The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

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  1. The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict
  2. The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict
  3. About The Transforming Fire
  4. The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict: Jonathan Spyer: Continuum

But can the same be said when it comes to understanding Israelis themselves? Thankfully, Jonathan Spyer has given us a groundbreaking — and heartfelt — contribution that bridges the divide. His recently published work, The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict, is a masterful analysis of the changing dynamics in the never-ending war against Israel, as seen through the lens of one Zionist who was nearly killed in a tank in Lebanon.

The Transforming Fire centres on the thesis that the war to annihilate Israel has recently shifted from one of Arab nationalism or pan-Arabism into one propelled by radical Islamic theology pan-Islamism. If this is the case, as the evidence affirms, the consequences are enormous. Take the land-for-peace formula derived from UN Resolution , which conceives that in return for recognition, peace and security guarantees from the Arab world, Israel would cede territories captured in As Spyer rightly notes, radical Islamic theology is not rooted in the same pragmatic parameters of those former belligerents governed by a pan-Arabist perspective.

The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

Today, we are faced with a transnational Islamist cause that can neither be dissuaded by Western carrots and sticks, nor satisfied with anything less than total victory over the Jewish state. From their perspective, how can one negotiate away any piece of something that, by definition, cannot accommodate another sovereign power?

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Smoking cigarettes in a Jerusalem bar just hours after returning exhausted from Lebanon — and overhearing an Arab journalist voicing his support for Hezbollah. Holding conversations about what it means to be a Zionist with the family of Alon Smoha, a gregarious tank commander killed in an ambush the author barely survived. It is through these anecdotes that Spyer brings us into the minds and homes of real Israelis. In so doing, Spyer points to a phenomenon within Israel that many have noted, but few have articulated with as much insight.

The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict

And yet, the New Jerusalem is very much willing to make painful concessions for peace — if only there were a reliable partner on the other side. Rather, Israelis increasingly see themselves as a modern incarnation of an ancient, unique nation — a response to the totality of Jewish history, rather than the devastations of the pogroms and the Holocaust. Yes, statelessness renders the Jewish people defenseless, and history is replete with its devastating results. The culmination of two thousand years of exile, statehood has been an extraordinary blessing for the Jewish people and the entire world.

About The Transforming Fire

The benefits are incalculable, and we are fortunate beyond words to be living in this era. But statehood has not solved the issue of anti-Semitism — because the answer to that question lies in something much deeper within man.


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Certainly it will not be solved by the issues of sovereignty, borders, and international recognition. That said, it appears that the new Israeli mainstream is right. Notify me of new comments via email.

The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict: Jonathan Spyer: Continuum

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