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BOOK REVIEW BY JOHN FARBER: DANNY DANON'S

by John Farber, January 30, 2013

From the opening sentence, “I represent a new generation of leaders who see Israel taking a different and more autonomous path....”, you know you are in for a different read on events by someone about to propose something bold.

Danny Danon (not to be confused with Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon) is the Deputy Speaker of the Israel Knesset and a member of the Likud Party. He is Chairperson of World Likud Organization and the Knesset Committee on Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs. At 42, he is an active, energetic and determined Zionist and considered a rising star within Likud and Israeli politics.

Israel: The Will to Prevail is a short, 230 page, well documented and fact-based summary of the history and development of Israel. Published in September, 2012, it is current and timely.

The book is divided into an Introduction and three sections; Part 1 reviews, in some depth, the current situation; Part 2 describes how Israel arrived at its current “crossroads”; and Part 3 proposes a new “Road Map”. There are several appendices and an extensive list of 256 references.

The Introduction is essential reading for this book and gives a revealing insight into Danny Danon and where he and his generation is headed. He pulls no punches when he likens his generation to that of Ben-Gurion's; brash, determined, and committed to Israel's best interest, as he says, “with or without backing from her allies”. He notes throughout the book that Israel's greatest successes have historically occurred when it acts on its own and in its own interest. He concludes the Introduction by noting the purpose of the book is not just to present the facts as he interprets them, but for the book to be a tool to help those who “genuinely love” Israel to effectively counter its detractors. In this he has succeeded.

Part 1, Dangers and Opportunity, is the longest section of the book. In it, Danon provides an overview of the current landscape in Israel and its relationship to the world. He discusses in some detail, four major topics, Jihad and the Global Threat; The Arab Winter, in which he reviews each major country in the Middle East; The Obama Administration; and The Ideological War on Israel, including universities and the media. He is compelling in exposing the challenges facing Israel. 

In Part 2, How Israel Arrived at the Crossroads, Danon describes how Israel has come to the situation it now faces; focusing in large part on the evolving and sometimes disturbing relationship between Israel and the US. Starting in 1939, he traces the causes and behind the scenes negotiations required to resolve Israel's major conflicts with it neighbours. Generally, it is an unsettling picture fraught with intrigue and manipulation; and most distressing, frequently not in Israel's best interest. It also makes clear why peace may be generations away, if ever, and why even Israel's closest/strongest allies may not be as reliable as one would hope. Over and over, Danon demonstrates how external influences have repeatedly deprived Israel of completing operations essential to establishing its safety, security, and effective deterrence; which he believes continues to the present day. His discussion in this section sets the stage for the final section of the book.
 
Part 3, A Road Map for Jewish Victory,  is the most contentious section of the book. He opens by briefly and succinctly reviewing the 3500 year historic justification for Israel. He then offers a new path starting in the subsection entitled, “The Two-State Mistake”. Danon will of course be accused of being unrealistic and naive, but may well reflect what many (perhaps younger) Israelis think. Unfortunately, he only leaves the final 20 pages to describe his plan; which while perhaps not entirely new, does significantly change the narrative. Implementing it would of course be another thing all together. Before concluding his ideas are unjustified, it is best to read the entire book. 
 
The book is full of obscure and intriguing facts never or rarely reported and adds anticipation to the reading. For example, the 2011 Supreme Court brief in which Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton states, “...any American action, even symbolically, towards recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel must be avoided....”. Or while discussing the 1973 Yom Kippur War, reveals that Moshe Dayan at one point was so “disheartened” in the early days of the War, that he nearly announced, “the downfall of the 'Third Temple'”.

In summary, the book exudes Danon's love for and pride in Israel and it is hard not to be compelled by his sincerity and evidence. This is a very readable fact-based book from a person “in-the-know” with access most do not have. It is full of interesting facts and examples. Danon does a reasonable job at taking a very complex topic and making it understandable (though some may argue too simplistic). His extensive use of examples, without excessive detail, makes it a quick and informative read; a good text for someone preparing to answer basic questions. Best of all, at least for now, it is very timely and current, but this could be short-lived given how events unfold in the Middle East.

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.