On Political Books

November/ December 2011 They Shall Reap the Whirlwind

How religious zealots in the Israeli government are supporting a new generation of extremist settlers who hate the Israeli government.

By Joshua Hammer

Gorenberg trots out the usual prescriptions for Israeli-Palestinian peace. He views the one-state solution as untenable, certain to result in a “nightmare” in which Arabs and Jews “do battle while the most educated or well-connected members of each group look for refuge elsewhere.” And he sees no other recourse for Israel but a two-state solution, with a handful of Palestinian refugees returning to their pre-1948 homes, and a full withdrawal to pre-1967 borders with the exception of East Jerusalem and a handful of settlements, such as Maale Adumim, that were built on land contiguous with Israel. Gorenberg insists, however, that domestic groundwork needs to be laid—the dismantling of the hesder yeshivas; the ending of state subsidies for pre-army Orthodox academies; the dissolving of Netzah Yehuda, an ultra-Orthodox IDF battalion—before the settlements can vanish and “[t]he hallucinatory expectations that have warped Orthodox Zionism may begin to fade.” Given the intransigence of the current Israeli government, and the rightward drift of Israeli’s citizenry, the transition process is not likely to begin any time in the near future. But Gorenberg argues convincingly that the longer Israel waits, the more it risks the civil war that David Ben-Gurion feared might happen sixty-three years ago.


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Joshua Hammer is a freelance foreign corespondent based in Berlin, now working on a book about German colonialism in Africa.

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