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A masterful analysis of the Jewish stateDec 11 2007
- Published on Amazon.com
With the recent spate of anti-Zionist books that deny Israel's right to exist, it's refreshing to read a book that honestly and fully explores a range of questions about Israel without resorting to a critique of its very legitimacy. This kind of balance is a rare commodity today, when debates about Israel tend to be polarized and unilluminating. In contrast to most other books I've read on this subject, Israel's Higher Law sheds light, not heat.
The book is terrific not because it tracks a middle way through the minefield, but because it deals with arguments from Israelis themselves, and Israelis of all backgrounds. Mazie talks to secular Jews in Tel Aviv, Arab citizens in the Galilee and Hasidim in Mea Shearim and uses their ideas to explore a constellation of ideas about questions like marriage law, Israel's Jewish state symbols, army service exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox and public observance of Shabbat. The reader is drawn into the reasoning of each of these groups about each of these issues, and Mazie is an honest broker in letting everyone speak.
At the end of the book Mazie presents his own arguments about liberal democracy and Judaism in Israel. His discussion is useful for anyone who is both a supporter and a friendly critic of Israel. He saves us both from the post-Zionists and from those who reflexively justify everything Israel does. Everyone engaged in the debate about Israeli democracy will learn something from this book.