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Book Review: 'Like Dreamers,' by Yossi Klein Halevi

The remarkable story of Israel's elite 55th Paratroop Brigade over the last four decades reads like a real-life version of Leon Uris's "Exodus."




Here's a great idea for a novel: Tell the story of modern Israel through heroic characters. Use some real individuals as models, but invent the details to build interest. Take history's dramatic stories—from the early Zionist movement to World War II, from the Holocaust to Israel's War of Independence in 1948—and present them from the perspective of actors who lived them.


7 Paratroopers and Paths They Took Through an Israel at a Crossroads

Yossi Klein Halevi’s ‘Like Dreamers’ Focuses on 1973 War




Much has been made over the years, and rightly so, of the messianic fervor that swept Israel after its spectacular victory in the 1967 war. The conquest of Sinai from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, all in a biblically epic six days, seemed to religious Israelis — and many secular ones — like a miracle, a sign that God wanted to reunite his people with their promised land. Not long afterward, settlement beyond the 1967 borders began.

How Israel’s Voice Became His Own

Yossi Klein Halevi tells the story of the war heroes who reunited Jerusalem and divided the nation




With “Like Dreamers,” due out Oct. 1, Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-born writer and journalist living in Jerusalem, has written a powerful and haunting book about the soul of modern Israel, focusing on the lives of seven Israelis, members of the famed 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade. These men helped reunite Jerusalem in the 1967 war and went on to become exemplars of the social, religious, political and cultural impulses that divided the country, from Peace Now to Gush Emunim, from Torah scholars to kibbutz leaders to a revered musician, Israel’s Bob Dylan.

Dreaming of unity, through the lens of Israeli paratroopers

Posted on September 22, 2013 by and filed under Book ReviewFeaturesIsrael.




Religious Zionism and the kibbutz movement, Israeli author and think-tanker Yossi Klein Halevi recently told me, are “the two messianic streams within Zionism that wanted more than just a safe refuge for the Jewish people.” In his estimation, those forces—as well as their internal struggle and their collective battle against the “normalizing” forces of Israeli society—have shaped Israeli history since the conclusion of the 1967 Six-Day War.


In “Like Dreamers,” a new book assessing the battle for Jerusalem and its legacy, Klein Halevi skillfully explores these intersecting forces by examining the brigade of Israeli paratroopers that reunited Israel’s capital.

Like Dreamers: The Story of the Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation

Yossi Klein Halevi. HarperCollins, $35 (608p) ISBN 978-0-06-054576-5


American-Israeli author and journalist Halevi (Memoirs of a Jewish Extremist) traces the personal and religious lives and evolving political views of seven paratroopers who helped conquer the Old City of Jerusalem during the1967 Six Day War. They prove a remarkably diverse group: one joins an anti-Zionist movement and is lured into working for Syrian intelligence; another helps found the right-wing settlement movement Gush Emunim; and a third becomes his generation’s most iconoclastic, if underappreciated, songwriter.

Still One Nation?

In tracing the postwar pathways of seven soldiers who reunited Jerusalem in ’67, Yossi Klein Halevi lays bare the fault lines that continue to define Israel.




American Jews aged 60 and over likely recall precisely where they were the morning of June 5, 1967. Following a month of daily Arab threats of annihilation, Israel launched a successful preemptive strike against Egypt. After Jordan rejected Israeli appeals to refrain from hostilities, Israel captured the West Bank and reunited Jerusalem. American Jewish ties with Israel in turn intensified greatly. The month-long experience of rhetorical echoes of the Holocaust preceding the war followed by Israel’s demonstrated capacity to defend itself evoked Jewish pride and cemented bonds of peoplehood.

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