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.
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.
... an impassioned if one-sided critique ... he barely mentions previous attempts by the Israeli government to trade land for peace, and downplays anti-Israeli rhetoric and actions by Iran and other countries in the Middle East. Readers looking for a more balanced and incisive treatment of this subject would be better served by Daniel Gordis’s We Stand Divided: The Rift Between American Jews and Israel.