BEYOND THE PROMISED LAND
Jews and Arabs on a Hard Road to
a New Israel
By Glenn Frankel
Simon & Schuster 416pp $24
In Beyond the Promised Land, Glenn Frankel, ex-Jerusalem bureau chief for The Washington Post, provides us with a great deal of reportage, some of it interesting. But somehow Frankel, who won a Pulitzer for his Mideast coverage, fails to forge the details into the larger structure needed to deliver a clear portrait of the "new Israel" promised by the subtitle. The book reads like a lot of newspaper and wire dispatches spliced together, and that grows tiresome.
Frankel's big theme is that the harrowing experiences of the uprising in the Occupied Territories and the Iraqi Scud attacks during the gulf war have made Israelis realize that they won't have a bright future unless they make peace with Arab neighbors. At the same time, he says, the Palestinians have undergone a similar change in attitude. So a new Israel is emerging that will be able to focus more on business and trade than on fighting for survival.
Frankel is probably right. But he gives us mostly the old Israel: endless details about Palestinian-Israeli disputes, Israeli political intrigue, and U.S.-Israeli relations. Anyone who has read a decent newspaper over the past 10 years will find lots of this familiar.
There is surprisingly little on the new Israel of entrepreneurs and technology companies. Frankel has some good material on younger Israeli political leaders, such as Haim Ramon, who has been leading a rebellion in the Labor Party, and Likud counterparts such as Ehud Olmert, who ousted Teddy Kollek, the legendary mayor of Jerusalem.
Just now, however, Frankel's cautious mptimism seems decidedly off-key. It may be that he wrote the book too soon. The peace process is in the midst of a setback, and the old stories--terrorism and other violence--dominate the news. Frankel himself has worried in the Post that the kind of chaos that engulfs Lebanon might take over Israeli life.