How It Broke. How To Fix It.


Gershom Gorenberg

I’m pleased to announce that my new book, The Unmaking of Israelon the crisis of Israeli democracy and how to solve it — will be published in November by HarperCollins. I’ll be coming to North America for a lecture tour at that time. The book is now available for pre-order at all the usual places.

The Unmaking of Israel (How It Broke. How to Fix It.)

The Unmaking of Israel is both a journey through unexplored parts of Israel’s history and an argument for a liberal vision of its future. In it, I describe how Israel’s parliamentary democracy and activist judiciary indeed made it unique among the countries born in the post-colonial era.

But by keeping and settling territory it conquered in 1967, Israel has crippled its democracy and the rule of law. The ties between state, settlement and synagogue have promoted religious extremism and distorted Judaism.

To rebuild itself, I argue, Israel must end the occupation, separate state from religion, and create a new civil identity that can be shared by its Jewish and Arab citizens. Reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians is not only an essential end in itself, but a means to ensuring that Israel expresses basic Jewish values.

Based on previously unpublished documents and years of on-the-ground reporting, The Unmaking of Israel presents:

  • Evidence that on the eve of Israel’s independence, its leaders were not planning the “ethnic cleansing” of Palestinians, but rather planned on them staying put and becoming part of the new state.
  • The decisions by Israel’s secular founders that  created today’s ultra-Orthodoxy, with its large families, non-working men, and dependency on state funds.
  • The story of how Israeli governments annexed West Bank settlements in all but name.
  • The money trail connecting the government to settlement outposts and to the religious academies of the radical right.
  • The argument for a two-state solution as the necessary condition for creating a more liberal Second Republic in Israel.

The Unmaking of Israel can be pre-ordered now at Amazon, Barnes and Nobles and other online bookstores. Organizations interested in hosting lectures in November can contact me directly. Publications interested in review copies should contact Beth Harper at HarperCollins.

6 thoughts on “How It Broke. How To Fix It.”

  1. We can not afford the indulgence of despair.

    There is no global We. When We’s are transitive, there is a fortress. When not, We’s break boundaries. I strive to be in a We of this last.


  2. “End the occupation” is a proposal I support, but as the PM told Congress last week, there are now 650,000 settlers. Some say they would resist dismantling with force. I’m betting you deal with this in the book, but the blog post above does allow readers to conclude that dismantlement can proceed with a mere snap of the fingers.

    Possibly a propos:

    “Like the Golem of Prague, the occupation has assumed a life of its own and can no longer be controlled by its originator, the democratic State of Israel.”

    Horit and Yoav Peled review of Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir’s book, This Regime which is Not One: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and the River (1967-), published in Hebrew in Tel Aviv, 2008. New Left Review 2011 (They add detail, but the Golem image is what I want to emphasize here.)


  3. No, Dan, I think it too late for dismantlement. I have encountered no evidence that the Israeli polity, or its Knesset representives, would order such. But I do not live in Israel. So I hope those that cannot afford to despair find a way, a path I do not know, perhaps to a destination I do not know.

    I do think, though, that transitive we’s–my we is your we or leave–is a primal human trait. A trait that has done many quite well, even an engine of civilization at times. The Israeli/Palestinian conflict forces us to see our evolution and its costs–or, perhaps, for good feeling, to stand dozens of times and clap for the certainity of our success.

    I have not wanted to be a we a good long while.

  4. Dear Gershon, I’m reading _The Unmaking_ right now and I think it’s an excellent book. You don’t really have to convince me about the argument, but the factual information is very rich and valuable. My question: I wonder if the book has been or will be translated to other languages. My sister reads Spanish and Italian (and some Hebrew), I’d love her to read it.
    And thank you for the great service you do to decent Jews who don’t condone with the criminal behaviour of some Jews who claim to represent all of us.

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