At the edge of a different continent, defending – as its apologists aver – its own ethnic and religious heritage from its (racialised) enemy, the analogue of Israel’s “fortress state” is almost unmissable. If this fact has taken a long time to encroach on Western consciousness, it is in part a testament to the efforts of the state’s defenders, as they engage in similar attempts to turn their backs on history.

Yet, as pre-eminent Israel- Palestine scholar Norman Finkelstein points out in Knowing Too Much, encroached it has – and with it, an awareness of Israel’s abysmal human rights record, its history of unrestrained belligerence towards its neighbours, and its increasingly racist and reactionary political culture.

Like the South African Apartheid state it echoes, Israel has been steeped in a culture of racism and denial since its inception. Western Jewish progressives seeking the heralded utopian socialism of the kibbutzim routinely found their eagerness and curiosity dashed on the harsh realities of the early Zionist state. As historian Tony Judt described his experiences as a military translator during the June 1967 war.

Read the full review in the New Left Project

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