Sohrab Armari of The Wall Street Journal reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
The title of Yossi Klein Halevi's "Like Dreamers" alludes to the 126th Psalm: "When the Lord returned the exiles of Zion, we were like dreamers."
It captures perfectly the wonder and pride Israel's 55th Paratroop Brigade felt upon capturing Jerusalem during the Six Day War of 1967. Thanks to the men of the 55th, Jews controlled the holy city for the first time since the days of the Biblical kings, and their international image was transformed from concentration-camp victims into fierce Israeli soldiers.
Mr. Halevi, an Israeli journalist, followed seven of those men for more than a decade, beginning in the early 2000s. His richly drawn group portrait of them opens a fascinating, personal window onto the modern Jewish state, its triumph and tragedy.
Almost as soon as they achieved victory in 1967, the paratroopers, like the rest of Israeli society, divided sharply over what to do with the spoils. Some, like Yoel bin Nun and Yisrael Harel, came to believe that the Jewish state has a duty to control and settle Judea and Samaria, or the modern West Bank, where much of the story of the Hebrew Bible takes place. Others came to the opposite conclusion: that Israel must trade the lands it had conquered in exchange for peace with the Arabs.
The settler movement and the peace camp have both had a tremendous impact on Israel. With compassion and moral imagination, Mr. Halevi helps us see why each side came to the conclusions that it did. In the process, he gives us an unforgettable taste of what he calls "the agonizing complexity of Israel's dilemmas."
For more Wall Street Journal book reviews, check out opinionjournal.com, and be sure to pick up the Weekend Journal this Saturday featuring our double Books issue of fall reading.