Richard Ben Cramer in his book How Israel Lost took me beyond Israeli borders to witness the construction of Israeli’s society and to understand the complexity of Israel-Palestine’s conflict. The reasons I picked up this book because first, the writer is a jewish and an american journalist who lived for a long time in both Israel in Palestine. Secondly, I am interested in Judaism studies and culture. Anyway, Cramer primarily discuss the four following questions:
- Why do we (American) care about Israel?
- Why don’t the Palestinians have a state?
- What is a Jewish state?
- Why is there no peace?
I was very curious to know the reason behind America enormous support for Israel and I found out from this book that Israel existence is very important for American christians because it prepares for the second coming of Christ. According to Cramer: ” The bible says that the second coming of Christ will require that the Jews be “ingathered” again in Zion, which will bring on Armageddon, which will cause Jesus to return. There’s also a political meeting of the minds, going back to the days when the Christian right saw Israel as a brave anti-Soviet outpost of Judeo-Christian values”
I thought it is interesting to know that Israeli society is split over between religious and secular Jews (It seems that there is always a fights between religious and secular people in every society in this world!!) In addition, Israel’s society is divided into tribes like, the Ramat Hasharon tribe, the tribe of the Russions, the tribe of the Old Left, and the tribe of the settlers and the old Right Wing and finally the tribe of Haredim. Cramer thinks that “Some of this tribalization did come to Israel from outside- from other Western societies. The zionist state has always been kind of trendy in its social engineering. Zionism itself was just a Jewish version of European nineteenth century nationalism”
From the book, I learned that Isreal’s society is build up of: First, Ashkenazi sabras who were born in Israel from European families, “they are the intellectuals, heads of high-tech companies, the head of the army- and they’re looking down with hubris on the entire rest of the population”. Second, the Russions, who lives in their ghetto. “They have their theaters, their papers, their own TV, their Groceries.” Thirdly, Israeli Arab who lives also in their ghetto. “They also have their papers, their own TV, their own politics”. Fourthly, the ultra-orthodox- who also “have their own paper, fifty stations on the radio- no TV because they don’t watch TV”. Fivthly, the settlers and finally the Sephardim who came from Arab countries. “They are the cooks, the drivers, the workers”
- My Selections from the book:
If George W. Bush derives any benefit from caring about Israel, or trying to help Israel, it isn’t from Jews. The only plausible political gain comes from his fellow born-again Christians. p5
The fact is, Israel sells. And we have sold ourselves on Israel. Why? Because in some measure we all Christians who see and support shared value there. p6
Thirty five years of occupation doesn’t make it smell like home to us…. Or put it another way: somewhere along the line, we got the feeling, “they aren’t like us” Or maybe we don’t want to be like them. And this is just one of the ways- one big one- how Israel lost. p13
And then I met the Arabs- live ones- and they were good: hospital, dignified, rational, articulate, and oppressed. But that wasn’t the most surprising and disturbing fact that I had to work in. The true astonishment was, simply, they were here. They were here, their fathers were here, their grandfathers.. for centuries! p18
The latest studies show that one out of nine Israel women lives with violence (beating, rape or threats of death) from the male at home. p28
“If you say they build an unauthorized settlement, then they call you a liar because they say they got their authorization from God, three thousand years ago.” If Elisha (Israel journalist) ran a story on Arabs- or put anything on the air about Arabs- that didn’t take proper account of “their murderous nature” then he was an apologist” p34
In the orthodox vision, Jews were supposed to live by the laws of Moses, study the Torah, and pray to God to send the Messiah- their (only) salvation. p146
The idea of a Jewish state, based not on study but on labor.. based not on God’s law but on the principle of the Enlightenment- on Rousseau… The idea of Jews toiling and fighting for a land of their own- so they could write their own laws- the rabbis regarded as a disgraceful heresy.p 146
In that same chapter, God also says to Moses: ” But if you don’t drive out the inhabitant of the land from before you, then it shall be that those whom you let remain shall be irritants in your eyes and thorns in your sides, and they shall harass you in the land where you dwell. Moreover, it shall be that I will do to you as I thought to do to them. p167
If the Jewish state is about Jewish law, then how is that different- in any moral sense from an Islamic republic? p168
The idea that wives and daughters would be out of the house learning!- was anathema (Collection of remains for burial is, after all, a commandment of the Torah, and ultra-orthodox women do not study Torah.) Plus, they would be talking to people outside their families- which is a sin. p174
Meshi :”So, being Jewish, you don’t need a state. You can be a Jew in Germany, America, Morocco- the meaning is simply that you’re keeping the rules you got from the Torah. That’s the only meaning of it”. p176
Fruman said he has studied Islam for twenty years, and he will not, cannot, claim that as a Jew, he has that One Great Thing: “I don’t have God or The Truth, and they don’t have God or The Truth. But God is between us” He said his life’s work is making a meeting over the differences. p184
” I can’t say why,” she says. “But I want to go into a thing as deeply as you can. For me, activism is not telling others what to do. I have to do it myself… It is too high, what I say,,,,” p187
Some of this tribalization did come to Israel from outside- from other Western societies. The zionist state has always been kind of trendy in its social engineering. Zionism itself was just a Jewish version of European nineteenth century nationalism. p 194
But any Jew who’s not an Israeli, and not an Israeli, and not on psychotropic drugs, could solve this Peace-for-Israel in about ten minutes of focused thoughts” p227
It’s a nice American way to say: That’s not our business, we can’t sort that out. But we are the ones who can sort it out and since the holy-in-the head warriors have made bombs of our airplanes, it behooves us to try.p228
The fact is, Arabs and Jews lived in peace, or at least in habitual calm, for hundreds of years under the Turks whom they equally and severally feared and resented. Anti semitism was an import from Europe- like Zionism- and it wasn’t coincidence that they took root at the same time. p228
For without fear- without dead Jews, attack on Jews, grief or hate for jews- without threats to Jews, zionism itself has no rationale. p265