Fortress Israel

Recommendation: Worth the read, don’t be put off by the heft

Where to read: Somewhere soundproof

Read with: Pinot

In brief: A fairly damning portrayal of Israel’s overly militaristic, profoundly aggressive approach to international relations


I defy anyone to get through this without wanting to start throwing things at a wall. Tragic, broadly compassionate and genuinely well-written, it makes the argument that Israel is a profoundly paranoid, tribalist, militaristic society with, at best, latent democratic tendencies and a deep vein of institutionalised hypocrisy.

I do question Tyler’s focus on the attitudes of political and military elites to the almost complete exclusion of all other factors (although US-Israeli relations do get a good airing). It hammers its point home but the lack of context raises serious questions about the extent to which his thesis oversimplifies the situation.

Like many journalists who turn their pens to longer forms, he adopts a somewhat episodic structure with the result that you sometimes feel like you’re reading a series of articles, dispatches and interviews cobbled together in a broadly chronological order. This certainly adds depth, and often humanity, to the narrative but can leave one a little hazy on timelines and causative links.

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