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News, commentary, criticism, and reaction about the Kerry-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Mission are being written in great volume from every perspective within Israel and amongst the Palestinians. Among the most important pieces in recent days are these three that I recommend you read:

1. A Jew-Free Palestine – by Rabbi Donniel Hartman, Times of Israel

A superb and thoughtful analysis of the meaning of the West Bank settlements and their role in the future of the state of Israel. Rabbi Hartman says that Israel must now decide whether it wishes to be a Jewish democratic state or not.  http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/a-jew-free-palestine

2. Tension Builds in Israeli Coalition at a Critical Juncture in Peace Talks, by Jodi Rudoren, NYT

Where is Prime Minister Netanyahu vis a vis a two-state solution? Though his rhetoric is clearly in favor, his taking the hard decisions necessary to effect a concrete agreement will necessarily alienate his historic political allies. If he is serious, his compromises will reveal the extent of his political courage, which most Israelis do not believe he has. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/30/world/middleeast/israel.html?src=rechp

3. Israel Needs to Learn Some Manners – by Avi Shlaim, NYT

Avi Shlaim is an Iraqi-born British/Israeli historian and emeritus professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford. He is part of a group of Israeli scholars who have put forward critical interpretations of Israel and the history of Zionism (per Wikipedia). Shlaim takes Israeli right-wing government officials to task for their blatant, arrogant and dangerous treatment of Israel’s most important ally saying that these Israeli leaders (e.g. Defense Minister Yaalon, Likud leader Danon, and Bayit Hayehudi leader Bennett, among others) give chutzpah a bad name. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/31/opinion/israel-needs-to-learn-some-manners.html?src=rechp

Finally, I recommend “My Promised Land – The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel” by Ari Shavit (see review – Tuesday, January 14).

Shavit’s in-depth consideration of key events and phenomena that have shaped the history of Zionism and the state of Israel constitutes the most important and honest book to come out of Israel in the last 25 years. This volume will inform and provoke you, inspire you and break your heart. After reading it, your understanding will be far deeper about the meaning of the Jewish democratic state of Israel in modern Jewish history. In addition, his book will challenge your identity as a Jew, whether you live in Israel as a citizen of the state or in the Diaspora.