quinta-feira, junho 11, 2015

My Promised Land, by Ari Shavit

I liked this book, I think it's a very good book about Israel, its history and the problems it has faced through its few decades of existence and the challenges it faces today. Sometimes I thought it too guilt-ridden, almost a jeremiad, but all in all I found it quite balanced; one can see the author loves his country and tries to discuss openly its existential problems.

A few excerpts I found particularly relevant:

On the one hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is occupying another people. On the other hand, Israel is the only nation in the West that is existentially threatened. Both occupation and intimidation make the Israeli condition unique. Intimidation and occupation have become the two pillars of our condition. Most observers and analysts deny this duality. The ones on the left address occupation and overlook intimidation, while the ones on the right address intimidation and dismiss occupation.

...I worked out a theory of the Israeli Left: its fundamental flaw is that it had never distinguished between the issue of occupation and the issue of peace. Regarding the occupation, the Left was absolutely right. It realized the occupation was a moral, demographic, and political disaster. But regarding peace, the Left was somewhat naïve. It counted on a peace partner that was not really there. It assumed that because peace was needed, peace was feasible.

During these years, the percentage of school-aged children attending ultra-Orthodox schools has risen from 4 percent to nearly 20 percent. The percentage of school-aged children attending Arab schools has risen from 20 percent to 28 percent. So today, 48 percent of all school-aged children are enrolled in either ultra-Orthodox or Arab schools. An additional 14 percent are modern Orthodox. Only 38 percent are secular. That means that by 2030, Israel's shrinking secular Jewish majority will become a minority. Israel's cultural identity will change, and so will its socio-economic profile. Secular Israelis are the ones working, producing, and paying taxes. [...] Meanwhile, successive dysfunctional Israeli governments are doing the very opposite: they reward the non-working minorities and subsidize them and do not require them to take up modern and democratic education. [...] Fewer and fewer Israelis work more and more to feed nonworking Israelis. A flawed political system guarantees the special interests of the ultra-Orthodox, the settlers, and the megarich.

Well, it's not all pessimism or gloom and doom. But it is very informative and I think it depicts the major issues in an honest way. A good read.

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