Gordis gestures toward an awareness of Israel’s excesses, but his 'to be sure's feel empty. To him, the opposite of Revisionism remains a suicidal passivity ... Gordis has undertaken to explain European and Israeli Zionism to supposedly uncomprehending Diaspora Jews; if he will teach, he must teach the whole, not the part ... But Gordis’s biases are nothing compared with the louder silence that echoes through this book. He never tests his premise against the really hard questions: the Palestinians, the West Bank settlements and Israel’s recent embrace of so-called illiberal democracies like Hungary and Poland, as well as dictators. Astonishingly, Gordis reduces the Palestinian question to a footnote in which he grants that the arguments he makes about particularism also justify Palestinian nationalism, then declares such a discussion outside his purview ... Gordis’s failure to grapple seriously with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank also undercuts his argument ... In the concept of the ethnic democracy, Gordis lays out a bracing idea that ought to make us reassess knee-jerk impositions of American values on Israel. But if he won’t face up to its abuses, potential and real, he won’t change many minds.
Daniel Gordis boldly attacks...questions with unusual verve and deep knowledge. As he deliberately uncovers layer after layer of the issues and explains each one with clarity and patience, we begin to see how the rift occurred and why the causes of it resonate so fully today. Gordis, American born and raised, has lived and worked in Israel for decades and so is the perfect individual to take us on this existential journey. Through his lucid prose we learn about the competing views of Judaism envisioned by Americans and Israelis, the two largest Jewish communities in the world ... [an] academic yet accessible book ... To say that Gordis knows his topic and is well-qualified to write this insightful book is a vast understatement.
Mr. Gordis labors to avoid taking sides, but he bemoans 'Jewish illiteracy' in America, faulting Jews in the U.S. for their tendency to mistake their liberal, universal principles for Judaism and to imagine Israel as a 'Hebrew-speaking, falafel-eating version of America' ... Gallup’s most recent polling finds that 95% of American Jews have favorable views of Israel. That support has limits, driving Jewish conservatives and Israelis to distraction, but We Stand Divided reminds us that it was ever thus. If Mr. Gordis aims his sights too low, one reason may be that he sees a gulf separating not only American and Israeli Jews but also their nations, America and Israel.