Review of “Saving Israel” by Daniel Gordis

Daniel Gordis’ Saving Israel lives up to his reputation as one of the cleverest and most passionate thinkers in the Jewish world.  In this book, Gordis ventures into make a compelling case for why Israel matters.  Rather than deal with nitty-gritty details, Gordis writes in broad strokes and tackles the major philosophical, social, and demographic challenges that face Israel.

From the outset, Gordis lays out the conundrums that make Israel’s seem impossible.  He then tackles all of  those questions, from the decline of American Zionism to the question of Arab Israelis.  More importantly, (and this is why Saving Israel should be used as a textbook in Zionism courses) Gordis articulates why Israel is important and what makes it so important.  The unapologetic stance reveals some important truths to Israeli society.  For instance, Gordis cites the controversial work of historian Benny Morris, who has proven that the eviction of Arabs was a hidden war aim of the War of Independence, and claims that Israel cannot survive with a large ethnic minority.

Gordis obviously did his homework in researching this book, but avoids packing every factoid into this book.  He interweaves personal anecdotes of life in Israel to make more profound points about these enduring questions.  A story about his son meeting a secular Israeli that does not recognize the shema or his daughter’s sage notion that Israel can still be about peace even when it seems unattainable create a vivid picture of an Israel worth saving.

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