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The Peace Process: II

- Abstract

To the Editor:

Hillel Halkin [“Israel Against Itself,” November 1994] should be applauded for his candid and trenchant analysis of the malaise afflicting Israeli society. He is correct in ascribing it, in the words of Daniel J. Elazar, to the “new privatism [in Israel] that does not encourage great public purposes or individual sacrifice for public tasks,” and which may signify “the end of Zionism” in its classic sense of self-sacrifice for the common good.

It is also true that in this, as in many other respects, Israel reflects Western fashions, both intellectual and popular, from “the decline in religious or national exclusivism” to the addiction to pop music, fast foods, and yuppie “lifestyles.” This, however, is only part of the story, and it begs the question of why Israelis—especially the young, many of whom still insist on joining elite fighting units at great risk—have also become so vulnerable to centrifugal and alienating trends, even while Israel remains under siege, a situation that until now has strengthened national cohesiveness and given Israelis a sense of national purpose.

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