From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up—This slender volume asks more questions than it answers, but that is its goal. Aronson wants to know why people and nations hate Israel. While exploring this question, he looks at history and how Israel came to be; he covers its wars and examines the nation today. He asks how Israel can be both a democracy and a religious state. He compares the lives and attitudes of Jews in America to Jews in Israel—both groups came to their countries from other places, yet they have different attitudes about what a homeland is. Right from the start, Aronson makes it known that he is Jewish and has relatives living in Israel. He writes that he loves the country, but could never live there. He tries to maintain objectivity, and admits his close ties make that hard, but he says that Israeli citizens question their state and are not certain of their own feelings, so he is comfortable questioning them as well. Although the author writes clearly about Israel's history and states his questions and concerns plainly, the issues he raises are complex and potentially confusing. Still, his writing is lively and he includes many interviews and personal stories. For someone who knows almost nothing about Israel, this title gives a lot of information and forces readers to think deeply about morality, bigotry, politics, and religion. It is a fascinating look at a complicated country.—Geri Diorio, The Ridgefield Library, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Aronson matches the thorny revelations of Race: A History beyond Black and White (2007) by explaining how Israel’s past and present actions/reactions have created paradoxes that trouble even the most strident of scholars. “I love Israel” is the stark statement with which Aronson begins his book, but he earns his bona fides through dissecting and interpreting the power struggles that have defined and redefined the nation. It is difficult material for most adults; teenagers will find it similarly challenging, but the rewards awaiting careful readers are many: with the assistance of personal anecdotes, Aronson unlocks the puzzles of Israel’s political and military catch-22’s by drawing parallels to American history, including the conquering of the Indians, the Mexican War, and the freeing of slaves. For teens, the most vivid and valuable lessons may be in seeing the Holocaust from a Zionist point of view and gaining an appreciation for the “long-distance marriage” of Israel and America. Straightforward chapter and section titles such as “Why Did the Palestinians Lose Their Land?” and “How Can Americans Help Israel?” and back matter heavy with Web sites will help direct researchers to the information they need. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus