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Israel’s Democracy Is Being Challenged by Its Own Policies: A Prescription to Bring It Back from the Brink

Allan C. Brownfeld
Spring - Summer 2012

By Gershom Gorenberg,  
Harper Collins,  
325 Pages,  
For those concerned with Israel’s future, recent developments are increasingly worrisome. According to David Newman, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben-Gurion University, “Israel’s democracy is now under threat to an extent which it has never previously experienced.”  
In this important book, the respected Israeli historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg shows how Israel’s own policies are undermining its democracy and existence as a Jewish state and explains what must be done to bring it back from the brink.  
In Gorenberg’s view, “The Six Day War of June 1967 was a turning point — a military victory that led to political folly. It marked the beginning of what I like to call the Accidental Empire ... It kept Palestinians who lived in those territories disenfranchised, under military occupation, while settling Israeli citizens in the occupied land ... Long-term rule of Palestinians was a retreat from the ideal of democracy, a retreat that governments denied by describing the occupation as temporary. Contrary to common portrayal, secular politicians initiated settlement in the occupied territories and have continued to back it ever since. But the most ideologically committed settlers have been religious Zionists — and the government’s support for settlement has fostered the transformation of religious Zionism into a movement of the radical right.”  
Patrons of Religion  
When a country’s leaders act as the patrons of religious movements opposed to an open society, Gorenberg argues, “they do double damage: to the state and to the religion. Israeli government sponsorship of the religious settlement movement and of ultra-Orthodoxy has enabled both to become more influential, more unbending, more intolerant. Judaism has been terribly distorted in the process.”  
Often ignored, Gorenberg believes, are the first lessons of Judaism’s sacred texts: “... in the Book of Genesis and Exodus, are that all human beings are created in the divine image and deserve freedom. The reason that the Bible describes humanity as beginning from a single person, as the Talmud explains, is to teach that. ‘whoever destroys one life, it is as if he destroyed an entire world, and whoever sustains one life, it is as if he sustained an entire world.’ The purpose of Jews living together in their land, and the condition for them to do so, is to ‘pursue justice’ as a society, and not just as individuals.”  
Traditionally, one form of Orthodox Judaism advocated keeping religious law while integrating into the general society. An alternative, which would largely shape the ultra-Orthodoxy which is now growing in Israel, was postulated by Central European rabbi Moshe Sofer: “Anything new is forbidden by Torah,” the Five Books of Moses, the original revelation on which Jewish tradition is based. Gorenberg points out that, “Ironically, that rigid rejection of change to fit the new circumstances was new in Judaism. The ultra -Orthodox foreshore secular studies, made an ideal of observing Jewish law in the strictest possible way, and made a point of dressing distinctly as a visible sign of separation from other Jews as well as non-Jews. Reacting against the intellectual openness of the Enlightenment, against modernity’s vertiginous option of questioning faith, ultra-Orthodoxy posited ‘belief in the sages’ as the new foundation of Jewish life: truly, religious Jews must accept the authority of the leading rabbis of their time to make decisions for them in all areas of life — not just in religious practice, but in politics and personal affairs as well. That, too, was a radical innovation masquerading as conservatism.”  
Crimes of Nazis  
Palestinians frequently state that they are being asked to pay the price for the crimes of the Nazis, crimes which they did not commit. “The argument that the Palestinians paid for Europe’s crimes is correct,” writes Gorenberg. “Nor were the Europeans the only refugees, the only prospective immigrants: the founders of Israel hoped to ‘ingather’ Jews from around the world. ... Practically speaking, they expected immigration to create the necessary Jewish majority.” In October 1947, Moshe Shertok told David Ben-Gurion, then head of the Jewish Agency, that the Zionist interest was to “reduce (the) Arab political minority ....” For Gorenberg, “It should be no surprise that Zionist leaders thought about transfer. Population transfer — less politely, the forced uprooting of men, women and children to create ethnically homogeneous states — was part of the zeitgeist.”  
In some places, Gorenberg notes, Jewish commanders expelled Arabs from conquered villages. In many more, panic led to mass flight, “especially after Irgun and Lehi fighters perpetrated a massacre in the village of Deir Yassin outside Jerusalem ... When the provisional government discussed the issue, the consensus — supported by Ben-Gurion — was to keep the refugees from returning ... The policy was partly defensive, to avoid a fifth column. But in the June cabinet meeting, Shertok also described ‘all the land and houses as ‘spoils of war,’ and as compensation for what Jews had lost in a war forced on them. Afterward ... cases of the IDF expelling Arabs became more common. The decision to prevent return was the turning point, transforming what began in the chaos of war into a choice.”  
In 1967, Israel had a population of 2.7 million people, of whom 400,000 were Arabs. Annexing the West Bank and Gaza would add another 1.1 million Arabs and the Arab birthrate was higher. “If Israel remained a democracy, how long would it be a Jewish state?” asks Gorenberg. Philosopher Yeshayahu Leibowitz warned that if Israel tried to maintain its rule over another people, “the corruption characteristic of every colonial regime will also prevail in the State of Israel.”  
Legitimacy for Settlements  
While the Labor Party provided legitimacy for settlement of the occupied territories, it was Menachem Begin and his Likud Party which pursued the occupation on ideological grounds. “Begin,” Gorenberg points out, “did not share Labor’s hesitation or its nostalgia for rural, socialist communities. His belief that Israel must rule the Whole Land of Israel had not changed since his underground days. The Likud built large suburbs and small exurban bedroom communities, offering massive subsidies to attract settlers. As head of the Ministerial Settlement Committee, Ariel Sharon took a major role in drawing the map of new settlements, aimed at driving wedges between Palestinian towns and preventing the emergence of a contiguous Palestinian state.”  
“The intent was for there to be facts before any peace negotiations ... with the idea that wherever we were living (the territory would remain ours),” explained attorney Pia Albeck, head of the Civil Division of the State Attorney’s office. “Just like in the War of Independence, when most of the places where Jews lived ended up on the Jewish side.”  
Levi Eshkol asked Foreign Ministry Legal counsel, Theodor Meron, the government’s top authority on international law, whether civilian settlements in the “administered territories” was permitted. Meron’s written response stated unequivocally, “Civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” The specific provision he cited was Article 49, paragraph 6, “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”  
In 1968, in a proposal for building Israeli towns in the West Bank, Moshe Dayan declared that, “Settling Israelis in administered territory, as is known, contravenes international conventions, but there is nothing essentially new about that.” Gorenberg writes that, “If Israel really believed that the territorial division created by the 1949 armistice was null and void, it could have asserted its sovereignty in all of former Palestine — and granted the vote and other democratic rights to all inhabitants. It chose not to do so for the reasons given by Justice Minister Shapira; this would have been the end of the Jewish state. Instead, it behaved as if the territories were part of Israel for the purpose of settlement, and under military occupation for the purpose of ruling the Palestinians.”  
Terror Underground  
The Jewish terror underground of the early 1980s, Gorenberg believes, “serves as the most extreme example of schizophrenic justice. The group’s 28 members, most of them settlers, crippled two Palestinian mayors and an IDF Sapper with explosive booby traps, murdered three students at a Hebron college, attempted to bomb five East Jerusalem buses during rush hour — and plotted to blow up the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem in order to shatter Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt and prevent Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai ... Three men were sentenced to life for the Hebron murders. But with repeated computations, they walked free after less than 7 years in prison. Yehuda Etzion, mastermind of the Temple Mount plot and an organizer of the attacks on the mayors, spent less than 5 years behind bars.”  
When it comes to the army, notes Gorenberg, both it and the police “understand their role as protecting Israelis, not Palestinians. Put differently, they were not responsible for the welfare of the governed, for equal enforcement of law, or for preventing conflict: they were a side of the conflict ... As for the settlers, they were ‘soldiers’ serving the policy of creeping annexation, but were not subject to military discipline or even to consistent legal constraints. Far beyond the selective attention to international law, beyond the dual legal system and the misuse of local law, the settlement project turned occupied territory into a realm where, ultimately, there was no law.”  
For the Palestinians, Gorenberg shows, the Green Line “marked where government by the consent of the governed ended. Palestinians in occupied territory were only the subjects of military government. Unlike Arabs who had lived under military rule in Israel, they were not also ‘citizens of the liberal nation-state.’ No political party in Israel stood to gain votes by paying passing attention to their needs. The unplanned war of 1967 and the ill-considered settlement effort afterward had another consequence, entirely unintended: they transmogrified religious Zionism from a moderate political movement to a sect with Jewish control of the Whole Land of Israel as its primary effect.”  
Religious Zionism  
Religious Zionism has manifested itself in the occupied territories in a manner which is relatively unknown to Americans. The ripening of olives, said a leaflet widely distributed on the West Bank, provided the opportunity to fulfill Moses’ command to the 12 spies he sent into Canaan. “Be strong and take from the fruit of the land.” The way to show who really had title to the Land of Israel was to “bring its good fruit from its temporary occupiers” — meaning Palestinians — “to its true owners” meaning Jews. All the soil of the Land of Israel and all the trees belonged to the Jewish people, it said, so that by taking the fruit, Jews are “returning what has been stolen to our own hands and not stealing from others.”  
Gorenberg points to the fact that, “... an interpreter of sacred texts can turn them inside out, making a sin into an obligation. On the simplest level, the writer had to explain away the explicit commandment in Deut. 20:19 against chopping down fruit trees as a means of waging war. He rationalized an obvious act of theft as reclaiming one’s own property. He also ignored an ancient and well-known rabbinic gloss on the disagreement between the shepherds of Abraham and his nephew Lot in the book of Genesis ... In our time, theologies that absorb extreme political doctrines suffer similar vulnerability to sanctifying sins — as shown by Islamic radicals who have turned the forbidden act of suicide into heroism.”  
This combination is expressed by a quotation that appears on the website of Shvut Ami, an illegal outpost in the Balus area. On the cusp of the messianic era, it says, “the most important point is the land of Israel. From it everything flows, and except for holding tightly to it, there is no way to bring holiness into the world.” The words are those of Rabbi Ya’akov Moshe Harlap. Gorenberg notes that, “Whatever Harlap’s original intent, his words open the door to a ‘moral’ system in which seizing territory outweighs obligations to human beings ... The West Bank, olive harvest has become an annual low-level battle, with settlers stealing from and ravaging Palestinian groves ... Israeli human rights groups documented over 30 attacks on Palestinian property in the first six weeks of the 2010 harvest alone. Near the settlement of Talmon, unidentified Israelis set a grove on fire while Palestinians were picking the olives. A hundred trees were poisoned and another 40 uprooted at Turmusayya, a Palestinian village close to the Adlei Ad outpost.”  
Two States for Two Peoples  
In Israeli society in the 1980s, according to Gorenberg, “to speak of two states for two peoples was to place oneself on the radical left.” The Rabin government embarked on a road-building program so that Israelis could drive around Palestinian-controlled cities. The bypass roads made the commute from settlement to Israeli cities safer, and also shortened the drive significantly. Rabbi Nachu Rabinovitch, head of the state-sponsored Birkat Moshe yeshiva in the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, compared anyone who carried out orders to evacuate a settlement to Jewish collaborators with the Nazis.  
On February 25, 1994, Kiryat Arba settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslim worshippers in the Hebron holy place known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque. Beforehand, Goldstein told friends he had a plan for ending the Oslo peace process. Gorenberg writes that, “Yitzhak Rabin was not alone in describing Goldstein as ‘mentally ill,’ a description that erased the context of the settler movement rebelling against the state that had nurtured it. Meanwhile, the extreme edge of the religious right eulogized Goldstein as a hero and martyr. Among his posthumous admirers was Bar-Ilan University law student Yigal Amir. On November 4, 1995, Amir carried out his own plan to prevent dividing the Land of Israel. He assassinated Yitzhak Rabin.”  
Israeli governments speak of peace while continuing to build new settlements, what Gorenberg calls, “strategic schizophrenia” which “undermined their own credibility. By mid-2010, despite Israel’s pullout from Gaza, the number of settlers had grown to 300,000. That is, during 17 years in which Israel was officially committed to reaching a permanent agreement with the Palestinians, the settler population increased by over two and a half times. These are official Israeli figures, which did not include another 185,000 Israelis living in the annexed areas of East Jerusalem ...”  
Fragmenting Palestinian Territory  
Ariel Sharon, according to Gorenberg, adopted the fence to fit his strategy of fragmenting Palestinian territory with “fingers” of Israeli settlement: “Working closely with a IDF strategic planner, Col. Dany Tirza, Sharon designed a tortuous route that looped through the West Bank to put as many settlers as possible on the ‘Israeli’ side of the fence. In the process, it trapped thousands of Palestinians in enclaves between the fence and the Green Line, caught tens of thousands in areas completely surrounded by the barrier, and left others separated from their farmlands. In 2003, Tirza described the route as a ‘deference line’ for an Israeli-Palestinian border. At a legal conference in 2005, Tzipi Livni — then justice minister in Sharon’s government — said the fence was ‘the future border of Israel.’”  
The religious extremism which has grown on the West Bank is striking. The Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in the settlement of Yitz near Nablus has a violent history which goes back at least as far as a 1989 rampage in the Palestinian village of Kifi Harit, during which 16-year-old Ibt Hisam Bozaya was shot dead. Four yeshiva students received brief sentences for that incident after a plea bargain. The head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg, responded to their arrest by declaring: “Any trial based on the assumption that Jews and goyim are equal is a total travesty of justice.” Ginzburg went on to write a eulogy for the mass murderer, Baruch Goldstein.  
Gorenberg shows how the Israeli government, by subsidizing right-wing yeshivas, has fostered a new form of Jewish “racism.” In late 2009, two rabbis from the Od Yosef Yeshiva, Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur, published a book called The Law of The King, whose “repeated themes,” Gorenberg notes, “are that a Jew’s life is worth more than a gentile’s, and that for a Jew to kill a gentile is lesser sin than killing another Jew ... In the years 2000 to 2010, the government allocated an average of nearly $400,000 annually to Od Yosef Hai, nearly half its budget came from the state.”  
In a war between Jews and non-Jews, Rabbis Shapira and Elitzur declare, Jews are permitted to kill anyone from the opposing side who poses a threat, even in the most indirect way. There is no moral problem, they state, with the death of civilians who live near an army base or weapons plant, even if they are children, because they stand in the way of a legitimate target. Indeed, they claim there is even a basis in religious law to argue that children may be intentionally targeted “if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us.”  
Justifying War Crimes  
“Rather than a leaflet rationalizing theft,” writes Gorenberg, “this is a full volume justifying war crimes, desecrating the faith in whose name it is supposedly written. Even after The Law of The King made headlines, it seems no one in the Education or Welfare ministries considered whether the government should be funding an institution that taught racism ... Finally, some time during 2010 both ministries suspended their funding ... the spokesmen of both ministries insisted that the delay was due to reviews of Od Yosef Hai’s accounting and possible over reporting of the number of students. By implication, once the bookkeeping problem was resolved, the flow of money could resume.”  
Israel’s religious establishment increasingly embraced the outlook of the militant settler movement. In October 2004, former chief rabbi Avraham Shapira, then the religious right’s leading authority on Jewish law, declared that religious soldiers must tell their commanders that they would no more follow an order to evacuate settlers than they would obey an order to eat pork. “Heaven doesn’t want this,” Shapira asserted in an interview published in the settler newspaper Besheva. The following day, 60 rabbis — including several prominent heads of yeshivot — issued a proclamation stating, “It is forbidden for a Jew to participate or assist in dismantling settlements.”  
In 2006, Rabbi Avi Hai Ronski of Itamar was appointed the IDF’s new chief rabbi. He was a founder of Itamar, one of the extremist settlements ringing Nablus. In the past he had written to an army medic that keeping the Sabbath took priority over saving a gentile’s life. The medic could treat a wounded Arab captive on the seventh day only because it was necessary to avoid causing hatred toward Jews and to interrogate the captive. “In context,” writes Gorenberg, “the implication was that religious law required less concern with non-Jews’ lives — a view I can only describe as defiling Judaism.”  
Operation Cast Lead  
During Operation Cast Lead, the IDF invasion of Gaza in January 2009, the rabbinate issued a booklet for soldiers, containing selections from the teachings of Shlomo Aviner. In it, Aviner wrote that the Torah forbade “giving up a millimeter” of the Land of Israel to Gentiles, even by allowing Palestinian autonomy. Jews were commanded to go to war to conquer the land, Aviner said. He explicitly rejected the idea that saving Jewish lives might be more important than territory. Gorenberg writes that, “The pocket-sized booklet showed how the religious right had taken the principles of the secular Zionist far-right from the 1930s and 1940s — militarism, national pride, the Whole Land of Israel — and dressed them in theology ... In the traditional view, a Jew sanctifies God’s name — that shows the purity of his religion and God — when he is strictly honest or avoids anger. When he is crude, dishonest or cruel he ‘desecrates the Name.’ In Aviner’s description, God’s reputation in the world rested on whether Jews looked strong or weak.”  
Many people outside of Israel, both Jews and non-Jews, believe that Israel is a diorama of traditional Jewish life in Eastern Europe before World War II. This, Gorenberg argues, is not the case at all: “... Israel’s present-day version of ultra-Orthodoxy is a creation of the Jewish state. Policies with unexpected effects fostered this new form of Judaism … at once cloistered and militant ... Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community is ever more dependent on the state and, through it, on other people’s labor. Exploiting political patronage, ultra-Orthodox clerics have largely taken over the state’s religious bureaucracy, exposing extreme interpretations of Jewish law on other Jews. By exempting the ultra-Orthodox from basic educational requirements, the democratic state fosters a burgeoning sector of society that neither understands nor values democracy. And to protect their own growing settlements, Haredim parties are now essential partners in the pro-settlement coalitions of the right.”  
Though ultra-Orthodox men spend years engaged in study, their schooling does nothing to prepare them for jobs in a modern economy. From their teens on, their curriculum is devoid of mathematics, sciences, foreign languages and other general studies. Thus, notes Gorenberg, “The ‘society of scholars’ took shape ... They created a new interpretation of Jewish practices, a strict constructionism that was itself a product of modernity. This is the shared attribute of fundamentalist movements — they are creations of the present claiming to be old-time religion.”  
Learning Science  
Gorenberg points out that it is ironic that some of the leading medieval Jewish sages regarded learning the science of their own time as a religious value. The towering 12th century rabbi, philosopher and physician, Moses Maimonides taught that knowledge of the natural world was the path to love God. Gorenberg argues that, “It is not a democracy’s legitimate business to intervene and finance a religious subculture. Nor should a democracy promote a kind of education that makes its graduates into economic captives of the sectarian community … one source of employment for Haredim men has been the state rabbinate and rabbinic courts. The rabbinate has exclusive jurisdiction over marriage between Jews within Israel. The main function of the rabbinic courts is divorce, also a religious monopoly. For mixed couples, or for Jews who don’t want to deal with a clerical bureaucracy, the only alternative to the rabbinate for marriage is going abroad for a civil ceremony.”  
The state appointed and financed rabbinical court judges have adopted a radical thesis that for a conversion to Judaism to be valid, a convert has to have sincerely committed herself to keeping Jewish law — and sincerity at the moment of conversion can be measured by her behavior years later. Thus, if the convert eats no kosher food, works on the Sabbath, perhaps if she fails to cover her hair after marriage, a court can annul her conversion. Needless to say, conversion performed abroad by non-Orthodox rabbis — and even by most Orthodox rabbis — is not recognized as legitimate.  
In 2008, the state’s rabbinic court of appeals endorsed this narrow view, writes Gorenberg, “when it upheld a rabbinic judge’s ruling in a divorce case involving a Danish-born convert. Because she had not kept a strict Orthodox lifestyle, the appeals court affirmed, her conversion 17 years earlier was invalid. Rather than issue a divorce, the judge annulled her marriage. The ruling meant she could not remarry a Jew without moving abroad. Her children, raised as Jews, had lost their identity, and were likewise added to a rabbinic blacklist of people ineligible to marry Jews in Israel ... In religious terms, the ruling was a scandal. It uprooted the principle of Judaism that a convert must be treated as the equal of a Jew from birth. The greater scandals, however, are that the state empowered a particular set of rabbis to impose their views on other Jews, and that it allowed them to negate a citizen’s civil right to marry.”  
State Religion  
The establishment of a state religion — dominated by a taxpayer-paid Orthodox rabbinate — has, Gorenberg believes, harmed Judaism and alienated many Israelis from it. There is no civil marriage in Israel. Only Orthodox rabbis can perform weddings and funerals. Jews and non-Jews can only marry by going abroad. This, Gorenberg declares, is hardly religious freedom as it is understood in the West.  
While Israel began as a parliamentary democracy, and still is for its Jewish residents, it is something far different for both Palestinian citizens of Israel and those living in the occupied territories. Gorenberg argues that short-sighted policies, unintended consequences, and the refusal to heed warnings now threaten the state’s identity and existence. By keeping the territories it occupied in 1967, he believes Israel has crippled its democracy and the rule of law.  
“I write from an Israel with a divided soul,” Gorenberg declares. “It is not only defined by its contradictions: it is at risk of being torn apart by them. It is a country with uncertain borders and a government that ignores its own laws. Its democratic ideals, much as they have helped shape its history, are on the verge of being remembered among the false political promises of 20th century ideologues. What, Gorenberg asks, will Israel be in 5 years, or 20: “Will it be the Second Israeli Republic, a thriving democracy within smaller borders? Or a pariah state where one ethnic group rules over another? Or a territory marked on the map, between the river and the sea, where the state has been replaced by two warring communities? Will it be the hub of the Jewish world, or a place that most Jews abroad prefer not to think about? The answers depend on what Israel does now.”  
Liberal Democracy  
If Israel is to establish itself as a liberal democracy, Gorenberg believes, it must: (1) end the settlement enterprise, end the occupation and find a peaceful way to partition the land between Jordan and the Mediterranean; (2) divorce state and synagogue — freeing the state from clericalism, and religion from the state; and (3) graduate from being an ethnic movement to being a democratic station which all citizens enjoy equality.”  
“Nothing does more to alienate Jews from Judaism in Israel than the various reminders of state ‘support’ for religion,” argues Gorenberg, an Israeli patriot and committed Jew. He urges a comparison with America, which, constitutionally, is the most secular country in the West, yet, as a society, is strikingly religious. Nearly two-thirds of Americans report that religion is important in their lives, compared to a median of 38 percent in developed countries. It is the author’s opinion that, “In Israel, once the state ceases to fund and sanction specific varieties of religion, Judaism is likely to flourish, invite wider interest and take new form.”  
In recent days, Gorenberg shows, Israel is moving further away from its democratic principles. He points to Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, “the national figure who most embodied political reaction. Lieberman’s themes are a bellicose foreign policy, the need for a regime based on a powerful, unfettered leader, and — most of all — the danger of domestic enemies. The enemies list begins with Arab citizens. ‘Every place in the world where there are two peoples — two religions, two languages — there is friction and conflict,’ Lieberman once told me. The solution, he asserted, was total political division, meaning that Israel had to rid itself of its Arab minority.”  
Funding Human Rights Groups  
Efforts to limit the funding of human rights organizations are one sign of a retreat from democracy, in Gorenberg’s view. He also cites a bill sponsored by the far-right National Union, which seeks to reign in the country’s cinema industry. Recent Israeli films have won international acclaim for their artistic quality and their searing examination of Israeli society, but the cinema renaissance depended on government subsidies. Under the bill, for a production to receive funding, everyone working on it would have to declare fealty to “the State of Israel, its symbols, and its Jewish and democratic values.”  
Gorenberg provides this assessment: “Rather than simply declaring allegiance to Israel to be naturalized, an immigrant would have to affirm loyalty to Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic state.’ The proposed amendment did not apply to immigrants coming to Israel under the Law of Return. That is, only people with no ethnic connection to being Jewish would have to declare allegiance to Israel as a ‘Jewish state’ ... It has proven impossible to maintain a regime in occupied territories in which Palestinians and Jews live under separate law, or under no laws at all, without undermining law and democracy within Israel. By acting like a movement rather than a democratic state beyond the Green Line, Israel has become less of a state in its own territory. Only months after Israel conquered the West Bank, philosopher and dissident Yeshayahu Leibowitz warned that continuing the occupation would ‘undermine the social structure we have created and cause the corruption of individuals, both Jew and Arab.’ Leibowitz’s warning has proved all too prophetic. One reason for reaching a two state solution is to bring peace. Another, at least as important, is to begin the work of repairing Israel itself.”  
Wants Israel to Save Itself  
Gershom Gorenberg has written a thoughtful book. He wants Israel to save itself. He writes as one disappointed with what he believes was the early Zionist commitment to a democratic state and what he believes is its abandonment. But he does not consider that, perhaps from the start, the idea of establishing a “Jewish state” and declaring that Jews everywhere in the world have a “right to return” while the Palestinians — who, he admits, were, in part “expelled” from the area — do not, violated both international law and traditional moral norms. The Palestinians argue that the Western world tried to make up to the European Jews for the evils of the Nazis by giving them the land of the Arab Palestinians — who were simply innocent bystanders.  
Deeming it too late to alter these historical facts, Gorenberg writes that what must be done now is to divide the land and create two states. This book should be required reading for those who view Israel simply as “the only democracy” in the Middle East. Gershom Gorenberg has provided a blueprint for a better future. This deeply personal critique deserves serious consideration. •  
Allan C. Brownfeld is a nationally syndicated columnist and serves as Associate Editor of The Lincoln Review and Editor of Issues. The author of five books, he has served on the staff of the U.S. Senate, House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President.

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