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Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion - A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict Paperback – November 9, 2010

4.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Definitely Worth the Read! A Book of Startling Depth and Impact. This is without question an important book. It is both a fascinating account of one man s journey from ignorance and fear to knowledge and compassion, as well as a meticulous documentation of the principle facts of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is very well written and carries the reader along effortlessly (if not frighteningly so as the book proceeds into the darker realms of Israel s policies in the Occupied Territories). I am not sure how this book will affect the reader who is a staunch supporter of Israel. From my experience, such people are usually immune to taking a hard look at what Israel is doing. However, if any book can persuade them, then I think this book has the best chance. Because Forer never writes academically, but always brings the discussion back to himself and what he underwent and the blind spots he had before his transformation, the narrative helps the reader to also begin to look and feel the real dimensions of the conflict both the external historical conflict, and the internal personal conflict. There is one part of this book that deserves further comment because it is totally unique. It appears that when Forer made a commitment to discover the truth of the Israel-Palestine conflict, his actual intention was rather modest. He embarked on a research project into the real documentation of the history of the conflict. He simply got some of the better books on the conflict, sat down and read them and meticulously checked their sources and general veracity. Such research was not a small task, but, nevertheless, not dissimilar to what others have done. Essentially, he was after the truth with a small t. But what happened to him was something quite extraordinary. Because the information he was discovering was so contrary to what he had held true and so challenged his identity, which was locked with Israel, he underwent a crisis in consciousness that undermined completely the limitations of his presumed identity, so that he awoke to what he is in Truth. The transformation that Forer talks about is a spiritual one. He discovered Truth with a capital T. There exist other accounts of somewhat similar crises of identity that ended with a spiritual breakthrough; however, I am not aware of any that have occurred in the context of what began as a political issue, or, more precisely, the search for truth in a political context. Thus, I think this book adds to the history of man s spiritual evolution. Forer treads lightly when he discusses the ultimate implications of what he underwent. Indeed, the chapter where he explores the subject is in an addendum at the end of the book. Perhaps he felt that the average reader would not have much familiarity with or sympathy for the spiritual dimensions of his transformation. That chapter should not be missed, however. It is short but remarkably cogent, and sheds considerable light on the real journey to humanity that awaits every one of us. It is a beautiful vision of life lived in Truth and full of compassion. --Tony Sandford, Legal Consultant and Publisher

Ever wonder what goes on inside the head of a Zionist? Anyone who is concerned about the Palestine-Israel conflict, about the Middle East, who has heard about the influence of the Zionist lobby on US politics, has probably wondered why so many people support Israel unconditionally. And if the way to achieve peace in the Middle East is to convince people who think Israel can do no wrong to take a hard look at the facts, to convince them to learn what happened during the bloody formation of Israel, to make them see what is still happening to the Palestinian people today, you might want to know what makes a Zionist tick. Richard Forer is one of those people who is very reflective, very self analytical. In telling the story of how he himself went from being a die hard supporter of Israel, from someone raised in a Reform Jewish household who saw Israel as that plucky little democracy trying to provide a secure home for the long-beleaguered Jews, to someone who now supports the Palestinians in their struggle for justice, he provides us with an inside look into the mind of a Zionist -- his own -- and how being confronted with the more grim reality changed his mind. Forer may have had in mind as one of his main audiences Jews like himself, or rather, like he was, whose uncritical loyalty to Israel has come to be a liability for Israel, since the rest of the world is slowly but surely learning the truth about Israel. But the book goes beyond that. As someone who has followed the Palestinian struggle myself for several years now, I have come across many stories of the different tragedies that happened to the Palestinians, the massacres, the dispossessions, the theft of water resources, the home demolitions, and the different propaganda techniques Israel and its supporters use to cover up Israel's actions, to divert attention, to delay the peace process while more Israeli settlements are built and more land is confiscated. In Forer's book I have found a concise and inclusive account of all it. In describing the succession of injustices done to the Palestinians, he provides a comprehensive history of the formation of Israel, and a vivid description of the Palestinians plight up to the current moment. It's all here in one place. In laying out this story, in explaining the deep, emotionally rooted motivations behind Zionism, in explaining how Israeli propaganda works, Forer actually points the way toward a resolution. But as part of that resolution, Zionism and its myths must be confronted, and here are the all facts you'd need to counter any Zionist's argument. It's the best argument against Zionism I have ever read. --Frank Conway, Bubba Muntzer Blog

It is difficult to overestimate the emotional attachment of American Jews to the State of Israel, Anna Baltzer writes in her Forward. Zionism, in the words of Baby Boomers like Jewish psychologist and author Mark Braverman, has been mother s milk to Jews in the United States and around the world. Unconditional support for Israel is not so much an intellectual choice as a deeply rooted component of Jewish identity. Indeed, in many Jewish circles today it has become more important to believe in Israel than to believe in God. Criticism of Israel feels like a personal attack, a challenge not of a state but of who we are. In my opinion, Breakthrough is a major contribution to the creation of genuine peace between Israel and the Arab population in the Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza because it directly explores the emotional issues that block peace and prevents people from seeing. Where a man cannot look, Forer writes, he cannot feel; and where a man cannot feel, he has not really looked. Without both he will never understand. Without understanding there will never be peace. Forer does a masterful job of deconstructing denial with example after example of naked and incontrovertible facts. . . . Where people . . . do not want to see, Forer deconstructs their arguments so they must look away not to see. Denial is a powerful mechanism of defense. . . . Hope is something we will never give up, says Ali, a young Palestinian college student the author interviewed. My people want the world community to give us more support. They don t have to be pro-Palestinian; they just need to be pro-human rights. We don t want to replace or be replaced, and we don t want to treat the Israelis the way they treat us. We just want peace and equality. There are many books that detail Israel s . . . treatment of the Palestinians, the author wrote to me in a recent email. I think my book s strength in that regard is the logic I bring to it, how I show that the arguments that Israel s defenders make are projections [that] should be applied to Israel far more than to the Palestinians. The primary contribution of [the] book . . . is the deconstructing of the mind that creates a world of internal oppression and then projects it out into the world onto appropriate scapegoats . . . who become objects of blame. Equally primary is [the] suggestion that the root problem is a spiritual one, of identity, more so than land or religion as the root cause. If people can begin to intuit their connection to all beings and to life my book will have been effective. I agree. Once we are able to intuit our connection to all beings and to life itself, there will be no need to engage in persecution and war. And isn t that the real end we seek in this so far endless conflict? --George Polley, Palestine Chronicle

About the Author

Richard Forer was born in Trenton New Jersey in 1948. His father was an attorney and his uncle, Joseph Forer, a noted civil rights litigator and lead attorney with the National Lawyers Guild. His younger brother is an attorney and former President of one of the largest Reform synagogues on the East coast and his identical twin brother is a prominent member of an Ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism. Forer is a practitioner of the Meir Schneider Self-Healing Method, a unique system of healing developed by an Israeli.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Insight Press; First edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615404588
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615404585
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,094,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Joy Helmer on February 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
This extraordinary book is about the wakening into awareness by an American Jew who had never questioned his automatic and reflexive loyalty to Israel, and the wisdom of the standard political rhetoric issued by the government of Israel. He had never doubted the prevailing Israeli myths, repeated frequently in the Jewish diaspora, that Israel is hated around the world and has to struggle daily for its survival against a sea of anti-Semites. Questioning Israel's actions, particularly about the occupation of the West Bank and its treatment of the Palestinians there, and in Gaza, has been regarded by other Jews, both in Israel and in the United States, as disloyal.
To wake up, to question and to learn, thus becomes a kind of heresy. This is a brave, beautiful and generous book. It is brave because the author has risked much to share his story of awakening. He has lost close connections with his family because he no longer holds the correct views about Israel and the Palestinians. To my mind, this is a tragic and unnecessary loss that humans pay in order to be right. This book is deeply grounded in historical fact and impeccably researched.
Forer's awakening began during the summer of 2006 when Israel was involved in the invasion of Lebanon and fought with Hezbollah. Forer was someone who had been deeply loyal to the state of Israel and was terrified as he witnessed the latest war that threatened the country he loved so much. He shared his anxiety with close friends here at home in the US. To his amazement, several friends urged him to get his facts straight. They recommended he read about what was actually going on between Israel and the Palestinians.
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Format: Paperback
Mr. Forer tells his personal journey from reflexive defense of Israel & Zionism (fearing any criticism was a threat upon Jews) to preemptive compassion toward all Zionism's victims (the Jews who betray Judaism through defending Israel and Zionism, the Palestinian Christians and Muslims who suffer its daily violence, and the American public as well in its blind support of such atrocities). It is a story well told: articulate, accurate, fair, but forceful.

To his credit, Mr. Forer excels at both challenging the views of Israel's and Zionism's supporters, while leaving their human dignity and respect intact. Ultimately, his is a story known and told over the ages by any who who have tried to wrestle this earthly humanity to a more humane path, whether it be Jesus, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Tutu, and others, namely, we are all in this together, equal, not some above, or separate, or better than others; while others are below or evil. Page 310: "the non-separate state is in truth the ONLY state. It is beyond all relative phenomena, and yet contains all relative phenomena as itself without separation. All other states are impermanent and arise out of and decay back into this always-existing source of existence. From this perspective, my conditioned beliefs [about Israel] had been an illusion that never really existed or had any substance in the first place.....when the awakening "occurred," there was the intuition that the awakened state is always already the case, that it is primary, that there is no other state....That serendipitous expansion showed me that my commitment to a limited identity and its beliefs and judgments had left me incapable of real compassion and clarity. The outcome of that understanding was a breakthrough in consciousness.
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A powerful book. Rich has done his homework. Unraveling the last hundred years of Zionism is no trivial task. Several analogies come to mind -- it is a bit like peeling away the layers of an onion, constantly seeking but never quite finding an explanation that satisfies. It was Martin Buber in the early 1920s who predicted that the Arab question would be the moral litmus test for Zionism. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, we were slow to come to the realization that Zionism had indeed failed that test. None of us wanted to believe it. That is what made the journey that Rich embarked upon so emotionally and intellectually difficult and it is what continues to confuse an American Jewish community known for its brilliance and accomplishments. The tragic reality of the legacy created in Israel is one that none of us wanted to see. Rich brings light into darkness in a powerful and compelling manner without letting anger and disappointment interfere with having to face a most uncomfortable matter. Ultimately the story of Israel is about human frailty; it's a story that is very disappointing and disturbing. The essence of Israel's failings is inherent in the human predicament. We fail often, but we can do better.

You will find his journey enlightening and provocative. It is a must read.
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Rich Forer's "Breakthrough" is a masterpiece of research, combining data from many sources and merging it with a humanistic and spiritual viewpoint. I have had the same experiences he has had and the book resonated with me profoundly. It is a book that I wish my family would read so that they would not only gain a true understanding of the Palestine/Israel situation, but perhaps find compassion for "the other" and realize we are one human family.
Forer also includes interviews with a Palestinian refugee and a Jewish woman living in a large settlement who has created a conversation group between Jewish Israelis and W. Bank Palestinians. This was particularly moving because it shows that before she actually met Palestinians, she thought of them as essentially different from Jews. Establishing communication has changed her perception of the entire situation and allowed her to access her compassion.
He also addresses the issue of any Jewish criticism of Israeli policy being called either anti-Semitic or "self-hating". As someone who has been called both, his analysis was excellent.
I have read many,many books since my visit to the W. Bank in 2008, and "Breakthrough" is comprehensive yet incredibly readable.
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