Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Lega­cy of the Six-Day War

Mic­ah Good­man; Eylon Levy, trans.
  • Review
By – September 3, 2018

In Catch-67, already a best­seller in Israel, Mic­ah Good­man con­vinc­ing­ly argues that although each side of the Israeli polit­i­cal divide believes they know the path to solv­ing the Pales­tin­ian prob­lem,” both are incor­rect. But at the same time, in their own ways, they are each also cor­rect; that is what makes the issue so intractable.

Trac­ing the ide­o­log­i­cal shift from the lib­er­al right to its cur­rent mes­sian­ic-tinged con­ser­v­a­tive out­look empha­siz­ing Israel’s need for mil­i­tar­i­ly-defen­si­ble bor­ders, along­side the left­’s shift from social­ism to hold­ing diplo­ma­cy and human rights as its dri­ving val­ues, Good­man demon­strates the philo­soph­i­cal valid­i­ty of both sides’ arguments.

Where­as in the tech­no­log­i­cal sphere, Israeli cul­ture active­ly encour­ages mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives and open dia­logue — a per­spec­tive that has result­ed in the renowned accom­plish­ments of the Start-up Nation” — when it comes to the Pales­tini­ans, Good­man laments, this prag­mat­ic and col­lab­o­ra­tive atti­tude is absent. The inabil­i­ty to tru­ly hear the oth­er’s line of rea­son­ing, and con­sid­er the iden­ti­ty-relat­ed issues their argu­ments emerge from, he argues, hin­ders the abil­i­ty to pro­pose solu­tions that may lead to a path forward.

Good­man con­fi­dent­ly and artic­u­late­ly address­es con­tro­ver­sial top­ics includ­ing the demo­graph­ic threat Israel’s Arab pop­u­la­tion pos­es to the cur­rent Jew­ish major­i­ty; the argu­ments with­in Jew­ish law over how the valu­ing of human life impacts ter­ri­to­r­i­al con­ces­sions; the for­ma­tion of a Judeo-Mus­lim” nar­ra­tive in place of a Judeo-Chris­t­ian one; and the accu­sa­tions that Israel’s treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans makes it an occu­py­ing, colo­nial­ist and apartheid state. Good­man sep­a­rates fact from fic­tion, even-hand­ed­ly pre­sent­ing the case for rea­son­able argu­ments, and dis­miss­ing those which lack legal, polit­i­cal or his­tor­i­cal justification.

Based on con­sul­ta­tions with mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal lead­ers from both sides of Israel’s polit­i­cal spec­trum, as well as Pales­tini­ans, Good­man coura­geous­ly sug­gests two tem­po­rary ini­tia­tives that would neces­si­tate con­ces­sions for all involved. He sees this as a step in the direc­tion of even­tu­al peace, with­out ask­ing any stake­hold­ers to for­go their core ide­o­log­i­cal beliefs.

Good­man con­cludes with a call for a return to the Tal­mu­dic val­ue of con­struc­tive debate with­in Israeli soci­ety — one based on argu­ing, to be sure, but also based on the val­ue of lis­ten­ing to the oth­er side.

Dr. Stu Halpern is Senior Advi­sor to the Provost of Yeshi­va Uni­ver­si­ty. He has edit­ed or coedit­ed 17 books, includ­ing Torah and West­ern Thought: Intel­lec­tu­al Por­traits of Ortho­doxy and Moder­ni­ty and Books of the Peo­ple: Revis­it­ing Clas­sic Works of Jew­ish Thought, and has lec­tured in syn­a­gogues, Hil­lels and adult Jew­ish edu­ca­tion­al set­tings across the U.S.

Discussion Questions