Still Life With Bombers: Israel in the Age of Terrorism

by David Horovitz
ISBN: 1400040671

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A Review of: Still Life with Bombers
by David Solway

David Horovitz is the highly respected editor of The Jerusalem Report. He is a British national who emigrated to Israel in 1983 and immersed himself passionately in every aspect of Israeli life and culture, marrying and starting a family, building long-standing friendships with Muslims as well as Jews, and devoting himself to a stern and honest effort toward making sense of the Devil's Polymer which is the Middle East. In the course of daily life as well as professional practice, he has laboured to do justice to the competing claims of the various sides in the conflict, travelling the length and breadth of the West Bank at considerable personal risk to conduct interviews and establish meaningful relationships despite the barriers, physical and psychological, erected to prevent mutual understanding between the two peoples.
But although he desires peace above all Horovitz is not an Israeli peacenik. He has little sympathy with the branja-the left-leaning intellectual elite and the cult of the New Historians who work against Israel's welfare from within and have taken the currently fashionable line that blames the country for most of the ills that plague the area-and no sympathy whatsoever for a Palestinian leadership dedicated to its own advantage and a long-standing terrorist agenda at the expense of its people's legitimate needs and aspirations. Living amidst the havoc and carnage wreaked by the suicide bombers, waking up every day wondering whether his children will survive the morning ride to school, attending the funerals of young soldiers and harmless civilians whom he has come to see less as the victims of Israeli policy than of the lies and incitements of the Palestinian Authority and the scorched earth program of the terrorist organizations, Horovitz proclaims himself a committed citizen of Israel, a country he will not abandon or traduce.
At the same time, he strives to distinguish ordinary Palestinians, whose suffering is equally real, from the Yasser Arafats and Mahmoud Zahars and Saeb Erekats whose chronic savagery and treadmill mendacity have done more to deprive their people of the blessings of coexistence than even the most heavy-handed response of the Israeli military to the ongoing depredations of the shahids. Horovitz acknowledges that the thorny settler issue, as well as occasional Israeli collusion with the enemy in the form of shady financial transactions, must be dealt with. And Israel must offer viable terms for Palestinian statehood when it returns to the negotiating table. But he leaves no doubt that Israeli politicians "must also do their utmost to encourage the emergence of a new Palestinian leadership" willing to put an end to the bombs and anti-Israeli agitation before embarking on another round of talks.
In trying to clarify the matsav (the "situation") and to balance his compassion for the Palestinians with his love for Israel, while by no means exonerating the lapses and miscalculations of the Sharon and previous administrations, his conclusion is clear and unimpeachable: "There can be no moral equivalency between deaths achieved through the premeditated targeting of civilians, where success is measured by the size of the death toll, and deaths that unhappily stem from the efforts to protect those civilians." The coordinated terrorist offensive of Hamas, al-Aqsa and Arafat's al-Fatah is in a category of its own and has destroyed any imminent possibility of a peaceful resolution to the conflict. In his narrative unfolding of complex issues as well as in his plain good sense, Horovitz provides the human measure to what might otherwise remain an abstract plaidoyer.
Horovitz seeks to get inside the tumult of everyday life and the intricacies of political manipulation while eschewing imposed or boilerplate solutions to an imbroglio that may never be completely unravelled and ultimately settled. . . He tells it like it is, without sparing his adopted country from incisive criticism for its blunders and subterfuges. Horovitz tries to set the record straight, for all his crippling ambivalence.
Still Life With Bombers is a moving book, candid, fair-minded, lucidly written, erudite, and consistently temperate despite its barely suppressed anger at the chicanery of the world press which insistently misrepresents both the facts and the situation. It is heavy with grief yet leavened with hope.

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