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Publishers WeeklyNoted Middle East scholar Rubin (coauthor, Hating America: A History) divides this overview of Israel into seven categories, offering in-depth perspectives with encyclopedic breadth on the makeup of the Jewish state, focusing only briefly on Israel's struggle for self-preservation. The section "History" provides a masterful summary of Israel's past from its socialist beginnings before independence to the modern struggles with the Iranian regime. "Land and People" gives a thorough summary of the country's demographics, while "Society" and "Government and Politics" offer streamlined narratives of Israeli society's dialectic between religious and secular identity and the political struggles dealing with the nation's often crippling and "ever-active self-criticism." Of particular note is the "Culture" section, which reveals the rich and increasingly influential art, literature, film, and music that Israelis are producing, such as the Golden Globe-winning animated film Waltz with Bashir. The text shies away from some of Israel's more controversial actions, such as the bulldozing of Palestinian properties during the Second Intifada. The book's stated goals are to present a portrait of the complex strata of Israeli society without focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while also dispelling the often "artificially manufactured myths and rewritings of history" that have made the country controversial. Rubin has focused on the fabric of Israeli society instead of the controversy that surrounds it . Illus.
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