In 1948, Israel’s founders had in mind much more than creating a state. They sought not mere sovereignty, but the creation of a “national home for the Jewish people,” where Jewish life would be transformed and where a “new Jew” would take root. Did they succeed? The state they created, says Daniel Gordis, is “the most hated nation in the world, but also the most beloved,” a place of extraordinary success and maddening disappointment, a story of both unprecedented human triumph and great suffering.
Now, as the country marks its 75th anniversary, Gordis asks: Has Israel fulfilled the dreams of its founders? Using the country’s Declaration of Independence as his measure, he provides a thorough, balanced perspective on the ways in which the Israel of today exceeds the country’s original aspirations, but also the ways in which it has fallen short. In a deft and multifaceted assessment of Israel, he discusses the often-overlooked reasons for Israel’s creation, the flourishing of Jewish and Israeli culture, Israel’s economy and its transformative tech sector, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the distinctly Israeli form of Judaism that has emerged in the Jewish state, Israel’s complex relationship with the Diaspora, and much more.
Gordis offers new angles of thinking about Israel that bring moderation and clarity to the prevailing discourse. And through weighing Israel’s successes, critiquing its failures, and acknowledging its inherent contradictions, he ultimately suggests that—in ways its founders could not have foreseen—the Jewish state is a success far beyond anything they could have imagined.