Walled: Israeli Society at an Impasse

Walled: Israeli Society at an Impasse

by Sylvain Cypel
     
 

An award-winning journalist explores the culture of denial in Israeli and Palestinian societies–and its lethal consequences.

Walled examines the contemporary state of mind of Israel's citizens, tracing the history of the State of Israel back to the Jewish national movement and the beginnings of Zionism. Sylvain Cypel offers a lucid analysis of the

Overview

An award-winning journalist explores the culture of denial in Israeli and Palestinian societies–and its lethal consequences.

Walled examines the contemporary state of mind of Israel's citizens, tracing the history of the State of Israel back to the Jewish national movement and the beginnings of Zionism. Sylvain Cypel offers a lucid analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian situation and powerfully demonstrates that the wall of protection erected in the West Bank by Israel is the most visible symptom of a society in peril.

Those who are walled, Cypel argues, are first and foremost the Israelis themselves, who have chosen to ignore rather than acknowledge the existence and rights of their neighbors. Through the study of political discourse, intellectual controversy, and national institutions such as the army and the educational system, Cypel illuminates the mechanics of the culture of force that has led Israeli society into its current impasse. Walled combines historical, cultural, and sociological analysis with personal testimonies and a delightful Jewish wit, offering a cogent and gripping portrait of two peoples walled by denial: Israeli society and its "other," the Palestinians.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Publishers Weekly
This scathing indictment probes Israel's soul as much as the substance of its treatment of the Palestinians...Cypel's book...is an impassioned, often perceptive challenge to the Israeli consensus.

Kirkus Reviews
...of interest to students of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

New Yorker
"In this survey of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (translated anonymously from the French), Cypel, an editor at Le Monde who spent twelve years in Israel, writes with the ardor of a believer and the critical eye of a distant observer, producing a nuanced assault on the blindness and inertia that have afflicted both sides. Cypel is a harsh critic of the failures of Palestinian leadership—he excoriates the “Oriental despot” Arafat and the “impotent” regime he built—but believes that Israel needs to be saved from its own incipient brutalization. This process, which he carefully documents, is marked by a “cult of force,” a denial of history, an obsession with security at the expense of human rights, and a shocking willingness to discuss, publicly, the forcible cleansing of Palestinians from Israeli territory. These are symptoms of occupation, Cypel argues, and they can be cured only by its end."

Tikkun
Sylvain Cypel’s careful study of political discourse...if read as widely as [it] should be...would make a serious contribution to changing mass consciousness about the nature of the [Israeli/Palestinian] struggle and how we should respond.

ForeWord Magazine
For Sylvain Cypel, the wall [dividing Israel and Palestine] is much more than a physical barrier. It is a tangible manifestation of the mental walls that Israelis and Palestinians have built over the past sixty years. With the passion of an investigative journalist and the patience of a historian, Cypel describes how a culture of denial has strangled both societies.

Publishers Weekly

This scathing indictment probes Israel's soul as much as the substance of its treatment of the Palestinians. Cypel, a Le Mondeeditor and a Jew who lived in Israel for many years, revisits crucial episodes in the Arab-Israeli conflict, from the expulsion of Palestinians during the 1948 War of Independence to the controversial 2000 Camp David negotiations whose failure led to the current intifada. Citing Israeli scholars, Cypel debunks the standard Israeli accounts and pillories what he contends is Israel's systematic repression of Palestinians in the occupied territories. From this somewhat haphazard critique (the book presupposes extensive knowledge of Israeli history and politics), he explores the ideology and mentality behind Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. His diagnosis is dire: a deep-seated "denial of reality" marked by anti-Arab racism, an irrational sense of victimization and an obsession with military security at the expense of political compromise, leading to a pervasive "brutalization" of society; "as [Israel] goes from victory to victory, the country is being morally destroyed." (Cypel takes some swipes at the Palestinians, but clearly feels that Israel bears more responsibility for the impasse.) Cypel's book can be heavy going—contentious, rambling, repetitive and full of dense psychologizing. Still, his is an impassioned, often perceptive challenge to the Israeli consensus. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Cypel, a French journalist who lived in Israel for 12 years and worked in the region much longer, has written a dense and challenging study of Israel and its fruitless search for security, focusing especially on the period of Israel's creation, the impact of the 1967 war, and the negotiations of the 1990s. Throughout this period, Israel has had vast military superiority but has failed to find a successful approach to coexisting with the displaced Palestinians. Cypel describes the disarray and corruption in the Palestinian Authority established after the Oslo Accords in 1993 but blames Israel's repression of the Palestinians and inability to acknowledge its own history for the failure to achieve the now accepted goal of two independent states. His blunt criticism of the brutal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza after 1967 will offend many supporters of Israel, but he justifies his harsh views with a detailed analysis of the policies and actions of the Israeli government and military based on extensive research and interviews. He concludes that the only way to achieve peace and security is by Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank to the 1967 borders. This is a rich and valuable study, but it does require readers to have a basic knowledge of modern Arab-Israeli relations.
—Elizabeth R. Hayford

Kirkus Reviews
Israel and Palestine will never be at peace, writes French journalist Cypel, until Israel acknowledges that "the occupation is the terrain on which terrorism prospers, borne along by desire for liberation."There is much else to understand, writes Cypel, who keeps up a running argument with historian Benny Morris and other Israeli intellectuals throughout. One is a massacre of Palestinian civilians that occurred a week after Israel's declaration of independence; the alleged organizer went on to become the assistant secretary of the Ministry of Defense, and the deaths at Tantura went largely unremembered until a "student historian whose methodology is sometimes faulty and often confused" began to look into the matter. Another point requiring airing, Cypel argues, is the fact that Israeli independence, which came about as a result of UN Resolution 181, theoretically has a twin: The General Assembly recommended that Palestine be divided into two co-equal states, one Arab and the other Jewish, that would cooperate economically. "This resolution," Cypel writes, "has never, to my knowledge, appeared in its entirety in Hebrew." It has probably not been widely circulated in Arabic either, and, though he is inclined to blame Israeli intransigence above other causes, Cypel acknowledges that Israeli wrongdoing has often been matched by actions on the other side, such that two fundamentally ethnocentric national movements-both "late on the level of political mentality"-are now dancing together, each wishing the other would disappear. This will likely not happen, of course, and Cypel, like everyone else, comes up short when it comes to offering answers. He is rather better at describing large-scaletrends within Israeli society, including ever-increasing Americanization, which some Israelis consider a welcome alternative to old-fashioned Zionism. He is also good when it comes to describing the political failings of Palestinian Authority under Arafat, which did little to improve matters. Partial and polemical, but of interest to students of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590512104
Publisher:
Other Press, LLC
Publication date:
06/12/2007
Pages:
534
Product dimensions:
5.45(w) x 8.18(h) x 1.51(d)

Meet the Author

Sylvain Cypel

Sylvain Cypel, senior editor at Le Monde, joined the paper in 1998 as deputy head of the international section, following a five-year tenure as editor in chief of Courrier International and a stint as deputy editor in chief at the journal Les Echos. Cypel has long worked for the daily Le Matin de Paris and as a freelance journalist for France 2, Libération, and other media outlets, often covering the Middle East. He holds degrees in sociology, contemporary history, and international relations, the last of which he earned at the University of Jerusalem. He lived in Israel for twelve years, and is now based in Paris. Walled was originally published in French; the Spanish translation of the book has been awarded the 23rd "Francisco Cerecedo" Journalism Prize from the Association of European Journalists.

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