Fifth Conversation Chapter Eight: Settlement 1975

Precis

Shavit opens his chapter on settlement by exploring the effects of the 1967 and the 1973 wars. The Six Day war of 1967 brought Israeli control of the territories and liberated a potential messianic force within the ranks of religious Zionism. The 1973 war was a war of deep trauma for Israel and the eventual victory could not change the deep discontent regarding the war, the government and indeed, the entire leadership. A malaise was revealed and the country went into a kind of spiritual tailspin. Many sought new directions and new certainties. It is in the contrasting but cumulative effects of these two wars that Shavit locates the roots of the whole settlement enterprise. (more…)

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Sixth Conversation Chapter Ten: Peace 1993

Precis

Similar to the settlement chapter, this chapter is structured around a series of conversations with central figures in the peace movement. At the center stand three leading figures, Yossi Sarid, Yossi Beilin and Amos Oz with others ranged around them. Shavit, who himself played a central role in that movement, becomes an active participant in the conversations, arguing with them and accusing them of misleading the movement by concentrating on the post-67 territories, and promoting the possibility of gaining peace in exchange for a return of the territories. (more…)

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Seventh Conversation Chapter Eleven: J’accuse 1999

Precis

ארי7This chapter deals with the rise of the Oriental Jews (Mizrachim) in a process that began in the early 1970’s but rose to its zenith in the 90’s and the first years of the new millennium.  Most chapters in this book do not have one star figure, but in this chapter, there is no mistaking the star, Aryeh Deri, the founder and old-new leader of the Shas party, the traditional/Charedi Mizrachi  political party that first appeared in 1984 winning four seats in the Knesset, a number that had grown to 17 seats (450,000 votes) by 1999.

Shas was the first major Mizrachi political party.  It rode on a ticket of ethnic Mizrachi pride and traditional religious observance – everything that pre and early state Zionism was not. Deri, whose meteoric rise to power electrified the society as a whole, was later jailed for corruption.  Shavit’s story and interview with Deri tries to understand what that rise and fall represented to the community of non-Ashkenazi Jews in Israel. (more…)

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Eighth Conversation Chapter Thirteen: Up The Galilee 2003

Precis

In this chapter Shavit encounters the voices of the Arabs of the State of Israel. The central speaker here is attorney and activist Mohammad Dahla. Shavit and Dahla co-chaired the Association of Civil Rights in Israel in the mid-1990s. As Dahla shares his outlook in detail through this chapter, the gulf between these two friends on the legitimacy of Zionism and the viability of the continuing Jewish State becomes apparent.

ארי1Dahl makes a number of very clear points. He questions – and ultimately denies – any Jewish claims to historic continuity within the land.  Zionism is thus reduced to an invading colonial force which has come from the outside and imposed itself on the Arabs of Palestine. As a majority in the land, Zionism has imposed an alien regime.  It forgets that it is actually a minority in a larger Arab and Moslem world, a world growing stronger and larger all the time. Ultimately, he says, Zionism will have to change and will have to learn to share the land, relinquishing sole sovereignty for its Jewish inhabitants and working out a genuine power sharing arrangement with the Arab inhabitants.  (more…)

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