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4 Works 839 Members 54 Reviews

About the Author

Ari Shavit is a journalist in Israel. He is a columnist for Haaretz and a commentator on Israeli public television. (Bowker Author Biography)

Works by Ari Shavit


Common Knowledge

Legal name
Ari Shavit
Rehovort, Israel
Places of residence
Kfar Shmaryahu, Israel



There is much learned about today's Israel in this remarkable book, but I must say one of the most startling things I learned -- which I may in fact have learned before but forgot -- was that the intelligence community in Washington faked a national security estimate (NSE) on information about the nuclear capability of Iran because experts thought George W. Bush would use the truth to start a war against Iran. I will have to check back to see if this is true. If it is, it means the man elected to protect the USA was not trusted enough by his own staff to act responsibly on the ultimate questions of national security. In the case of Bush, there is some grounds to believe they made the right decision. But nobody elected them.

As for the past and present of Israel, this book is remarkable. It showed me how different Israel is today from the one I visited -- and worked on a kibbutz -- about 40 years ago. This much and more has happened:

"In less than 30 years, Israel has experienced seven different internal revolts: the settlers' revolt, the peace revolt, the liberal-judicial revolt, the oriental revolt, the ultra-Orthox revolt, the hedonist-individualist revolt, and the Palestinian Israeli's revolt."

So if the displaced Palestinians got the impression that they were the only ones displeased with Israeli intransigence, they shouldn't feel alone: it seems most Israelis are pretty annoyed, too.

This in addition to threats from neighbouring Arab regimes, worldwide Islam, and extremist Islamist groups.

But how much of this is unique to Israel and how much the nature of our times?

Let's compare Israel polity to my own Canadian:

We occupy a land that was forcibly taken from indigenous people. Check.

We marginalize minority groups based on ethnicity and possibly religious affiliation. Check.

Our leadership appears feckless and rudderless. Our democracy is immobilised by regional grievances and short-term thinking. Check.

The resource curse lures us to balance our budget with oil revenues instead of banking them and focussing on sustainable changes to the economy. Well, this is something Israel is about to find our about with newly discovered off-shore gas reserves.

Shavit interviews a great many people linked to the themes of dispossession and security. Odd how Shavit ignores interviewing anybody remotely concerned with environmental degredation. Yes, Israeli's made the desert bloom. What about salinization of the soil, or the impact of so much more garbage on the landscape. Well, at least they aren't overflowing in pig ordure like the American midwest.

This story also underlines another reason Israeli GDP is growing faster than the European economies, or Japan for that matter: sustained immigration over a long period of time, something Canada and the US excel at over their Western competitors.

Israel grew so fast -- and continues to grow -- that social planners are helplessly left in the dust.
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MylesKesten | 53 other reviews | Jan 23, 2024 |
Continuing on a quest to understand more about the Middle East and how we got to this point in history, Shavit's discourse on the history of Israel is so informative. From the late 1800s when the first Zionist movement began to establish communities in Palestine for Jewish settlers, to the explosion of violence before World War I, and up through the modern day sect-plagued Israeli politics, Shavit carefully explains the seeds of violence and hate playing out in the current news. Though an Israeli journalist, and descendant of early Zionists, Shavit is not afraid to divvy up blame where it belongs. If you think you know how Israel came to be, you probably don't have a clue.

highly Recommended!!!!!
5 bones!!!!!
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blackdogbooks | 53 other reviews | Dec 26, 2023 |
The author is, among other things, a columnist for Haaretz. This is a personal, wide-ranging, sociological history of Israel, told as a series of life stories of the author's friends and acquaintances. His view is unusually well balanced and insightful.
markm2315 | 53 other reviews | Jul 1, 2023 |
Balanced, in-depth, lyrical account of Israel's history and current predicament. Each chapter presents a different face of Israel's modern past and present, and not necessarily the ones you would expect. Really enjoyed.
Robert_Musil | 53 other reviews | Dec 15, 2019 |



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