cover image A Little Too Close to God: The Thrills and Panic of a Life in Israel

A Little Too Close to God: The Thrills and Panic of a Life in Israel

David Horovitz. Alfred A. Knopf, $27.5 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-375-40381-1

The editor of the Jerusalem Report (an English-language news magazine published in Israel), Horovitz is at his best when describing his mixed feelings about raising his family in the Israeli cauldron. Indeed, one of the most moving parts of this book is the introductory chapter, as Horovitz--who immigrated to Israel from Britain in the early 1980s, soon after high school--describes his reaction to hearing that terrorists had bombed one of his favorite lunch spots a day after he ate there with friends. He is in touch with the strong sense of community--what he calls the ""cocoon""--that keeps his family from leaving the country. With the help of his keen journalistic eye and a witty writing style, he concentrates on the pressures that persistently pervade the cocoon. These pressures affect day-to-day decisions, sometimes in seemingly absurd ways: Horovitz describes how he and his wife have told their children how to respond in case terrorism occurs near them. Horovitz devotes much of the book to the difficulties of the stumbling peace process--which he and his wife strongly support--and on the increasing fragmentation of Israeli society as epitomized by the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. As the book's title implies, Horovitz, a liberal, secular Jew, has little stomach for the views of Israel's hard-liners, who oppose territorial compromise with its Arab neighbors. But while partisan, the book is no polemic. With the help of an Orthodox cousin and a brother-in-law who lives in the West Bank, Horovitz lays out the arguments for and against reconciliation with the Arab world. He's managed to write an engaging book that introduces the reader to the personal struggles emanating from the conflict in the Middle East. (May)