Groups like Gush Emunim are extreme in their views and many of these which are stated quite openly (but receive little attention) are so extreme as to make one wonder why the world has not taken notice. Jewish extremists in Israel often use talmudic scholarship to justify some of the most racist views I have ever heard which would not doubt disgust moderates of all religions.
Israel Shahak treads very carefully around this serious, yet dangerous issue and I feel comes out of it with one of the most informative reads I have had in a long time. His aim is not to insult Jewry or criticise Judaism as such but more to examine the religious extremes as well as political influence in Israel today.
Did you know that Rabin publically scolded a female Education minister for wearing a bikini on the Shabat (Sabbath)? Did you know that Maimonedes recommended punishment of the children goyim (non-Jews)if they misbehaved to the extent of death? Did you know that Baruch Goldstein (the outrageous man who committed the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre of 1994) refused to operate on Arabs because of their race when he was a medic for the army? Did you know that he has engendered a posthumous cult following, replete with a Shrine and literature praising both him and his deed?
If not, this book will be a revelation.
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Arynth
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Location: London, England

Top Reviewer Ranking: 36,541