LETTERS FROM TEL MOND PRISON: An Israeli Settler Defends His Act of Terror

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9780684831800: LETTERS FROM TEL MOND PRISON: An Israeli Settler Defends His Act of Terror
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Poignant letters written home while in an Israeli prison reveal the story of a man born in Brooklyn who ended up a mayor on the West Bank, and who, after attempting coexistence with his Arab neighbors, participated in the bombing of a PLO official's car.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A first-person introduction to the mindset of the ``Jewish underground'' from a member who was involved in the notorious 1980 car bombing that blew off the legs of Nablus mayor Bassam Shaka. Why would an Orthodox Jew from America, a social worker and father of six children, engage in such an act? In part, Rapaport saw it as an act of reprisal for the murder of six Jewish students in Hebron by a PLO sniper--Shaka was a member of the PLO's National Guidance Committee--and enraged frustration at the Israeli government's perceived failure to act firmly against Palestinian terrorists in ``YOSH'' (the Hebrew acronym for Judaea and Samaria, or the West Bank). Rapaport also fervently believes that Jews' right to settle in YOSH is absolute, that violence is justified by historical claims to the land, and that history is rooted in God's promise of Israel to Abraham as recorded in Genesis. It never seems to occur to him that the Palestinians might have their own personal and historical claims to the West Bank. Very few of the letters printed here, which span the years from 1975 to 1996, really attempt to defend Rapaport's violent vigilantism. Most deal with the author's commitment to settlement (``We are acting in the name of and for an entire people'') and great love of his wife, children, and parents. Concerning the attack on Shaka, he apparently feels no ideological or moral qualms. In the last letter here, he even expresses ``understanding'' of (although he does not favor) the actions of Baruch Goldstein, the murderer of over 30 Palestinians in Hebron in 1994, and Yigal Amir, the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin. Though it initially crackles with ideological fervor, his prose ultimately becomes numbing, with a one- dimensional self-righteousness. One wonders why Helmreich (Sociology and Judaic Studies/City College of New York), who contributes a balanced introduction, chose so many of these letters, when a work half as long would have adequately presented Rapaport's constricted worldview. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Publishers Weekly:

Winner of a National Jewish Book Award, these impassioned, self-righteous letters offer an unsettling look into the mind of a terrorist. Raised as an Orthodox Jew in Brooklyn, Rapaport was a civil rights worker, graduated from Yeshiva University, became a social worker, studied in Israel in 1966 and worked as a medic in the Six-Day War. In 1971 he married a native-born Zionist and they moved to the West Bank with the aim of establishing the first permanent Jewish settlement in Samaria in nearly 2000 years. In 1980 Rapaport helped plant car bombs targeting Arab mayors; one of them blew off the legs of Bassam Shaka, mayor of Nablus, described here as a PLO terrorist who openly encouraged massacres of Jews and secretly organized the stoning and firebombing of Jews' cars. After five years as a fugitive in the U.S., Rapaport was arrested, and in these letters, mostly written from prison, he writes lovingly to his wife and six children, and spars with his critics, staunchly defending his violent deeds even as he wrestles with his conscience and God?which makes this document all the more disturbing. Now mayor of the settlement town of Shilo, Rapaport also includes letters from early 1996 expressing his deep skepticism about the Israeli-Arab peace agreement. Helmreich, professor of sociology and Judaic studies at City College of New York, sympathetically views Rapaport's act as part of a cycle of escalating terrorism fueled by a combustible mix of protest, religion and nationalistic ideology.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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