From an award-winning journalist, a perceptive study of how Israel’s actions, which run counter to the traditional historical values of Judaism, are putting Jewish people worldwide in an increasingly untenable position.
More than a decade ago, the historian Tony Judt considered whether the behavior of Israel was becoming not only “bad for Israel itself” but also, on a wider scale, “bad for the Jews.” Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, this issue has grown ever more urgent. In The State of Israel vs. the Jews, veteran journalist Sylvain Cypel addresses it in depth, exploring Israel’s rightward shift on the international scene and with regard to the diaspora.
Cypel reviews the little-known details of the military occupation of Palestinian territory, the mindset of ethnic superiority that reigns throughout an Israeli “colonial camp” that is largely in the majority, and the adoption of new laws, the most serious of which establishes two-tier citizenship between Jews and non-Jews. He shows how Israel has aligned itself with authoritarian regimes and adopted the practices of a security state, including the use of technologies such as the software that enabled the tracking and, ultimately, the assassination of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Lastly, The State of Israel vs. the Jews examines the impact of Israel’s evolution in recent years on the two main communities of the Jewish diaspora, in France and the United States, considering how and why public figures in each differ in their approaches.
Journalist and self-described anti-Zionist Cypel (Walled: Israeli Society at an Impasse) delivers an impassioned if one-sided critique of Israel's "rightward drift" since the 1967 Six-Day War that resulted in the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Cypel details acts of violence committed against Palestinians by Israeli soldiers and civilians, describes the discriminatory treatment of non-Jewish citizens by the Israeli government, and notes that technologies developed by Israeli cybersurveillance firms were used by Saudi Arabia to track journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he was assassinated in 2018. Cypel argues that these and other "appalling" actions by modern-day Israel ("a racist, bullying little superpower") conflict with the tenets of Judaism and have led "to a widening political and cultural gap between Israeli and American Jewish life." But he barely mentions previous attempts by the Israeli government to trade land for peace, and downplays anti-Israeli rhetoric and actions by Iran and other countries in the Middle East. Readers looking for a more balanced and incisive treatment of this subject would be better served by Daniel Gordis's We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel.