How Long Will Israel Survive?

The Threat From Within

August 2017 9781849048040 256pp


Israel is surrounded by an array of ever-changing threats. But what if its most serious challenge comes from within?

There was once a national consensus in Israeli society: despite a left-right political split, its people were broadly secular and liberal. Over the past decade, the country has fractured into tribes with little shared understanding of what it means to be a Zionist—let alone an Israeli—and contesting the very notion of a ‘Jewish and democratic’ state.

While this shift has profound implications for Israel’s relationship with the broadly liberal Jewish diaspora, the greatest consequences will be felt at home. Israel’s tribes increasingly lead separate lives; even the army, once a great melting-pot, is now a political and cultural battleground. Tamir Pardo, former head of Mossad, has warned of the risk of civil war.

Gregg Carlstrom maps this conflict, from cosmopolitan Tel Aviv to the hilltops of the West Bank, and asks a pressing question: will the Middle East’s strongest power survive its own internal contradictions?



‘Useful primer for those seeking to understand Israeli politics and society. [Carlstrom’s] “threat from within” is the rise of right-wing and ultra-religious trends that put a strain on the ties that bind Israel.’ — David Aaronovitch, The Times

‘Carlstrom’s engrossing book doesn’t trade in dire warnings but offers a sobering look at contemporary Israel and its future.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘Carlstrom considers a near-term future in which Israel is destroyed — not by external enemies but instead torn apart by civil war. … A provocative, highly readable view of a nation that seems headed for more trouble, this time from within.’ — Kirkus Reviews

‘Readable and refreshingly straightforward … [Carlstrom] gives the reader a lot of facts to ponder.’ — The Jordan Times

‘Engaging . . . a comprehensive overview of sociopolitical divisions in Israel today.’ — Choice

‘Offers insight into the current state of Israeli domestic affairs and raises questions concerning the potential ways in which these new divisions could significantly impact the
country’s future.’ — Middle East Journal

‘Provides a vivid and up-to-date account… [of] Israel’s survival in recent decades.’ — Journal of Modern Jewish Studies

‘This is an accessible and generally interesting read . . . [Carlstrom’s] prose is unfailingly crisp and winning . . . the book contains some good stories and Carlstrom knows how to tell them.’ — Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs

‘How Long Will Israel Survive is an X-ray examination of a critically ill Western democracy. Gregg Carlstrom clearly shows that the blood vessels of Israel’s democracy are narrowing due to heavy social tensions and the cost of occupying the Palestinians. This book is a rare look into the same processes that in the twentieth century created Apartheid in South Africa and central Europe’s authoritarian regimes.’ — Menachem Klein, senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, Israel; author of Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron

‘By turning the lens on Israel and shedding light on the impulses that are tearing the country apart, Gregg Carlstrom sheds new light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. How Long Will Israel Survive lays bare a number of myths about Zionism, the occupation, and settlements. This nuanced, thoughtful, and deeply researched book is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand Israel and its broader conflicts.’ — Mya Guarnieri Jaradat, author of The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others

‘A damning indictment of modern day Israel that rightly condemns its descent into permanent occupation over the Palestinian people. What this means for the Jewish people, in Israel and the Diaspora, as well as the Palestinians, should be compulsory reading for anybody who still harbours any illusions about the real agenda of Israel.’ — Antony Loewenstein, independent journalist and author of My Israel Question and Disaster Capitalism: Making A Killing Out Of Catastrophe

‘Well written, topical and hard hitting, this accessible, passionate and challenging book intersperses the personal and professional experiences of the author with the history and politics of Israeli society. Carlstrom has a strong opinion on what has gone wrong and what needs to be done. He deserves a wide audience for this work.’ — Rory Miller, Professor of Government at Georgetown University, Qatar

‘Gregg Carlstrom gives us a closely reported picture of Israel as it is today: more in danger from internal threats to its democracy and its identity than from any outside enemy. This book asks all the important questions about Israel’s future.’ — Gershom Gorenberg, senior correspondent for The American Prospect and author of The Unmaking of IsraelThe Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977; and The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount


Gregg Carlstrom is a correspondent for The Times and The Economist, based in Tel Aviv. He contributes to a number of other publications, including The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, New York magazine and others. He was previously based in Cairo, and before that as a Doha-based reporter for Al Jazeera English, covering the region from Tunisia to Iraq. He was born in New York and graduated from Northwestern University.

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