Robert Herbst, ICAHD USA Co-Chair , interviews Sylvain Cypel
Sylvain Cypel’s “The State of Israel vs. The Jews” shows how bereft of human decency Israelis have become in their treatment of Palestinians, and how much Jewish moral patrimony has been given up in creating, supporting, and tolerating a Jewish State.
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Extract from Robert’s review of “The State of Israel vs. The Jews”
Author Sylvain Cypel is a French Jewish journalist who has lived for years in New York and Israel and Paris, including as senior editor for Le Monde. His socialist, Zionist, Ukrainian-Polish father fled to France in 1938 before the Nazis wiped out his entire family and almost all their Jewish neighbors, and ultimately led the French Zionist labor movement. Cypel, my contemporary at 74, grew up in that movement, went to Israel after high school in Paris, was drafted and served in the IDF paratroop brigade, and returned to France a committed Zionist, until he returned to Israel to attend University in 1969 – the same year I went to Israel for the first time. He, too, was struck by the Jewish nationalistic and colonialist attitudes he found there, with his fellow students talking about the Palestinians “exactly the same way” French settlers talked about the Algerian Arabs before Algeria’s successful war of independence.
As Cypel transformed from Zionist to anti-Zionist, he was punished. “As I became an increasingly active anti-Zionist, my life in Israel got harder. My wife and I were ostracized because of our beliefs, and we lost jobs. Paradoxically, I had many Israeli friends, some of whom vehemently disagreed with me. At the time, that was still possible. It isn’t anymore.” Then in time, “the yawning gap between the promise and the reality of Zionism” drove him away from Israel. He saw that it was “evolving into something no idealist could stomach: a racist, bullying little superpower.” After the May 2018 Gaza fence massacre, he determined to write this book, focusing on what has become of Israeli society, which he takes apart mercilessly but truly.