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Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nationby Yossi K Halevi
Synopses & Reviews
In June 1967, Israel achieved the unimaginable—a decisive victory against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria in the Six-Day War. The most symbolic triumph for the young nation was the reunification of Israeli West Jerusalem and Jordanian East Jerusalem, achieved at great cost by a group of paratroopers from the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade. In restoring Jewish sovereignty to the Holy City, these men fulfilled the dream of two millennia, changing the history of Israel and of the Middle East. And as veteran journalist Yossi Klein Halevi shows in Like Dreamers, they played pivotal roles in shaping Israel's destiny long after their resounding military success.
A masterful storyteller, Halevi tracks down seven members of the 55th Brigade and traces their lives through the decades following the Six-Day War. But as his narrative reveals, despite the intensity of their shared experience protecting Israel, in their postwar paths they nurture drastically divergent visions for the country's future. Yoel Bin-Nun emerges at the forefront of the religious Zionist West Bank settlement movement, but Arik Achmon—the chief intelligence officer of the 55th—becomes a spiritual father of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. Achmon becomes a driving force in the growth of Israel's capitalist economy, whereas Avital Geva, in addition to building a reputation as a leading conceptual artist, ardently defends the socialist kibbutzim. And while Geva is among the foremost activists in Peace Now, Udi Adiv helps create an anti-Zionist terror underground in Damascus, eventually serving twelve years in an Israeli prison.
Charting the ideological differences among this band of brothers, Halevi weaves a nuanced and insightful chronicle of modern Israel. His fascinating, diligently researched examination of each man's motivations and actions—supported by extensive interviews with their friends, family members, and comrades-in-arms—humanizes the country 's complex political landscape, facilitating a deeper understanding of the forces that influence its evolution as a state.
"American-Israeli author and journalist Halevi (Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist) traces the personal and religious lives and evolving political views of seven paratroopers who helped conquer the Old City of Jerusalem during the1967 Six Day War. They prove a remarkably diverse group: one joins an anti-Zionist movement and is lured into working for Syrian intelligence; another helps found the right-wing settlement movement Gush Emunim; and a third becomes his generation's most iconoclastic, if underappreciated, songwriter. Halevi traces his subjects' involvement with, and their country's shifting moods during, key post-1967 events like the Yom Kippur War and the (first) Lebanon War, the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement, the 1995 assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and the beginning of the second Palestinian Intifada. He skillfully relates lesser-known events — such as the January 1995 Beit Lid bombing — and conveys the ever-changing nature of Israeli culture and religious life. He also succinctly evinces the national psychology when he writes that 'in Israel, no trauma was ever really forgotten, only replaced by a new trauma.' Halevi's book is executed with imagination, narrative drive, and, above all, deep empathy for a wide variety of Israelis, and the result is a must-read for anyone with an interest in contemporary Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Winner of the Everett Family Jewish Book of the Year Award (a National Jewish Book Award) and the RUSA Sophie Brody Medal.
In Like Dreamers, acclaimed journalist Yossi Klein Halevi interweaves the stories of a group of 1967 paratroopers who reunited Jerusalem, tracing the history of Israel and the divergent ideologies shaping it from the Six-Day War to the present.
Following the lives of seven young members from the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade, the unit responsible for restoring Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem, Halevi reveals how this band of brothers played pivotal roles in shaping Israels destiny long after their historic victory. While they worked together to reunite their country in 1967, these men harbored drastically different visions for Israels future.
One emerges at the forefront of the religious settlement movement, while another is instrumental in the 2005 unilateral withdrawal from Gaza. One becomes a driving force in the growth of Israels capitalist economy, while another ardently defends the socialist kibbutzim. One is a leading peace activist, while another helps create an anti-Zionist terror underground in Damascus.
Featuring an eight pages of black-and-white photos and maps, Like Dreamers is a nuanced, in-depth look at these diverse men and the conflicting beliefs that have helped to define modern Israel and the Middle East.
About the Author
Yossi Klein Halevi is the Israel correspondent for the New Republic and a senior writer for the Jerusalem Report. He is a regular commentator on Middle Eastern and religious affairs for the Los Angeles Times and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other publications. The documentary film Kaddish, which focuses on his relationship with his father, a Holocaust survivor, was named by the Village Voice as one of the ten best films of 1985.
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