Three Views on Israel/Palestine: A Convenient Hatred, Our Harsh Logic, and Wrestling in the Daylight
Our Harsh Logic: Israeli Soldiers’ Testimonies from the Occupied Territories 2000-2010
Compiled by Breaking the Silence
Metropolitan Books, 2012
Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity
Just World Books, 2012
Just as it would be impossible to understand the rage of some Muslims toward the West without knowing the history of the Crusades and the colonial ventures of Western powers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it would be impossible to understand many Jews’ self-destructive inability to trust non-Jews in the post-Holocaust era without factoring in the morally atrocious history of anti-Semitism. Phyllis Goldstein’s book is a bit sketchy on the psychological and economic roots of anti-Semitism, thereby seeming to ontologize it as a mysterious force that will always be present, but it offers an important sense of how anti-Semitism has structured Western life for centuries.
Unfortunately, many apologists are now misusing the cry of “anti-Semitism” to justify Israeli policies; they don’t understand how Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and its efforts to drag the U.S. into war with Iran provoke more hatred of Israel and, by extension, the Jews worldwide who support it. It is never right to extend anger to all members of an ethnic, racial, or religious group for the obnoxious behavior of some of its members—doing so is the quintessence of racism. Yet the testimonies of Israeli soldiers presented by the Israeli organization “Breaking the Silence” might give even the most morally blind supporter of the Likud government an understanding of why people around the world are increasingly directing their anger toward Israel. Our Harsh Logic also profiles many morally sensitive Jews who refused to accept the IDF’s disrespectful and oppressive treatment of Arabs as legitimate—it’s a book that needs to be read by both Zionists and the haters of Zionism and will make many Jews proud of our Israeli dissenters!
Moral sensitivity is also a main theme in Wrestling in the Daylight, a compilation of the emails that Rabbi Brant Rosen received from congregants, American Jews, and Israelis as he slowly developed an understanding of the injustice of the Occupation, along with Rosen’s reflections on those exchanges. Like Our Harsh Logic, Rosen’s book reveals a capacity to transcend the unthinking nationalism that permeates many contemporary synagogues. It also shows why anti-Semitism must be fought with the same energy with which we fight Israel’s self-destructive and immoral policies.