We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel

 
9780062873699: We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel
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From National Jewish Book Award Winner and author of Israel, a bold reevaluation of the tensions between American and Israeli Jews that reimagines the past, present, and future of Jewish life

Relations between the American Jewish community and Israel are at an all-time nadir. Since Israel's founding seventy years ago, particularly as memory of the Holocaust and of Israel's early vulnerability has receded, the divide has grown only wider. Most explanations pin the blame on Israel's handling of its conflict with the Palestinians, Israel's attitude toward non-Orthodox Judaism, and Israel's dismissive attitude toward American Jews in general. In short, the cause for the rupture is not what Israel is; it's what Israel does.

These explanations tell only half the story. We Stand Divided examines the history of the troubled relationship, showing that from the outset, the founders of what are now the world's two largest Jewish communities were responding to different threats and opportunities, and had very different ideas of how to guarantee a Jewish future.

With an even hand, Daniel Gordis takes us beyond the headlines and explains how Israel and America have fundamentally different ideas about issues ranging from democracy and history to religion and identity. He argues that as a first step to healing the breach, the two communities must acknowledge and discuss their profound differences and moral commitments. Only then can they forge a path forward, together.

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Review:

"With so many worried about the growing distance between American Jews and Israel, We Stand Divided is an extremely important, timely book. Offering a sweeping history of what has always been a troubled relationship, Daniel Gordis writes intelligently and clearly about the ongoing ideological tensions and how to resolve them."--Natan Sharansky, former political prisoner in the Soviet Union, former minister for Diaspora Affairs in Israel and former head of the Jewish Agency of Israel

"Impassioned, brilliant, and riveting, We Stand Divided is the essential book for understanding American Jewish-Israel relations. Gordis has made an outstanding contribution to the field."

--Michael Oren, Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States

"Those anguished by the rift between Israelis and American Jews might be surprised to learn it was ever thus. With empathy and deep historical insight, Daniel Gordis traces the roots and development of this disconnect and imagines a future of deepened mutual appreciation aimed at sustaining one unified Jewish people."--Daniel Shapiro, Former US Ambassador to Israel

"A fascinating and provocative description of the growing gap between American Jews and Israel. This book is a conversation starter, a conversation that is increasingly important. I recommend it highly."--Deborah Lipstadt, author of Antisemitism Here and Now

From the Back Cover:

From National Jewish Book Award winner and author of Israel, a bold reevaluation of the tensions between American and Israeli Jews that reinterprets the past and reimagines the future of Jewish life

Relations between the American Jewish community and Israel are at an all-time nadir. Most explanations pin the blame on Israel's conduct: its handling of the conflict with the Palestinians, its attitude toward non-Orthodox Judaism, and the Jewish state's dismissive view of American Jews in general. Others point an accusing finger at American Jews, insisting that in embracing America's progressive values, many American Jews have become more sympathetic to Israel's enemies than they are to the Jewish state.

But these explanations, Daniel Gordis argues, miss the real causes for the divide. Gordis's new book, We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel, examines the history of the troubled relationship, showing that from the very outset--even before the state of Israel was created--the two communities' dreams for a Jewish future had little in common.

American Jews and Israelis built their respective communities to embrace different opportunities and in response to different challenges. Over decades, two radically diverging visions of Jewish life emerged. Thus, Gordis argues, as a first step to healing the breach, the two communities must acknowledge and discuss their profoundly different purposes and moral commitments. Only then can they forge a path forward, together.

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