- Paperback: 278 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press (December 13, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520246721
- ISBN-13: 978-0520246720
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #973,934 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Invention and Decline of Isræliness: State, Society, and the Military
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"Baruch Kimmerling is an influential and controversial scholar whose books have set the agenda for contemporary Israel Studies.
From the Inside Flap
"Baruch Kimmerling is an influential and controversial scholar whose books have set the agenda for contemporary Israel Studies. The Invention and Decline of Israelinessoffers an original and provocative interpretation of the formation and transformation of Israeli national identity. Anyone seriously interested in Israeli society should read this book."Derek Penslar, author of Shylock's Children: Economics and Jewish Identity in Modern Europe
Top customer reviews
With that said what makes this book really good is the deep exploration into how Israel functions as a society, and in so doing fleshing out the causes for the stratification of Israeli society as well as examining some potential reasons for how this place and these people have managed to create such vibrant country. What the author does is show how the first Israelis tried to create a new culture (or Israeliness), and then show how that new identity conflicted with the thousands of immigrants that poured into the fledgling new country. The elites tried to shore up their own version of Israeliness and have the new immigrants conform to their vision. Instead of conforming many stuck to their own cultural norms, and, like most immigrant societies, they became their version of Israelis. What the author posits is that, today, in Israel there exists several different versions of Israelis, and they are all competing as well as commingling, but they haven't been able to integrate fully into any version of Israeliness.
This doesn't mean Israel is going to fall apart, but what it does is highlight some of the resulting dysfunctionality of the state that results in this stratified society. This is illustrated perfectly in the problems of government, and how good governance is often times held hostage to small interest groups who have the power to shut down the state with very few elected members.
It also highlights the fact that much of the cohesion of the state is based on war and the preperation for war. The military is the largest melting pot in the country and it bases its continued existence on the threats from outside. These threats have artificially held this country together and kept it from confronting some very real internal problems. From the war in 48 to today Israel has had some deep internal problems that have been pushed into a corner to be dealt with at another time due to the seige mentality that has reigned, but what might happen if and when that seige is lifted is anybody's guess.
He also discusses the problems Israel has as a society and a democratic state with a large portion of its population excluded from much of the state. Whether it be the fact they are excluded from the military or ministerial positions or the fact that they live in a state that says it is a Jewish state for the Jewish peopl, there are huge problems facing the Palestinians and the Israeli state as regards its minorities and its obligations to those people.
In the end I give this book high rating because if you are interested in deeper sociological examination of Israeli society then this is the book you want. Some of the information is to be expected, but what the author does well is to go much deeper and explain why and how Israel has developed. Lastly the book deserves four stars, but I gave it five because at the time of my review there are only two reviews. One of which is a one star review that doesn't actually discuss this book at all but is a political hatchet job directed at the author. I don't want people skipping a valuable work just because it has a low rating due not to the content of the actual work, but the political views of the reviewer.
The real point is that Kimmerling aims at helping produce the disintegration he is claiming exists.
My suspicion however is that the state of Israel will be thriving long after Mr.Kimmerling is no longer available to deliver us his awkwardly written distortions.