American-born West Bank settler Rapaport has compiled a set of letters he wrote to his family and friends from January 1987 to February 1996 while jailed in Tel Mond Prison. His incarceration resulted from a planned act of terrorism: in 1982, Rapaport was instrumental in bombing the car of Bassam Shaka, a PLO supporter and mayor of the Arab town of Nablus, which blew off Shaka's legs. Rapaport subsequently fled to the United States, where he remained for five years before returning to Israel and arrest. An ultranationalist and fervently religious man, he was an intellectual follower of Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook and later an activist and leader in an underground movement of Jewish settlers opposed to the Israeli government's attempt to remove them in favor of a politically motivated agreement with neighboring Arab states. The author shows no remorse for his act of violence and justifies his behavior on religious grounds. While Rapaport's book serves as a companion to Haggai Segal's Dear Brothers (Beit-Shamai, 1988), his politics is explained best by Ehud Sprinzak's The Ascendance of Israel's Radical Right (Oxford Univ., 1991). Recommended for those interested in understanding communal violence.Sanford R. Silverburg, Catawba Coll., Salisbury, N.C.
A brutally honest and deeply personal apologia from an American-born
Jew convicted of a terrorist act on behalf of the Israeli settlement
movement. Rapaport's letters provide first hand insight into the
motivation and development of a person capable of political violence.
The letters to friends, family, and those who criticized him for his
terrorist act span 20 years and chronicle his role in the Israeli
struggle to settle the West Bank. They show the process by which
Rapaport reached his decision to plant the bomb. No index.
Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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 sniperShaka was a member of the PLO's National Guidance Committeeand 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.