Israel has changed. The country was born in Europe's shadow, haunted by the Holocaust and inspired by the Enlightenment. But for Israelis today, Europe is hardly relevant, and the country's ties to the broader West, even to America, are fraying. Where is Israel heading? How do citizens of an increasingly diverse nation see themselves globally and historically?
In this revealing portrait of the new Israel, Diana Pinto presents a country simultaneously moving forward and backward, looking outward and turning in on itself. In business, Israel is forging new links with the giants of Asia, and its booming science and technology sectors are helping define the future for the entire world. But in politics and religion, Israelis are increasingly self-absorbed, building literal and metaphorical walls against hostile neighbors and turning to ancient religious precepts for guidance here and now.
Pinto captures the new moods and mindsets, the anxieties and hopes of Israelis today in sharply drawn sketches of symbolically charged settings. She takes us on the roads to Jerusalem, to border control at Ben Gurion Airport, to a major Israeli conference in Jerusalem, to a hill overlooking the Dome of the Rock and Temple Mount, to the heart of Israel's high-tech economy, and to sparkling new malls and restaurants where people of different identities share nothing more than a desire to ignore one another.
Vivid and passionate but underpinned by deep analysis, this is a profound and sometimes unsettling account of a country that is no longer where we might think.
Pinto's strength as a writer is her penetrating understanding of what lies beneath the surface of the clichés...Pinto describes a recognizable Israeli mindset which owes nothing to the discourse of post-colonial narratives but rather a unique viewpoint, developed out of centuries of statelessness...Pinto has written about the country rather than being drawn, as so many intellectuals are, to the seamline, the conflict. Knowing that the occupation is wrong, that Zionism was a category error, absolves them of the duty of giving Israel and Israelis any real thought. In China and India the opposite is the case; they're fascinated by how the place works, what exactly is the secret of its ability to live outside geography. Pinto is the writer to turn to, though her own head is as bashed against the wall of futility as everybody else's.
[Pinto] presents impressions and interviews that reveal both Israeli truculence to go its own road as well as deep schisms within Israeli society. The author's vivid characterizations of Israeli society expose its deeply problematic nature: as 'autistic,' in that its brilliant young people and leaders operate within a self-contained obliviousness of others; as a 'realm of collective psychosis' in thinking, as ultranationalist religious Zionists do, that the Temple in Jerusalem could ever be rebuilt, since it would obliterate the Dome of the Rock, a holy site for Muslims; as a postmodern Utopia in its scientific and genetic advances; as a 'very large and ultrasophisticated aquarium' containing exotic fishes, all 'turning rapidly away to avoid the others, and all of this in utter silence.' From the choosing of which road to take into Jerusalem (through heroic landmarks or the less-traveled Route 443 leading to various Arab exits) to the country's spectacular embrace of high technology and Asian investment, which offer a glaring juxtaposition to the pre-modern lifestyles of the ultraorthodox, everywhere Israel is awash in contradictions. But does Israel really care who thinks so? Fewer and fewer sophisticated Israelis bother to envision a two-state solution, and Pinto fears that this solipsism is engendering a dangerous "self-satisfaction bordering on hubris"--and it can't last...A solid work of intellectual criticism.
In every chapter vivid colors depict in exquisite detail some delimited aspect of life. Diana Pinto has an eye for the telling detail that helps us feel the complexity, the nuance, the texture, and the flow of social, economic, cultural, and political life in Israel today.
Diana Pinto's book is brilliant. She draws a portrait of Israel as a living entity, warts and all, caught between the euphoric power of its creativity, and the weaknesses of its historical contradictions and political impasses. Studded with multi-layered illuminating anecdotes and metaphors, the book could easily pass as a fascinating travel journal. But rigorous intellectual categories lurk behind the highly readable style.
A terrific book, so well written that it is hard to put down while offering deep and analytical insights that must be taken seriously by anyone concerned with contemporary Israel.
Brilliant and beautifully written. Even those who disagree with Pinto's analysis cannot deny its force and her deep love and concern for Israel. An equally anguished and powerful rebuttal can be expected from Jerusalem.
This book takes Israel's built environment as a departure point to offer broader reflections on shifts in the nation's psyche, sometimes to brilliant and startling effect. Diana Pinto delineates the physical landscape of present-day Israel--its highways, restaurants and shopping malls--using it to describe the country as it is, not as the rest of the world would like it to be...Pinto's acute--and, in my view, apt--diagnosis of Israel's defining ailment is that it is 'autistic': trapped inside its own increasingly comfortable, security-defended bubble, unable to connect with--much less identify with--its neighbors, starting with the Palestinians...Overall, the effect is of enjoying an engaging and trenchant dinner party conversation with an intelligent traveller brimming with impressions from a trip.
It’s rare for any book nowadays to cast totally new light on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but Diana Pinto’s Israel Has Moved does just that. She argues that the political, military and financial elite of Israel are turning away from Europe and even from America, which they regard as mired in economic difficulties and riven by ideological contradictions, and are looking to align themselves with those regimes in the Far East, China in particular, which have, like them, scant regard for human rights and a fierce determination to succeed economically and politically. Written out of a profound reverence for Enlightenment values, this desperately sad yet elegant and witty book asks us to contemplate the possibility that the Enlightenment, far from gradually conquering the globe, may, after 250 years, be slowly dying before our eyes.
- 224 pages
- 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
Sorry, there was an error adding the item to your shopping bag.
Sorry, your session has expired. Please refresh your browser's tab.