Two authors have produced two very different books about Israel, one a warning about its growing illiberalism and the other an argument that increasing pressure on Israel, including through violence, was the only historically successful way for outside powers to bring the Jewish state to compromise on the Palestinian issue. Together, the two books form a coherent whole, a narrative of an Israel that has grown comfortable with occupation even as its domestic fractures tear away at its democratic foundations. But these arguments are more anxiety than fact, condensing complex historical developments into the confines of narrow moral judgments. Israel is demonstrably more democratic and unified today than it was in the past—no high praise for Israel of yesteryear but undermining the argument about its alleged decline. And while it is certainly the case that Israel has often responded to war and terrorism with offers of ceasefire and even peace, it was the explosions of violence in the Second Intifada and Second Lebanon War that drove most Israelis to distrust peacemaking efforts for a generation. These complexities and more are missing from these books, and so render them less an examination of the real Israel and more an unintended exposition about the moral anxieties of Western observers of Israel.

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