The New Israelis: An Intimate View of a Changing People
The results of the June 1992 Israeli elections indicate that Israel is on the verge of a dramatic political reversal. After fifteen years of right-wing Likud government, the Labor party is back in power. In The New Israelis, Yossi Melman, an award-winning Israeli journalist and author explores the character of his fellow countrymen and women to reveal the agents of change in Israeli society. The new Israelis are undergoing a period of confusion and vulnerability, and the Persian Gulf War struck them a devastating psychological blow. By forcing Israel to stand defenseless before its enemies, the war unleashed hidden and unprecedented conflicts within the Israeli people about their relationship to their own nation. Never before has the very identity of Israel been so challenged as it is today. The Israeli people are torn between a modern secularism and a historical religious tendency that is manifested in both a new and powerful fundamentalism and a widespread obsession with mystical cults. The kibbutz movement and many of the cornerstones of Israel's western socialist democracy are eroding; the emerging free market economy, compulsive consumerism, and the indiscriminate imitation of popular western culture have shaken the Zionist heritage. The traditional patterns of social justice and faith in the righteousness of Israel's defensive wars have been eroded by a combination of corruption and a recognition that the facts of Israel's history do not correspond to its mythology. The persistence of the Palestinian dilemma and the state's continuing role as occupier have haunted Israeli life. After a half-century of fighting wars, Israelis are finally weary. Knowing his country and the dilemmasit faces, Yossi Melman looks at Israeli history and contemporary life in a new way: He is both critical of and sympathetic toward the paradoxes of Israeli life. In The New Israelis he offers a dramatic and intimate view of how the Israeli people are facing their changing nation and what that portends for the future of Israel, the Jewish diaspora and the rest of the world.
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