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Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End Hardcover – March 1, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0471789628 ISBN-10: 0471789623 Edition: 1st

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Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End + Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel's Soul (Jewish Encounters)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471789623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471789628
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,112 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Few books can combine the sweep of Israel's complex and extraordinary history with personal insight and passion. Saving Israel accomplishes this and more, it educates and inspires it readers while furnishing them with well-grounded hope for the future. Daniel Gordis has written an essential text for students, scholars, journalists--anyone concerned with the survival of the Jewish State.
--Michael Oren, Bestselling author of Six Days of War and Power, Faith and Fantasy: American in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present

Daniel Gordis's morally powerful Saving Israel, from a writer whose reflections are consistently as intellectually impressive as they are moving, engages in an acutely necessary argument: that sovereignty has significantly changed the Jewish condition by influencing how we think. Gordis addresses the exigencies of our time with the urgency they overridingly demand, and with the depth of feeling they inspire.
--Cynthia Ozick

Daniel Gordis' Saving Israel is an important book. Bold in his willingness to be forthright and politically incorrect, Gordis sets forth propositions which are difficult for many to accept, such as the fact that Israel's existence is more important than peace and that Israel can never be a copy of the American style liberal democracy. For, as he notes, what is at stake is not merely a state, but the only Jewish State in 2000 years, and the very future of the Jews worldwide, including those who do not live in that State. Hopefully, Saving Israel will inspire constructive discussion and analysis of core issues that Israelis, Jews everywhere, (and the entire West) have studiously avoided for far too long.
--Natan Sharansky, Former Soviet dissident and Israeli Cabinet Minister; author of Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy

Daniel Gordis has written a book about the future of Israel that is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. His has consistently been, these past few years, one of the most engaging voices to have emerged from this time of trial for the Jewish state, and it is impossible not to be moved by his plea for hope in the land whose very existence should be a living symbol of hope.
--Sir Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth

One of Israel’s most thoughtful observers – An American who made Israel his home, despite its imperfections and dangers.
--Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel

From the Inside Flap

Israel is beset from all sides. In the international community, it is the only country whose right to exists is still debated. Closer to home, many Arab leaders continue to call for its destruction. Inside its borders, Israel’s own Arab population grows ever more hostile. And now, countless Jews within Israel and around the world have begun to lose faith in the very idea of a Jewish state. Can Israel weather these challenges?

In Saving Israel, Daniel Gordis offers a new defense of the Jewish state, asking first why Israel is necessary, and then discussing what Israel has to do in order to survive its enemies. Gordis begins with a novel discussion of Israel’s purpose, reflecting on the overlooked ways in which Israel has changed the existential condition of Jews everywhere. In the process, he grapples with controversial questions about Israel, Israeli Arabs, Muslims, and the International community that many Israelis and American Jews are loath to confront. Gordis lays to rest an array of pernicious myths about Israel:

  • Jews in the United States could thrive without Israel
  • Israeli Arabs just want equality, and Palestinians simply want their own state
  • Peace will come, if Israel is willing to make appropriate territorial compromises
  • Fighting and winning wars is antithetical to Judaism

Gordis suggestions for what Israel must do to survive, and more importantly, for how it must think if it is to have a future, are sure to arouse debate and even controversy. For Gordis’s book is a passionate reminder of Israel’s purpose, a celebration of what Israel has already accomplished, a renewal of faith in the cause, and a bold guide for carrying on the struggle. Saving Israel is a full-throated call to arms. Never has the case for defending the existence of Israel been made with such confidence, passion, and clarity.

Customer Reviews

Without apology, the author speaks of the reality that exists in Israel today in a way that few dare.
A. Arnovitz
As is typical of all of Daniel Gordis' works, it contains the lyrical beauty that is so unique to his writing.
R. Lent
This is a book written out of deep love and understanding of the history of the Jewish people and Israel.
Shalom Freedman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

94 of 103 people found the following review helpful By A. Arnovitz on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My first thought as I was swept through page after page of this intense and chilling book was that it should be required reading for every Jew, every Israeli, every person who cares even the slightest about Middle Eastern politics. This book should be part of the compulsory curriculum for Jewish high school seniors both in America and in Israel. And it wouldn't hurt if a few key members of the State Department and Obama's foreign policy team read it as well. This book needs to be translated into Hebrew at the first possible moment because Israelis, more than anyone, need to confront the cold, hard truths that Daniel Gordis so eloquently lays out. Without apology, the author speaks of the reality that exists in Israel today in a way that few dare. The fact that he lives in Israel, is an insider, makes his premise all the more compelling. The suspicion that peace may be unattainable for many years to come, and the soul searching that is required of this lonely little democracy in order to confront that lack of peace, is much of what the book is about. The questions of what we are passing along to future generations, and the ability of these generations to be able to articulate why Israel deserves to exist, were the most thought-provoking chapters in the book. I think we are going to need to read and re-read this book over and over again in the coming years.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By J.Kalman on March 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Saving Israel by Daniel Gordis is a profound book which should be read by anyone who is concerned about the future of Israel. The main thrust of his argument is that in order to survive and function as a 'Homeland for the Jewish people' Israel must strengthen its own sense of purpose as a Jewish State. In the face of constant criticism from the world community, many of whom question the country's right to exist, it is vital that Israelis and the Jewish Diaspora understand that their country cannot be exactly like any other; it is a unique country with unique accomplishments and problems. It cannot simply be a "mini America".

Daniel Gordis offers a cogent analysis of the stalemate of the peace process and takes issue with the widely held view of many Jews today that somehow the 'default' Jewish position is a passive, non-military one. He argues that "When peace is not achievable, when enemies still seek to destroy the Jewish state and thereby to destroy the Jewish people, there is, sadly, no choice but to wage war". He doesn't advocate war as a strategy, but if the alternative is national suicide, it is both correct and inevitable. This will no doubt grate with the growing conventional western wisdom that all wars are essentially bad things (which sadly equates both the aggressor and the victim on the same subjective scale without acknowledging that there is an objective 'right and wrong') but given the inability of the UN to act to protect the legitimate interests of Israel and its population and the downright hostility of various nations to the State of Israel it is clear that an existential threat still exists to its existence. If this is the case it is only common sense to acknowledge the problem and prepare to deal with it. If unpopularity is the price to pay, so be it.
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47 of 51 people found the following review helpful By MSB on March 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written and incredibly insightful, Gordis makes a very compelling case for Israel as an ethnic democracy in need of a stronger sense of purpose. It is not a "mini America", but a homeland for the Jewish people. Unlike any other ethnic group, Israel has been consistently singled out as a convenient scapecoat for all the world's ills and held to a higher standard than any other country. At long last the Jewish people have a homeland, and it must be kept secure, guided by its own moral compass and the realities of Middle East politics and fanaticism. I trust his book will have wide positive impact, both within Israel and the world of principled diplomacy.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on March 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Daniel Gordis, an American immigrant to Israel who has come to feel the pulse of the nation and its critics through his life in the country and among the Diaspora presents a seminal and impassioned defense of the country calling for a renewal of hope in its meaning. Over the years other books such as The Case for Israel and Right to Exist: A Moral Defense of Israel's Wars have attempted to fill this role. Others have examined military solutions to Israel's situation, such as Defending Israel: A Strategic Plan for Peace and Security and the need for national renewal (Defending Identity: Its Indispensable Role in Protecting Democracy.

But Gordis goes one step further, blending analysis of the country's intellectual enemies, such as Tony Judt and Avraham Burg, and its internal and external threats. But the diagnosis that is most important is the explanation for national renewal in Israel and among Jews in the mission of Israel. The problem is that Israeli's are forgetting the dream of Zionism, not realizing that the danger to Israel is not 'merely' the loss of the West Bank, which many Israelis rarely visit anyway, but the loss of the country entirely. The threat is not just Iran but is psychological and emotion, both internal and external.

Gordis' starting point is the Six Day War and the seeming might of Israel at the time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Dr. Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President and Koret Distinguished Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. The author of numerous books on Jewish thought and currents in Israel, Dr. Gordis was the founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism, the first rabbinical college on the West Coast of the United States. Dr. Gordis joined Shalem in 2007 to help found Israel's first liberal arts college, after spending nine years as vice president of the Mandel Foundation in Israel and director of its Leadership Institute.

Since moving to Israel in 1998, Dr. Gordis has written and lectured throughout the world on Israeli society and the challenges facing the Jewish state. His writing has appeared in magazines and newspapers including the New York Times, the New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, Moment, Tikkun, and Conservative Judaism. His book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish State Can Win a Way That May Never End, received the 2009 National Jewish Book Award.

Gordis' newest book, The Promise of Israel: Why Its Seemingly Greatest Weakness is Actually its Greatest Strength, was published by Wiley in August 2012. He is now writing a biography of Menachem Begin for the prestigious Nextbook series, which will appear in Spring 2014.

Dr. Gordis received his B.A. from Columbia College (Magna Cum Laude), a Masters Degree and Rabbinic Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.

He blogs at

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