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My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Ari Shavit

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Kurzbeschreibung

10. Februar 2015
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE ECONOMIST

Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
 
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
 
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.
 
As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.
 
Praise for My Promised Land

“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. . . . [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
 
“Spellbinding . . . In this divided, fought-over shard of land splintered from the Middle East barely seventy years ago, Mr. Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”The Economist
 
“[A] searingly honest, descriptively lush, painful and riveting story of the creation of Zionism in Israel and [Shavit’s] own personal voyage.”—The Washington Post

“[An] important and powerful book.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review


From the Hardcover edition.

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“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. . . . [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
 
“Spellbinding . . . In this divided, fought-over shard of land splintered from the Middle East barely seventy years ago, Mr. Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”The Economist
 
“[A] searingly honest, descriptively lush, painful and riveting story of the creation of Zionism in Israel and [Shavit’s] own personal voyage.”—The Washington Post
 
“[A] must-read book . . . Shavit celebrates the Zionist man-made miracle—from its start-ups to its gay bars—while remaining affectionate, critical, realistic and morally anchored. . . . His book is a real contribution to changing the conversation about Israel and building a healthier relationship with it. Before their next ninety-minute phone call, both Barack and Bibi should read it.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
 
“[An] important and powerful book . . . [Shavit] has an undoctrinaire mind. He comes not to praise or to blame, though along the way he does both, with erudition and with eloquence; he comes instead to observe and to reflect. This is the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read. It is a Zionist book unblinkered by Zionism. It is about the entirety of the Israeli experience. Shavit is immersed in all of the history of his country.  While some of it offends him, none of it is alien to him. . . . The author of My Promised Land is a dreamer with an addiction to reality. He holds out for affirmation without illusion. Shavit’s book is an extended test of his own capacity to maintain his principles in full view of the brutality that surrounds them.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Shavit is a master storyteller. [His] retelling of history jars us out of our familiar retrospections, reminds us (and we do need reminders) that there are historical reasons why Israel is a country on the edge. . . . Required reading for both the left and the right.”The Jewish Week
 
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years . . . [The] book’s real power: On an issue so prone to polemic, Mr. Shavit offers candor.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
“The most extraordinary book that I’ve read on [Israel] since Amos Elon’s book called The Israelis, and that was published in the late sixties.”—David Remnick, on Charlie Rose
 
“Reads like a love story and a thriller at once.”—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

My Promised Land is an Israeli book like no other. Not since Amos Elon’s The Israelis, Amos Oz’s In the Land of Israel, and Thomas Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem has there been such a powerful and comprehensive book written about the Jewish State and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ari Shavit is one of Israel’s leading columnists and writers, and the story he tells describes with great empathy the Palestinian tragedy and the century-long struggle between Jews and Arabs over the Holy Land. While Shavit is being brutally honest regarding the Zionist enterprise, he is also insightful, sensitive, and attentive to the dramatic life-stories of his fascinating heroes and heroines. The result is a unique nonfiction book that has the qualities of fine literature. It brings to life epic history without being a conventional history book. It deepens contemporary political understanding without being a one-sided political polemic. It is painful and provocative, yet colorful, emotional, life-loving, and inspiring. My Promised Land is the ultimate personal odyssey of a humanist exploring the startling biography of his tormented homeland, which is at the very center of global interest.”—Ehud Barak, former Prime Minister and Defense Minister of Israel
 
“With deeply engaging personal narratives and morally nuanced portraits, Ari Shavit takes us way beneath the headlines to the very heart of Israel’s dilemmas in his brilliant new work. His expertise as a reporter comes through in the interviews, while his lyricism brings the writing—and the people—to life. Shavit also challenges Israelis and Diaspora Jewry to be bold in imagining the next chapter for Israel, a challenge that will no doubt be informed by this important book.”—Rick Jacobs, president, Union for Reform Judaism

“This is the epic history that Israel deserves—beautifully written, dramatically rendered, full of moral complexity. Ari Shavit has made a storied career of explaining Israel to Israelis; now he shares his mind-blowing, trustworthy insights with the rest of us. It is the best book on the subject to arrive in many years.”—Franklin Foer, editor, The New Republic
 
“A beautiful, mesmerizing, morally serious, and vexing book. I’ve been waiting most of my adult life for an Israeli to plumb the deepest mysteries of his country’s existence and share his discoveries, and Ari Shavit does so brilliantly, writing simultaneously like a poet and a prophet. My Promised Land is a remarkable achievement.”—Jeffrey Goldberg, national correspondent, The Atlantic
 
“Ari Shavit’s My Promised Land is without question one of the most important books about Israel and Zionism that I have ever read. Both movingly inspiring and at times heartbreakingly painful, My Promised Land tells the story of the Jewish state as it has never been told before, capturing both the triumph and the torment of Israel’s experience and soul. This is the book that has the capacity to reinvent and reshape the long-overdue conversation about how Israel’s complex past ought to shape its still-uncertain future.”—Daniel Gordis, author of Saving Israel and Koret Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College, Jerusalem

“This book is vital reading for Americans who care about the future, not only of the United States but of the world.”—Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power


From the Hardcover edition.

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Ari Shavit is a leading Israeli journalist, a columnist for Haaretz, and a commentator on Israeli public television.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Amazon.com: 4.5 von 5 Sternen  923 Rezensionen
159 von 179 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Lyrically Written and Deeply Reported 2. Mai 2013
Von Ira E. Stoll - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
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This book is a beautifully written and deeply reported attempt to explain Israel to Israelis and to the world.

The author is candid about his own perspective -- a "left-wing journalist," an "anti-occupation peacenik," yet nonetheless one genuinely aspiring to be balanced and fair. His great grandfather Herbert Bentwich arrived in Israel in 1897, and at the beginning and end of the book the author retraces Bentwich's steps.

Pro-Israel American Jews such as myself will find this book troubling. It argues that the crux of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is not the 1967 Six-Day War and the occupation that resulted, but rather the events of 1948. It recounts (though without footnotes, and in a chapter that may well be challenged by other historians) an episode in 1948 in which, the author says, David Ben Gurion and Yitzhak Rabin ordered the expulsion of 35,000 Palestinian Arabs from the city of Lydda.

For all his directness about what he calls "the tragedy of 1948," Shalit is proud of what he calls the "miracle" of Zionism, He writes about Israel's orange groves, its wineries, its high-tech industry, its absorption of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust and from North Africa, Yemen, and Iraq, its music scene. He is critical of the Israeli peace movement for imagining that the threat to Israel's existence can be solved and peace achieved by withdrawing from the West bank and Gaza, and he is clear-eyed in describing the threats Israel faces from a nuclear-armed Iran and from the surrounding Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinian Arabs.

When prominent Saudi Arabian, Egyptian, Syrian, Iranian and Palestinian Arab journalists write books this critical about their own societies, and those books are published and sold freely in those societies, that will be a day when Israelis and their friends will know that peace is on the way. In the meantime, we can read Ari Shavit, and hope that the discomfort he sometimes makes us feel is not a sign of the confusion or weakness of which he warns, but rather the irreverence and freedom he celebrates and documents.
199 von 253 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen The Good, The Bad, And The Morally Bankrupt 20. Dezember 2013
Von K. Thurm - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I'm afraid I can't share the enthusiasm that most reviewers have for this book. The author is a terribly conflicted individual (with which I sympathize) and this book is just all over the map. It's hard to know where to begin with my review, but I'm going to break it down into three parts.

1. The Good:

I have to give Mr. Shavit credit where credit is due. He goes way out on a limb with his very descriptive tale of what happened to one Palestinian town in 1948. This isn't easy for any Jew or Israeli to do. Most Jewish authors will shy away from this subject. It's almost totally taboo to acknowledge such things. Authors such as Benny Morris and Ilan Pappe have been severely ostracized for writing very detailed accounts of this sordid side of Israeli history. Also, I believe that most Jews (at least American Jews) are terribly ignorant about this topic. This chapter will probably be read by many Jews and I do think that knowledge is the beginning of progress.

Shavit also shares some of his experiences in Gaza while he was in the IDF. I must admit that I was pretty shocked by the daily torture events that took place there. My own ignorance on this particular topic became very obvious to me. Many young stone throwers were undoubtedly turned into real terrorists after being subjected to the Israeli torture tactics. It isn't a pretty story, but it is an important story and I thank Shavit for sharing what he heard and saw while serving in the military.

2. The Bad:

I am not a big fan of Shavit's style of writing. There are endless stories about Jews coming to Israel and planting oranges, olives, pomegranates or whatever. This tale doesn't need to be told 29 times in order to make his point. Less would have been a lot more. Perhaps the editor is also at fault here, but these almost never-ending romantic stories were just too much for me. You'll have to take this criticism with a grain of salt, because most reviewers have said that they loved Shavit's writing style. That leaves me scratching my head, but to each his own.

At one point in his book, Shavit talks about how fast the Jewish growth rate was in Palestine after 1935. His numbers are grossly exaggerated. For you purists, this might be enough to make you not want to read this book. I think that would be a mistake. I would guess that Shavit just assumed his numbers to be correct and that he wasn't really trying to mislead anybody. Perhaps he learned these statistics in school and just assumed them to be correct. In any case, I think it's an unfortunate but relatively innocuous error.

I do have an issue with a serious omission from the book. I'll give Shavit credit for reporting what Ben Gurion said about the necessity of removing Arabs from Palestine, but he did not include the total Ben Gurion statement. Not only did Ben Gurion talk about having to remove the Arabs, but he said that this should be done "by coercion or force." I believe that's an important point which Shavit probably left out on purpose. Just as Americans look up to George Washington, Ben Gurion is a much revered figure among Israeli Jews. The fact that Ben Gurion would say such a thing and then say that he had no moral concerns about it is an important piece of this difficult Middle East puzzle.

I didn't need an entire chapter about the liberal nightlife in Israel. Yes, Israel is a pretty liberal society when it comes to heterosexual and homosexual attitudes. Reading stories about people having sex in nightclub bathrooms was an unnecessary chapter in this book. I sort of get why Shavit included this chapter since these liberal attitudes would not be found in any Arab country, but I still don't think it was particularly relevant or necessary information.

If the author was going to spend an entire chapter on Israel's nightlife, then he should have spent significantly more time going over the problems and discrimination faced by Palestinian Arabs who are Israeli citizens. Shavit could have spent an entire chapter going over the discriminatory land laws in Israel and the underfunding of the Arab public schools. Sadly, there is quite a lot of relevant information on this topic that was totally ignored by the author. As such, this book is terribly incomplete.

Speaking of incomplete, this book is NOT a history book. To be fair, Shavit doesn't claim it is. However, too many reviewers have reviewed this book as if they now understand the complete history of Israel. That is absurd. If you want to read the history of Israel, then pick up one Benny Morris' books. This is the "Cliff Notes" version, at best.

3. The Morally Bankrupt:

And here is where Shavit completely frightens me. When going over the story about what Jews did to one Arab town in 1948, Shavit says some incredibly disgusting and disgraceful things. He doesn't want to stand with those "bleeding-heart Israelis" on this subject. He stands with the perpetrators because without their actions, there would probably be no Israel. Without their actions, he might not have even been born! I am terribly saddened by Shavit's comments. Is this what passes for liberalism in Israel? I was getting nauseous while reading his words. Why is his life more important than some Palestinian Arab's life? Does the end really justify the means? Are we really that callous? When did Shavit lose his moral compass? Did he ever have a moral compass?

As an American, I know that without slavery, my country would have never economically advanced so quickly. Perhaps we wouldn't have become the world's greatest superpower. Does that mean I should stand with the slaveowners? Should I look down my nose at those bleeding-heart liberal Americans who look at that element of our own history with shame? Should I stand with those who slaughtered Native Americans? Can't I love my country and still recognize that some incredibly terrible things were done by my ancestors?

In conclusion, I think this book does have something to offer. I believe that some of the information is powerful and relevant. It can be an important piece of one's education, but please don't let this be the book that shapes all your opinions on this topic.
55 von 69 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Candid and Evocative 13. August 2013
Von J. A Magill - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
What are readers to make of Ari Shavit's beautifully rendered and often profound (and often profoundly depressing) new book? It isn't exactly a history, though it considers a number of key moments in the history of Israel. Nor is it memoir, though Shavit folds his and his family's experience seamlessly into the broader narrative. Creative non-fiction? That feels like a copout. Labels might not matter to some, but I settled in the end on a creative analytical meditation on the miraculous rise, strengths, and challenges of modern Israel. One thing is certain: hate it or love it, no reader will likely finish Shavit's discussion without substantial food for thought.

Writing on a topic that often breeds over simplification and over-confident statements made with excessive surety, Shavit stands out for a refreshing willingness to admit to complexity. He begins by honestly stating his own positions as an "anti-occupation peacenik" and a "left wing journalist." At the same time he eschews, indeed castigates, the current fashion of imagining Israel as the source of all the Middle East's (and even all the world's!) ills. Instead he writes with honest admiration about the miracle of Israel's birth, survival, and success. And as he points out, miracle is very much the right word. Against overwhelming odds, a people dispersed for 2000 years did reunite in their ancient homeland and create a vibrant democracy. Yet no state is perfect. Shavit remains cognoscente of Israel's weaknesses and what it took for the state to survive.

For Shavit, Israel's birth in warfare required hard choices, not the least of which was the uprooting of hostile Arab populations. Nation building is never a clean business. Nation building in wartime is still more so. The 20th Century can be written as a history of "population exchanges" as nation states cemented their authority. Nor does he mince words:

"One thing is clear to me: the brigade commander and military governor were right to get angry at the bleeding-heart Israeli liberals of later years who condemn what they did in Lydda [an Arab town that sat on the crucial Tel Aviv- Jerusalem highway and the source of attacks on that arterial road, and the population of which was expelled] but condemn the fruit of their deeds. I condemn Bulldozer. I reject the sniper [sadistic individuals who behaved unethically]. On the contrary, if need be, I'll stand by the damned. Because I know that if it weren't for them the State of Israel would never have been born. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have been born. They did the dirty work that enables my people, myself, my daughter and my sons to live."

The same story might likewise be told across the world. It is the nation state's dirty secret. Yet no one argues for turning back the clock, at least not anywhere else but Israel (and in Israel, only for one side). No one argues for the non-natives of North America to decamp. And, if that sounds too much like a story from the murky distant past, consider Europe. Tens and tens of millions of Greeks, Turks, Germans, Hungarians, Poles, Ukrainians and others dispelled across national boundaries over the last century as these states rose. Yes, these were tragic tales, but the world marched on.

In the case of the refugees created by 1948, Shavit actually pays insufficient attention to the hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews expelled from their home country who settled in Israel, save to point out that "the number of Jewish refugees Israel absorbs surpass the number of Palestinian refugees it expels." A remarkable fact considering the vast size and wealth of the Arab world, which allowed (indeed, forced) Arab refugees to live for generations in refugee camps, even as Israel engaged in the difficult, expensive, and even dangerous process of absorption. Shavit does mention the Arab nations' complicity in creating a smoldering ever expanding population of refugees. Still, he does not consider the guilt of the broader community of nations in their creation of the world's only community specific international refugee agency, and perhaps history's only organization whose mission was to maintain and grow the size of a refugee population.

Yet while Shavit recognizes many of the painful contradictions and choices that when into Israel's founding, some he seems unable to accept even as he makes them plain to his reader. Like many, Shavit sees the Arab-Israeli conflict in terms of 1967. Despite discussing various ways to deal with the legacy of 1948, he returns time and again to 1967. Yet the story he tells forces more painful realizations. Anti-Jewish violence far predates the establishment of Israel, as he offers a too brief summation of the terror and violence committed against Jews under the British Mandate. In a trope that echoes across time, he describes how the Zionist leadership often condemns Jewish retaliatory violence even as Arab leaders lionize those who murder Jewish civilians, women, and even children.

The roots of the conflict thus go back even earlier than '48. Consider for example Shavit's interview with an Israeli-Arab lawyer, a man educated in Israeli universities, who he admires and believes could well have taken another path and been elected to the Knesset or appointed to the Israeli Supreme Court. For this educated Israeli-Arab, the idea of Jewish history in Israel is "pure fiction." Thus the Jewish state is, for him, devoid of any legitimacy. When he looks to the future he looks forward to a world where: "We [the Arabs] will be masters, and you [Jews] will be our servants." What border agreement will settle a dispute seen in this sort of cultural terms? Shavit worries over Israelis feeling "triumphant," but one must wonder where are the Arabs writers who engage in this author's deep honest introspection over the choices made by the Arab nations?

Shavit's book is not without flaws. He can be arrogant, even self-righteous. Some of his interviews seem more of an opportunity to monologue for a paragraph in the form of a question which he follows with a terse one sentence answer. Yet none of that takes away from the fundamental strength of his analysis or the deep pathos he feels for the Jewish State. He struggles with his desire for a "normal" state, even as he celebrates Israel's accomplishments and suffers for its failures. Ultimately, sympathetic, ethically questioning, and feeling no shortage of angst, Shavit's book speaks volumes of the Jewish experience in general and the Israeli experience in particular.
110 von 143 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Not annoyingly biased. 27. August 2013
Von MussSyke - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts (Was ist das?)
I have spent a long time wondering about Israel and Jewish people. For one, I am constantly dumbfounded why America supports Israel without question. Why does my mom - who thinks everyone except her particular breed of Christian is going to hell - have such high support for Israel and the Jewish people? Why is there so much discrimination against Jews all over the world, even after the holocaust? What happened in the region, and how did those seemingly white people get out there?

And although I knew the textbook answers to some of these questions, and I've certainly heard the Jordanian and Palestinian sides of the story recently, I still had so many questions. This book has been a Godsend in answering my questions, giving me some peace that I have some understanding about both sides of the story from sane people. I love that this guy can bring himself to admit to some faults by the Jews, while you can see it pains him to say so. You can almost hear the defensiveness in his voice.

I tried reading some books about Israel before, but found I didn't yet have enough understanding about its history to understand those books. This one stands by itself and really helps the reader to get a grasp on such a crazy history and complex issues. I'd recommend it for anyone having a curiosity about the region or anyone who wants to hear a fairly unbiased account of this nation.
11 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen What Caroline Glick said about this book 5. Juli 2014
Von Likudnik - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Go into any Jewish community in the United States these days and spend a few hours talking to people. At a certain point in the conversation, at least one person will bring up Ari Shavit's bestselling book, My Promised Land.

Mention of the book will arouse great enthusiasm. Invariably, a prominent member of the group will say, with utter conviction, and to the nods of all present, "I think that Shavit's book should be required reading for all American Jewish students."

The most illustrious American Jewish writers and editors today are all but unanimous in their praise for Shavit's book, which they proclaim is an "epic," account of Israel.

As Martin Kramer wrote this week in the online journal Mosaic, "the last `epic' account of [Israel's birth in] 1948 to seize the imagination of its Jewish and non-Jewish readers," as Shavit's has done was Leon Uris's Exodus, published in 1958.

Uris's book was an inspirational, historical fiction that told the story of Israel's birth. Decades of American Jewish readers were profoundly influenced by the narrative. Ask any American Jew over the age of 35 who made aliyah if he read Uris's Hollywood-style account of the Zionist revolution. The answer is almost always affirmative.

Like Exodus, Shavit's My Promised Land has been a runaway success. As Kramer noted, Shavit has been embraced by the Jewish establishment's celebrity intellectuals - sharing stages with New Yorker editor David Remnick, and Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg. He's been kvelled over by Tom Friedman and Franklin Foer from The New Republic.

Shavit got marquis billing at the AIPAC policy conference in Washington in March, and has been feted by the Jewish Federations and the most affluent synagogues in America.

Unlike Exodus, which is a fictional account of Israel's founding, Shavit insists that his narrative is the undisputed truth. As Foer put it in his blurb an on the back cover, Shavit's book is an, "epic history . . . full of moral complexity . . . mind-blowing, trustworthy insights."

Also unlike Exodus, Shavit's tale of Israel is not one of heroism, determination, faith and gumption. Rather, Israel's tale is morally ambiguous. Israel is a country born in sin and its subsequent history has been immiserated by tribalism, fanaticism, displacement, and war crimes.

On the other hand, Israel isn't all bad. Shavit still loves it with all his heart because it is a great country made up of human beings. And you should love it too. At least a little bit.

Shavit's portrayal of Israel revolves around the continuous clash between the bad and good things that Israel is and does. A central anchor of the "Bad Israel," narrative is Shavit's account of the battle of Lydda (Lod) in the 1948 War of Independence. Kramer's article, titled, "What happened at Lydda?" is a critical assessment of Shavit's account of that battle.

By Shavit's telling, the Israeli forces that conquered Lydda from the Jordanian Arab Legion and the local Arab irregulars in July 1948 massacred civilians who were hiding in a mosque. Shavit alleges that after killing the innocent, Israeli troops forced local Arabs to bury the bodies to hide their crime, and murdered the Arabs who dug the graves.

The purported massacre, according to Shavit, is what fomented the Arab flight from Lydda. Shavit judges the soldiers and commanders who participated in the operation. But he lays the blame for these alleged events on "Zionism."

"Zionism," he wrote, "carries out a massacre at Lydda."

Shavit claims his historical narrative is based on interviews he conducted in the 1990s with soldiers who participated in the battle. Shavit has not released the transcripts of those interviews.

Yet as Kramer relates, the same sources to whom Shavit attributes his story gave opposite accounts in on-record, and in many cases, on-camera interviews with other reporters and researchers.

Shavit referred to the battle of Lydda as "Israel's black box." As Kramer put it, Shavit maintains that, "in its story lies the dark secret not only of the birth of Israel but indeed of the entire Jewish national movement--of Zionism."

Through his point by point examination of Shavit's narrative, Kramer demonstrated that Shavit's account is arguably no less fictional than Uris's idealized portrayal of Israel.

Kramer found no clear evidence that a massacre was carried out at Lydda. At best, there is an argument between historians about what happened. Shavit's claim that the dead were "civilians," is not supported by historical accounts of the battle. His claim that 250 Arabs were killed in the battle is disputed.

Moreover, as Kramer demonstrates, contrary to Shavit's claim that Israeli soldiers allegedly killed Arabs out of rage and not for reason of military necessity, the documentary history of the battle contains no evidence of malice by any of the soldiers or commanders involved in the battle.

A perfectly reasonable explanation of the evidence -- and a better one than Shavit's claim of original sin -- is that the Israeli fighters fought a hard battle in an urban area under the accepted rules of war. And people died.

Whereas Shavit wrote that the Israeli forces buried the bodies of the Arab dead to hide evidence of their supposed war crime, according to the participants' firsthand accounts, the Arab dead were buried because it was hot and the bodies would have rotted if they weren't interred.

As for murdering the Arab burial detail, one of its members - who lived his whole life in Lydda (Lod) after the war -- was interviewed on record about the battle several times. He was neither killed at the time, nor did he allege that his colleagues were killed.

Kramer ends his article by calling for "the grandees of American Jewish journalism who rushed to praise Shavit's Lydda treatment," to tell their readers the truth about the at best dubious nature of Shavit's account of the battle.

Kramer is right to hold Shavit's enablers to account. But the problem is that promoters like Jeffrey Goldberg, (who presented Shavit's as "a beautiful, mesmerizing, morally serious, and vexing book," for which "I've been waiting most of my adult life") are unlikely to be called to order by their American Jewish audience.

Goldberg, Remnick, Friedman, Foer and David Brooks are not operating in a vacuum. True, they are leading voices in the American Jewish community. But their stature owes mainly to the American Jewish community's desire to listen to them. They reflect the values and preferences of the American Jewish community more than they shape them.

AIPAC didn't give Shavit the center stage at its annual conference because David Remnick featured an abridged version of his tale of the Lydda "massacre," in The New Yorker. AIPAC gave Shavit center stage because AIPAC leaders like his message of Israel's moral deficiency just as much as Remnick does.

How can this be? Shavit's most enthusiastic readers are not uninvolved Jews. They are not American Jews who have left the community. Shavit's biggest admirers are members in good standing of the American Jewish community. They belong to synagogues. They belong to AIPAC. They give to the Federation.

What is it about his dishonest moral indictment of Israel that excites them?

For generations of American Jews, Israel was perceived as "poor little Israel." As they saw things, Israel was economically backward. It was dependent on charity from the American Jewish community. And it needed organizations like AIPAC to protect and promote its interests in Washington.

There was truth behind these perceptions in Israel's early years in particular. Israel was a weak country and a poor country. American Jewish support was a critical component of Israel's economic and diplomatic viability. But in recent decades, Israel has become more and more capable of standing on its own.

Today Israel is not dependent on the charity of American Jews. It is a prosperous country with a healthy, rapidly growing and diverse economy. With Asia expected to eclipse the US as Israel's largest trading partner next year, Israel has become less dependent on the US in general than it was in the past.

Israel's economic vitality is an unwelcome development for many American Jews who cannot get their arms around Israel not needing them to save it.

And as Israel becomes more powerful, American Jews are becoming less willing to defend Israel in any meaningful way.

For the past decade, AIPAC made convincing the White House and Congress to pass sanctions against Iran its primary goal. But when President Barack Obama told AIPAC to stop lobbying for further sanctions after he signed the interim nuclear deal with Iran last November, AIPAC folded like a deck of cards. Israel and the Republicans on Capitol Hill that had pushed the legislation were left high and try.

Defending Israel to an unsympathetic president from the Democratic Party is apparently too much to ask most pro-Israel American Jews to do.

And this is where Shavit's book comes in.

By portraying Israel as a country that is morally deficient, Shavit gave the American Jewish community two gifts. First he gave them a way to feel morally superior, and therefore patronizing towards Israel. Israel, they can say, committed a massacre - and did so because its founding ideology is poisonous. American Jews would never do such a thing. But out of the kindness of their hearts, like Shavit, they will continue to love this unworthy cousin.

The second gift Shavit gave the American Jewish community was the ability to feel comfortable refusing to be inconvenienced for Israel. Clearly - given Israel's moral failings as portrayed by Shavit - American Jews should have no interest in picking up and making aliyah. But beyond that, since Israel is a morally lacking country, there is no reason for them to take a serious stand on its behalf. There is no reason for them to object to the galloping anti-Semitism on college campuses. The BDS people may be over the top, but according to Shavit, they have a point.

There is no reason for them to stand up to Obama. He is using "tough love" to make Israel free itself of sin and atone for its past crimes - like the one it committed in Lydda.

The success of Shavit's book reveals the rupture in the relationship between the American Jewish community and Israel. A generation ago, being pro-Israel meant believing in the justness and morality of Israel and being willing to be inconvenienced a little or even a lot to defend the Jewish state.

Today, being pro-Israel means that you support Israel despite its immorality because you are forgiving. And supporting Israel means you'll help Israel so long as it doesn't inconvenience you in any way or make you feel uncomfortable about anything at all.

Ari Shavit's libelous account of the birth of Israel is just playing to the crowd. It's time to start worrying about how to heal a crowd that celebrates being lied to in this way.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
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