The contradiction in Israel is, the ordinary Jewish citizens are a preferred lot over their Arab compatriots. Along with the rigid religious establishment, a thriving lesbian and gay community exists. In this book, Donna Rosenthal, has taken pains to interview a heterogeneous section of the people-- Jewish, Arab, men and women, secular and religious, with their fears and hopes, enthusiasm and disillusionment, willing acceptance of challenges and also expressing defiance…how Israel makes efforts to transform itself into an ultra-modern state, to stand shoulder to shoulder and challenge the world powers, to tell—not we also count—but better take us into account!
Nation building from the scratch is not an ordinary process. Striking a balance between the orthodox and ultra-modern of the same religious group is all the more difficult. Interaction between the two has to happen often. Rosenthal writes about the strange meetings thus: “An electrical engineer with a long ponytail is eating pasta with a bearded orthodox man in a knit kippa. At the salad bar, two women programmers chat in Russian.”(p.126) Immodestly dressed women in Jerusalem streets are abused by the orthodox. Rosenthal writes, “Some men wear their short, others dangle them below their ears. Signs in their haredi neighborhood warn women to dress modestly, not to expose much skin. Blouses cover them from collarbone to wrists.”(p.174) In the matter of worship the male-female division is enforced strictly. “In haredi and orthodox synagogues, men and women sit apart so they will not be distracted from prayers. In haredi synagogues, women sit in balconies or behind curtains.”(p.182) In the same city, you have modern entrepreneurs engaged in research for high-tech industrial products. Children of Bedouin families and Israeli Arab—both have problems in establishing their identities in a Jewish