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Toward an Open Tomb: The Crisis of Israeli Society [Paperback]

Michel Warschawski
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1, 2004 1583671099 978-1583671092 1st ed

Since the breakdown of the Oslo peace process in 2000 and the beginning of the second Intifada, conflict has escalated in Israel/Palestine and come to seem irreversible. The overwhelming power of the Israeli military has been unleashed against a largely defenseless population in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza, driving Palestinians to despair and to desperate measures of retaliation. The author of this book, Michel Warschawski, has for many decades been active in building alliances of Jews and Palestinians to oppose the Israeli occupation. In this book, however, he focuses especially on the effects of the occupation on the occupiers—that is, on Israeli society—rather than its victims.

Warschawski describes the atrocities of the occupation—from the sack of Ramallah to the massacre in Jenin, the razing of houses and refugee camps, shooting at ambulances and hospitals, the use of Palestinian civilians as human shields—showing how each of these pushes back the boundaries of what was previously thinkable. He documents the resulting shifts in Israeli political thought, citing Ariel Sharon, army officers and even rabbis who begin by describing Palestinians as Nazis and end by relying on the German army's tactics for subjugating the Warsaw ghetto. Toward an Open Tomb seeks to explain the forces within Israeli society and culture that are leading to this self-defeating result.

Warschawski has the keen eye of an Israeli insider. He develops a powerful critique of Israeli policies with a persuasive power drawn from his own Jewish origins and his deepening devotion to Jewish traditions.

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michel Warschawski is director of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem and a well-known anti-Zionist activist. His books include Israel-Palestine: le défi binational and an award-winning memoir, Sur la frontière.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press; 1st ed edition (July 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583671099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583671092
  • Product Dimensions: 0.4 x 5.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,101,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharp and Insightful April 21, 2005
Michel Warschawski has really achieved something with this book, I think. A harsh critique of Israeli society, the book manages to pack a lot into a small number of pages. Furthermore, Warschawski manages to mix up the format very effectively, giving the book a very alive feeling. In addition, despite certain flaws, Warschawski's thesis -- that the assassination of Rabin was a turning point in which the Israeli left refused to confront the extreme right, priveleging "national unity" over peace and progress -- is compelling. I can easily say that this book had an impact on me that few others have.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warschawski explains Israel's national psychosis July 24, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is as frightening as it is clarifying. It seems that the government of Israel has gone mad and that it has infected the citizenry and the entire social and civic fabric of Israeli society. With no respect for law, with no recognition of rights, with pathological hatred of non-Jews and paranoia that is all-encompassing, the state of Israel is heading for a bottomless pit.

The recent barbaric invasion and destruction of Lebanon, a sovereign nation, is the work of people who have lost control and are working strictly on "lizard brain" impulses. Anyone can see that this deliberate destruction of a nation's infrastructure and the slaughter of its people is not "self defense" but the crazed lashing out of a wild beast with its back to the wall. The trouble is that Israel has created this situation by treating the Palestinians and other Arab peoples in the region like subhumans while stealing their land and water. Israel cannot exist, it believes, unless there is constant war against its immediate neighbors.

Warschawski makes the history and current events very clear, indeed.
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4 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard core demonization March 5, 2005
Michael Warschawski claims that some Israelis actually see the present Arab cult of dying to kill Jews as similar to the German National Socialist cult of the 1930s and 1940s. Well, he's right. Some Israelis do see some similarities. And so do I.

Of course, the author implies that it is evil to think such thoughts. He's entitled to his opinion. If he wants, he can say that "racism and violence have always been in Israeli culture." Matter of fact, he wrote exactly that. That's a very misleading thing to write, but it seems that people can say anything, and this book proves it.

The author says that the symbol of Israel is the bulldozer. Not to me. I might pick some nice, drip-irrigated fields. And he does discuss the use of a National Socialist "vocabulary," not by the Arab terrorists, but by the Israelis.

Still, if the Israelis are not good enough for him, who is? Surely nations in general are, on the average, worse than Israel. What solution does that imply? I think it would have been fair for him to explain that we humans have made a huge number of species extinct, but that only one more species has to go to end the slaughter. That would have put his views into perspective.
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