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The Unmaking of Israel

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  94 ratings  ·  21 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
Unknown Binding, 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."
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
Consideration for the Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism
Sarah Bringhurst
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
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...more
Marcel Kremnitzer
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.
Andy Oram
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
Good interesting read.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Really insightful. The book showed me a hidden side of Israel that I never knew existed.
Jakey Gee
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