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The Unmaking of Israel

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  127 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
In this penetrating and provocative look at the state of contemporary Israel, acclaimed Israeli historian and journalist Gershom Gorenberg reveals how the nation’s policies are undermining its democracy and existence as a Jewish state, and explains what must be done to bring it back from the brink. Refuting shrilldefenses of Israel and equally strident attacks, Gorenberg s ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Harper
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Community Reviews

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Jan 18, 2014 Holly added it
Shelves: 2012-reads
"For Israel to establish itself again as a liberal democracy, it must make three changes. First, it must end the settlement enterprise, end the occupation, and find a peaceful way to partition the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. Second, it must divorce state and synagogue -- freeing the state from clericalism, and religion from the state. Third and most basically, it must graduate from being an ethnic movement to being a democratic state in which all citizens enjoy equality."
Karen Mead
Very informative book about modern Israeli politics, and how they got that way. However, I think Gorenberg sometimes chooses to ignore facts he doesn't like. For example, one of his main points is that Israeli settlement in the occupied territories is both morally and legally wrong and is destroying Israel's legitimacy, but neglects to mention the fact that Israel couldn't give said territories back when they wanted to, since the Arab countries refused to negotiate. While I'm not sure how I feel ...more
Jul 31, 2014 Aleks rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this right now while Gaza is burning and the stakes for further negligent drift are bright in all minds. Gorenberg, an American born Jew who made Aliyah to Israel, explains the rise of the illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian land, the entanglement of synagogue with state and military, and the corruption of Judaism and Zionist principles that have been the initially unintended but by no means accidental consequences of Israel's astonishing victory in the 1967 Six Days ...more
Mar 31, 2012 Jennifer rated it liked it
Consideration for the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism
Sarah Bringhurst
Apr 27, 2012 Sarah Bringhurst rated it really liked it
This is a valuable book for anyone seeking deeper insight into what makes Israel tick. The author, an Israeli by choice who immigrated there from the U.S. at the age of thirty, gives us a well-researched and cogent explanation of how Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians and Occupied Territories developed. Even more valuable, he helps the reader understand how this crucial and contentious issue overshadows and shapes internal policy, leading to unintended and disastrous consequences in many ...more
Aug 08, 2012 Channing rated it it was amazing
I've had a strong interest in Israel since my childhood. Now that I've married into a Jewish family and I have friends and family members who live in Israel, the issues facing Israel and its people have taken on a heightened and much more personal sense of importance to me.

I can't remember for sure how I first heard about Gershom Gorenberg. It may have been from a radio interview or it may have been from my dad (who is also a big fan of his). Since then, I've taken to reading his blog posts reg
Marcel Kremnitzer
Aug 09, 2014 Marcel Kremnitzer rated it it was amazing
Israel passou por transformações ao longo de sua história. Atualmente, ainda está mudando. Nós, judeus, não gostamos de saber - ou admitir - que essas mudanças foram, às vezes, profundamente negativas. Esse livro aponta os graves problemas para um Estado de Israel judeu e democrático. A parte objetiva, que me anima a recomendá-lo enfaticamente a outros leitores, é que Gershom indica o caminho que Israel deve seguir para corrigir sua rota. Uma obra necessária e reflexiva.
Mar 22, 2015 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Partisan but informative. I now know more about settlement culture and am just as mad about it as I was going into this book. A good starter book but leaves you wanting more.
Andy Oram
Oct 04, 2013 Andy Oram rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
Gorenberg has achieved a remarkable journalistic goal: he describes very shocking ideas and activities while showing the logic behind all sides and keeping the humanity of all participants in mind. Although many of the government and settler activities he describes are outrageous, and he let's us know his own outrage, he also lets his opponents speak and helps us to show why they think and act as they do. The history and political analysis leads up to the final chapter, which requires the backgr ...more
Paul Danahar
Aug 24, 2014 Paul Danahar rated it really liked it
Good interesting read.
Feb 28, 2014 Sally rated it it was amazing
Well written, well thought-out, clear and concise. I especially agreed with his views on (1) the importance of rule of law to maintaining a legitimate state and (2) the vital role of liberal arts education in a democracy.
Jan 19, 2013 Tobias rated it it was amazing
A truly superb, well-researched account of how colonization and the settler movement have gravely undermined Israeli democracy. He calls for an end to occupation for Israel's own good and considers how a two-state solution can promote individual rights on both sides of the Green Line, while still preserving Israel's identity as a Jewish state. He has no illusions about the difficulty of realizing his vision, but it is a vision worth considering.
Oct 03, 2012 Sean rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
A very thorough analysis of the weak points in the foundation of Israeli democracy from an author who loves his country. If the people of Israel can bring their state to enact the reforms advised by Gorenberg, I may see peace in the Middle East in my lifetime. He's hopeful, but does little to leave the reader the impression that there's a real chance to overcome the massive obstacles. Hard to see anything but further tragedy ahead.
Jeremy Tibbetts
Oct 27, 2013 Jeremy Tibbetts rated it liked it
An interesting read. Gershom Gorenberg gives a very good account of Israel up until 1967. I extensively checked his citations, and found that at the points when he most needed citations there were none. The height of his arguments often fell to conjecture or speculation. It is certainly an interesting opinion, but the use of the index is important when reading it.
Nov 15, 2011 Jon rated it really liked it
Very solid book about the state of Israel. 220 pages of lament about the pathologies of Israel -- the growing Orthodoxy among the settlers, the government that fails to follow its own laws, the pyramid scheme of the haredi movement -- and 28 pages spelling out some sort of hope (if not pie-in-the-sky). I'd love to read an answer to this book from the "objective right."
The American Conservative
'This exceptional man has written a book, The Unmaking of Israel, about that exceptional state and its protracted and deepening crisis. And it is, appropriately enough, an exceptional contribution to the genre.'

Read the full review, "Is Israel a Failed State?" on our website:
David Walko
Mar 05, 2013 David Walko rated it really liked it
Very interesting critique of Israel. I learned much about the problems facing Israeli society today. The last chapter of the book offers solutions to the problems Gorenberg describes, and I believe he has the right of it.

The book is very easy read, I would suggest it to anyone who studies the region or conflict.
Aug 08, 2012 Len rated it really liked it
The better of the two books by Gorenberg. Lays out the dilemma Israel has placed themselves in by hanging on to the West Bank and Gaza. Also describes the internal challenges Israel faces because of its dual identity as a secular and Jewish state.
Brent Robins
Aug 07, 2013 Brent Robins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely well researched and well presented. Almost essential reading for any Jew (or non-Jew) who wants to have a good understanding about the challenges that Israel faces today, how it got to this point, and what to do about it.
Chez Patrice
Jan 18, 2012 Chez Patrice rated it it was amazing
I wish every presidential candidate would read this book. It shows exactly why we should not have Israel setting America's foreign policy for us as it has for the last dozen years.
Feb 03, 2014 Genevieve rated it really liked it
Really insightful. The book showed me a hidden side of Israel that I never knew existed.
Jakey Gee
Mar 17, 2013 Jakey Gee rated it really liked it
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