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Constantly in the news, Israel is associated with commandos, terrorists, and the machinations of high politics and diplomacy. But the visitor to that country finds that Burger Kings and congested highways present a quite different picture. Garfinkle attempts to close this dichotomy between international profile and mundane reality in what he explicitly acknowledges to be a "primer." Written for an American audience, his book informs without overloading details, is clearly written, and equally adept at discussing such matters as the buildup to the 1967 War or relating a humorous anecdote on the slowness of Israeli mail.

The final chapter on peace and normalcy is perhaps most interesting. While pessimistic that a final settlement will be reached with either the Palestinians or Syria, Garfinkle argues that internally Israel must cope with the twin effects of a decreased threat from abroad and increased wealth. One possible consequence he foresees concerns the growing secular-religious divide in Israel, raising the possibility that a Jewish people united in exile could become divided in Israel. As for the diaspora, with North American Jews assimilating at a fast clip, Garfinkle sees Israel as becoming the center of the Jewish world that the early Zionists always envisioned.