Politics and Society in Modern Israel: Myths and Realities

Politics and Society in Modern Israel: Myths and Realities

Politics and Society in Modern Israel: Myths and Realities

Politics and Society in Modern Israel: Myths and Realities

Synopsis

With full coverage of recent dramatic events in Israeli politics from the Rabin assassination through the prime ministership of Benyamin Netanyahu to the electoral victory of Ehud Barak, this is the most current introduction to Israeli politics and society available today. It is also an enormously readable and engaging book. It conveys a strong sense of everyday life in Israel, the ethnic composition and institutional structure of Israeli society, the nuances and contradictions of Israeli identity, Israeli political culture, and the issues that dominate Israeli domestic and foreign policy debates. Enlivened with anecdotes and supplied with maps, a glossary, and suggested readings, this book is accessible to anyone interested. It has been especially popular with students, tourists, and travelers.

Excerpt

Beginnings are notoriously important because divergences that are small at the start of a journey become ever greater as time passes. Decisions made in molten times soon harden and, after they do, it can be hard to change established patterns. That's why it is important to get a sense of Israel in its first year or two: the impact of the war, the lay of the land itself within new borders, the human material, the institutions inherited from the Mandate period, and Israel's early foreign policy. Despite the fact that Jewish civilization and history were already very old in 1948, and that the core institutions of the state had time to mature during the Mandate, the actual establishment and administration of a state still required making many important decisions under great time pressures. Nothing can really be adequate preparation for that.

When we remember, too, that these decisions upon independence all took place in the context of a war on the one hand and relatively huge inflows of immigrants on the other, we begin to understand how frenetic the experiences of Israel's first few years as an independent state truly were. These times, this accelerated experience, set the basic tone for the state as it existed before the epochal June 1967 War, even though, naturally enough, after a few years a sense of normalcy gradually replaced the emergency mentality of the first few years. While the comparison should not be taken too literally, Israel in the nineteen years between 1948 and 1967 felt a little like America between Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown in 1781 and the War of 1812: new, exhilarated, and successful, but worried about how fragile everything still seemed, and conscious of the fact that history was being made beneath the very soles of one's shoes.

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