7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Hirsh Goodman says he once resented it when the question was raised as to whether or not Israel could survive. The question was not after all raised about other countries. But his long years of experience and many recent developments bring him to a sense that the question is a real one, and should be addressed. In this book he addresses the question outlining the various threats Israel faces, externally and internally, and suggesting the right path for it to go in.
Among the major dangers is the nuclear program of Radical Islamic Iran. Goodman gives a painfully accurate description of the geographical tinyness and vulnerability of Israel. Between Haifa and Tel Aviv along the coast is the heartland of productive and economically successful Israel. Israel is according to Goodman one nuclear weapon away from total destruction. Despite this Goodman also outlines Israel's superior offensive military capabilities and suggests that even Iran is unlikely to risk the kind of devastation Israel could inflict upon it. He does not say this but in fact Israel could put an end to Iran by destroying the greater Tehran area.
Goodman also talks about other threats including internal ones. He sees the growing Haredi community as a threat. But presents the optimistic idea that this population will choose to integrate economically into the state. He also outlines the problem of the Arab minority of Israel and suggests that their integration depends in part upon their willingness to do national service. He does not suppose that this will make them forget their Palestinian Arab identity but will rather give them a real stake in the state they live in. Goodman explains the negative role a number of treasonous Palestinian Israeli, or Israeli Arab members of Parliament have played.
Goodman is a secular liberal and speaks about the importance for survival of Israel maintaining its democratic values. He claims the democratic character of the state has been threatened by those on the Right of the political spectrum.
In outlining the situation with the Palestinians he claims that the Jewish majority in the whole of the land will soon be lost. He does not relate to the demographic claims that in fact long-standing demographic trends have been halted and that the Jewish population is growing at a much larger rate than previously expected. He does not consider then the possibiity that the Jews may be able to maintain a good majority in the whole of the land.
Goodman speaks too about America's ties with Israel, and goes into great detail about what Israel owes the U.S. Perhaps he should have said a bit more about what Israel gives back to the U.S.
On the whole he shows that his long experience in Israel (From 1965) and the closeness he has had with many figures of the military and political establishment have made him up-to- date and understanding of Israeli realities.
However most strangely on the question which he considers most important, making peace, he has an incoherent view. Goodman believes that making Peace with the Palestinians is critical to Israel's survival. But he at the same time acknowledges that with 'Hamas' in Gaza Israel cannot hope to have a full peace. He seems to want an Israeli withdrawal from 'the West Bank' the creation of a Palestinian state there , and a Peace in which international pressure is withdrawn from Israel. But clearly Gaza and the Palestinians there are an essential part of the whole question. So given 'Hamas' genocidal views of Jews and Israel there can be no Peace now.And Israel if it is realistic has to be prepared to continue to maintain a superior military power if it is to survive.
In this he is aware of the special inventive and creator quality of many Israelis and feels this is essential to Israel's survival.
This is on the whole a very good book, despite its flaws in outlook, and one which reveals a great deal of insight into Israeli reality.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I can't think of any country whose legitimacy has been questioned as much as the 63-year old state of Israel, especially among the left-leaning people who once supported the nation as it repeatedly faced wars and terrorist attacks by Muslim nations that far outnumbered the country of about 8 million Jews and Arabs.
Israeli journalist and security analyst Hirsh Goodman, born in South Africa and an Israeli since 1965, knows real apartheid first hand and in "The Anatomy of Israel's Survival" (PublicAffairs, 288 pages, $26.99) he resoundingly refutes the anti-Semitic charges by Jimmy Carter and other haters of Israel that the country with 20 percent of its population of Arab and Bedouin heritage engages in the former racist practices of his native land.
Goodman notes that former President Carter referred to Israel as a "cancer" and later as an "apartheid state" (page 162) and that his national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski "was considered Rasputin in Israel and an anti-Semite" (page 162). Refuting the misconception that American administrations have been uniformly friendly to Israel, Goodman on the same page writes that Caspar Weinberger, Ronald Reagan's secretary of defense, was the only foreign dignitary in the history of Israel to refuse to visit Yad Vashem, the memorial to the six million Holocaust victims. Weinberger, who died in 2006, was a Christian who was Jewish on his paternal grandfather's side. Even a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, Henry Kissinger, was recorded as saying that the Jews of Russia should be "gassed" in comments with his boss, the anti-Semite Richard Nixon.
Goodman has been called a "liberal Zionist," which some would say is a contradiction in terms. He's against Jewish settlers in the Arab villages of greater Jerusalem, which he argues should be the capital of an independent Palestine. Western liberals and "progressives" should applaud this move, outlined on Pages 194-200. In those six pages he deals with Vice President Joe Biden's March 2010 visit to Israel and the "open slap in the face to the American administration" caused by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorizing Israeli settlements in Arab parts of Jerusalem.
As young Jews leave Jerusalem, a city too besotted with religion for increasingly secular Jews, Arabs are attracted to the city, especially since residence there gives them most of the right of Israeli citizens, "including probably the best health care and social services in the Middle East," Goodman says.
Of the approximately one million Arab citizens of Israel, Goodman would like to see them included in the mandatory national service young Israeli Jews must complete -- not the military service but service in health care, security services, working with the disadvantaged, etc. "Universal service," he writes, "is the way to integrate, not only the Hareidim [the ultra orthodox Jews]
but also the Israeli Arabs into Israeli society."
Refuting the the phony "apartheid" argument is the freedom of religion granted to all Israelis -- Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Baha'i, which has its world headquarters in Haifa -- which is not the case in most of the Middle East. More than 800,000 Jews were driven out of Muslim countries in the wake of Israel's 1948 creation and subsequent wars, making most of those countries without Jews or with pitifully small remnant communities in places like Turkey or Tunisia.
The recent upheavals in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Yemen and other countries have raised anew the question "can Israel survive?" and beyond have raised it anew for Israelis -- and Jews throughout the world -- as well as their supporters and adversaries. Goodman set out to answer it, through rigorous factual assessment of each of the challenges his country faces, and by consulting experts and participants on all sides of every complex issue. But what he learned was that this once `essential question' has become a dangerous distraction.
Goodman shares his clarifying analyses both of recent political events and of Israel's strategic position. He shows how the country's obsession with dangers posed by outside forces has obscured the harder issues facing it from within ever since its leaders disregarded [Israel's first prime minister David] Ben Gurion's advice to leave the territories captured during the Six Day War of 1967.
Goodman argues that Israel's survival is jeopardized more by the competence of its leaders and fissures in its social and political system than by any outside threat--even the apocalyptic-sounding ones from Iran.
A severe critic of former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and current P.M. Netanyahu for their settlement policies, Goodman nonetheless says (Page 101) that "The Palestinians have to realize that Israel cannot be expected to tear itself to pieces for the sake of peace. Peace should mean that 50,000 or so Jews could live in Palestine as Israeli citizens, voting in Israeli elections, but paying their local taxes to the Palestinian Authority, which would in turn guarantee the safety and security of those settlers who chose to remain in Palestine...."
Good luck on that! Especially considering that Goodman writes (Page 102) about the hatred and the conflict between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza: "In the takeover of Gaza, Hamas showed no mercy, throwing Fatah loyalists off the tallest buildings in the [Gaza] Strip and having gangs of hooligans kill others, including so-called collaborators with Israel, who were shot without trial." So much for the religion of peace, which has also seen horrendous massacres of Muslims vs. Muslims in Syria and Libya, among other countries.
Turkey, wrongly seen as a model for Muslim democracy, according to David P. Goldman ("Spengler" on the widely read Asia Times Online site) and others, is engaged in a struggle with its Kurdish minority. Kurds and Turks are both Muslims, but that doesn't stop them from hating each other. Goldman writes in his new book "How Civilizations Die" that the current leader of Turkey, President Tayyip Erdogan is really an Islamist, and a radical one at that, in a country that embraced secularism under the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk.
Gaza, ruled by Hamas, which the U.S. and the European Union considers to be a terrorist organization, is a much thornier problem that the relatively moderate West Bank, which Israelis call Judea and Samaria. Hamas is funded by Iran, which has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
"The Anatomy of Israel's Survival" is a must-read book by everybody, whether they are supporters of Israel or not. The country, a First World democracy -- the only one in the region now that Turkey is well on the road to being a radical Islamist state -- is not going to disappear. Get used to that, Goodman says.
PublicAffairs is to be congratulated once again for publishing an important book that everybody should read, regardless of their views on Israel and the Palestinians.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I'm hard-pressed to write anything as in-depth and articulate as the other two reviewers so far. I agree with both of them, and they've given a good summary of the book for anyone interested in an overview of the subject matter.
I particularly found hope in his discussion of the choices that Israel and Israelis face going forward, and that peace can actually be a choice of the Israeli people. Both sides seem to continually point fingers in the other direction as to what is stopping peace. Goodman puts forth the case that there is a lot that Israel can do to make the prospects for peace much better, such as solving the Heredim welfware problem in Jerusalem, integrating all Jews (orthodox or no), Israeli Arabs and Bedouin into some form of national service. And of course, stopping settlement expansion is a key thing too.
He is correct in postulating that the majority of younger, up-and-coming Palestinians in the West Bank itself do want peace, and furthermore they want a secular future, not the one Hamas is creating in Gaza. However, Israeli occupation will undermine that and make them susceptible to the ideas of Hamas and others. He also claims that young Israeli politicians are more moderate and peace-wanting than the current crop of political opportunists that currently occupy high positions.
Goodman does not whitewash the fact that some key figures in Israel, such as Avi Lieberman, have extreme and racist views, and reports with matter-of-factness what some Israeli Arab MKs have done that is entirely outrageous and the racism that exists there as well.
As far as I can tell this book is about the fairest recounting of the situation, and hope for the future that I've ever read from the Israeli point of view. Goodman is evidence that there are Israelis committed to peace and a future where it's possible to live in harmony with Palestinian neighbors. Israel is a legitimate country, and the aspirations of Palestinians are also legitimate and can be met in a mutually beneficial way.