Most Americans are familiar with what the media has dubbed the “War on Women,” or Congress’ relentless attacks against many basic women’s rights. Fewer know that Israel is also suffering from a resurgence of conservative ideologies and consequent rollback of feminist gains. In her book The War on Women in Israel: How Religious Radicalism is Smothering the Voice of a Nation, Elana Maryles Sztokman exposes many gendered issues within Israel, delivers a spot-on analysis of the underlying reasons for the inequalities, and proposes creative solutions to build a more inclusive society.
I feel that the book is enhanced by Sztokman’s overall love of Israel. As a dedicated Zionist, I often struggle when I feel the need to critique my homeland, since I fear that those in the anti-Israel camp will twist my words and use them for their own nefarious purposes. However, it is important that we who support Israel without fail do not try to cover up its rough edges; otherwise, we cannot hope to perfect the Zionist dream. In The War on Women in Israel, Sztokman shows that one can be a committed Zionist, even one who lives in Israel and has children serving in the Israel Defense Forces, but still agitate for change within Israeli society.