In April, the southern Israeli town of Sderot hosted its eighth annual French film festival, which was an achievement more impressive than it sounds. Sderot is a small town, and it is also a poor one; it has only 20,000 residents, many of them immigrants from former Soviet Asian republics. But Sderot’s biggest challenge may be the missiles. For the past ten years, not long after the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, Hamas has launched thousands of Qassam missiles over the border from Gaza, barely a mile away.
That the State of Israel has an ethnicity problem is the opposite of news: hardly a day goes by without some report on the hostilities between Jews and Arabs. But We Look Like the Enemy, the impassioned, often self-righteous new book by Rachel Shabi, draws the reader's attention to an easily overlooked dimension of that old conflict. What if you are an Israeli Jew who is also, in some ways, an Arab?
Earlier this month, Joe the Plumber Wurzelbacher--last seen serving as the third wheel on John McCain and Sarah Palin's increasingly disastrous blind date--traded in his toilet jack for a handheld microphone and traveled to the Middle East to become a foreign correspondent covering the Israel-Hamas war for the conservative website Pajamas Media. Alas, he wasn't terribly impressed with his new colleagues. "I think media should be abolished from, you know, reporting," Wurzelbacher said in the Israeli city of Sderot, where he was, from all appearances, reporting. "You know, war is hell.