Some reading recommendations to enlighten and inspire you
I’d like to strongly recommend a few things to read - some to be better informed about things, and some to feel better about things.
First is a free online article about the justification for the existence of Israel in a way that other people should be able to understand. It was written by the late Ruth Gavison, an Israeli human rights expert and law professor. You might that think that it’s “obvious” that Israel had a right to come into existence, but there are nuances and arguments that are important to be aware of, especially in order to explain it to others. How could the Jews go to a place where there were 600,000 Arabs and declare it to be their country? By what right does a British or American Jew move to Israel, whereas a Palestinian cannot? Read Gavison’s essay all the way through (it’s long!) and you’ll have the answers.
Next is a book by Daniel Gordis, Impossible Takes Longer: 75 Years After Its Creation, Has Israel Fulfilled Its Founders' Dreams? Gordis always has interesting things to say, and is a very honest person. I had to unsubscribe from his Substack because his war commentary and predictions were getting too depressing. But this book manages to be honest and inspirational, showing that despite the shortcomings and problems, Israel has accomplished so many amazing things, some of which our ancestors would never even have dreamed of.
Another inspirational book is The Genius of Israel: The Surprising Resilience of a Divided Nation in a Turbulent World. Written by the authors of Start-Up Nation, this inspirational work addresses a striking question: We all know how harmful stress is for health and happiness. And yet despite Israel being under considerable stresses, Israelis rank among the happiest and longest-lived of people, possess extraordinary resilience, and are remarkably successful in life. How can that be?
This book surveys a wealth of factors that contribute to this, including such things as meaning, social connections, Shabbat, youth movements, and army service. Some of these relate to Judaism, but as the authors show, even secular Israelis benefit from them. Although published before October 7th, this book sheds light upon how Israeli society rose to the occasion so magnificently. And in difficult times like these, it’s wonderful to read.
I highly recommend these books - and while you wait for Amazon to deliver them, read Professor Gavison’s essay!
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