Shahak, Israel and Norton Mezvisnky. Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, 2d ed.

PositionBook review

Shahak, Israel and Norton Mezvisnky. Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. 2nd edition. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Pluto Press, 2004, 176 pages. Paper $13.57.

Shahak and Mezvinsky's updated new edition of "Jewish Fundamentalism" unveils more than the nature and political sway of Jewish fundamentalism in Israel; it reveals unacknowledged, and largely unknown outside Israel, properties of such phenomenon that have become an integral force in the Israeli state and, by implication, Israeli society. The book places Jewish fundamentalism in a framework customarily applied to Islamic and Christian fundamentalism. It argues that Jewish fundamentalism possesses "nearly all the important social scientific properties of Islamic and Christian fundamentalism" (p. xvi).

The authors successfully show that Jewish fundamentalism is not limited to arcane religious practices or dress and food codes, as erroneously commonly believed, rather it has become a formidable and dangerous force not only "capable of influencing conventional Israeli policies but could also substantially affect Israel's nuclear policies." Beyond the political sway that Jewish fundamentalism has by virtue of its representation in the Israeli Knesset, "significant number of Israeli Jews who are not fundamentalists identify and support" some of their demands that would inevitably hinder any possibility of peace such as the building of the Temple (p. 5).

Confounding many people, the gist of Jewish fundamentalism is incompatible with and acts to undermine the very bases of democratic societies and practices. For despite the coquetting with...

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