A French writer who lived for more than a decade in Israel offers a sharp critique of the rightward-drifting nation, arguing that it has aligned itself with authoritarian regimes and adopted the practices of a security state—creating a disconnect between the nation and values of diasporic Jewish peoples.
... a one-sided condemnation ... Writing with a bitter, sarcastic tone, Cypel opens his attack with a barrage of disturbing accounts of Israeli soldiers abusing Palestinians, and he never lets up ... Cypel’s attack should never have been against the state of Israel but against the right-wing parties that have led it ... To be clear, I’m not defending the actions of Israel; I’m criticizing Cypel’s argument, because it’s full of fallacies ... Ultimately, Cypel’s main idea is correct: Israel’s actions are bad for the Jews—but not in the way he means ... to argue that Israel should change its behavior so that diaspora Jews aren’t attacked, or that American Jews shouldn’t support Israel if they don’t want to be persecuted, is essentially blaming the victim ... Blinded by his anti-Zionist agenda, Cypel amazingly avoids giving serious attention to the real threat to Jewish bodies because of prevalent antisemitism on all sides of the political spectrum, all over the world ... The State of Israel vs. the Jews will only fuel the already ablaze anti-Zionism prevalent among progressives—an anti-Zionism that, yes, often bleeds into antisemitism. But if Cypel actually wanted to convince anyone on the other side, then he’s failed.
Sylvain Cypel argues forcefully for the moral bankruptcy of Israel in its treatment of Palestinians. He has marshalled many sources, quotes many people, but the book never rises above the level of a diatribe because there is not a single instance of presenting any information that doesn’t gibe with his viewpoint. This lack makes the book not a reasoned study, but a polemical screed. Cypel may make good points, but it’s hard to take him seriously when he glosses over major issues with barely a mention. Anyone hoping for an illuminating overview of Israeli policy and social attitudes will be disappointed. Cypel has an ax to grind, and he comes out swinging from the first pages ... This sanctimoniousness adds an oily layer to an already disappointing book, lacking in intellectual, historical, and political rigor.
Making effective use of solid sources—newspaper articles, interviews, speeches, and others—the author regards the recent passage of the 'Basic Laws,' defining who gets to be a citizen, as a chilling example of how the nation-state has grown more insular and 'hyperethnocentric' ... In Israel, Cypel effectively argues, force has triumphed over international law.