Friday, April 24, 2009

Why Israel?

Yesterday evening I went to a book launch of Daniel Gordis' new book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End.The book is brand new, and as regular readers will know, I'm a wee bit behind on my reading, so I haven't read it yet. Danny's lecture, however, was interesting. He started by saying we should talk about why Israel needs to be here and what the Jews are supposed to do with it; then he said that most of the things we need to achieve don't need to wait for peace, so we really should stop waiting and do them. Apparently the book is his list of goals.

Had he intended this to be an internal Israeli discussion, he'd have written the book in Hebrew, and I'll bet he'd have written a different book. In writing in English, it seems to me, his real discussion is what Israel can and should be for the Jewish people. Though he didn't come out and say this last night, I got the impression he's addressing what he percieves as a widening gap between Israelis - who have zillions of fervently-held opinions about those questions - and American Jews, who are feeling estranged by us rambunctious cousins.

Which might mean the book isn't really about Israel at all, but rather about the Jews outside and how they look in, or don't look in, or should be looking in. Unless the book is very different from how its author presented it - the only way to know is to read it.

1 comment:

YMedad said...

Note that all Benny Morris' books were published first in English and the books of Tom Segev also came out in English at the same time as the Hebrew editions. Now, if Daniel didn't arrange a Hebrew publisher then you are completely right. Shmuel Katz wrote in English but had Aharon Amir translate chapter by chapter so it would be ready in two langauges at the same time.