In This Review

Brother Against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics From Altalena to the Rabin Assassination
Brother Against Brother: Violence and Extremism in Israeli Politics From Altalena to the Rabin Assassination
By Ehud Sprinzak
384 pp, Free Press, 1999
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Sprinzak provides a comprehensive account of violent Israeli political behavior and extraparliamentary politics since the creation of the Israeli state. An excellent short appendix, "Violence, Political Violence, and Political Violence in Israel," offers an eight-part catalogue of political violence in this period. Sprinzak notes the many different sources of violence, including settlers in the occupied territories who pursue their own anti-Arab policy while dictating their demands to the government, Sephardic grievances against the Ashkenazim, the ultra-Orthodox resistance to all things secular, and movements such as the late Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach. Chillingly effective are his accounts of the extremist rabbinical and nationalist ideologies that caused Yigal Amir (who assassinated Yitzhak Rabin) and Baruch Goldstein (who gunned down Muslim Arabs at prayer in Hebron) to believe that they were accomplishing religiously meritorious acts. Sprinzak plausibly argues that political violence in Israel has always been the work of a tiny minority and that Israelis are no more violent than the rest of the world, if not less so. The implicit message is not that Israelis have dirty hands but that people in any polity must agree on shared values and rules.