Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


‘New Yorker’ on Gaza: ‘A Dystopian Atlantis’

Increasingly isolated, despairing society, with Shalit as metaphor

Print Email
Shalit holding a Gaza newspaper in a video shown on Israeli TV last month.(Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

This week’s New Yorker features an extremely grim story about the deterioration of Gaza by Lawrence Wright, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning (and extremely grim) study of al-Qaida, The Looming Tower. In Wright’s telling, the seven-mile-wide strip of land has, thanks to the Israeli blockade that’s been in place since 2007 and Hamas’s increasing draconianism, become “a floating island, a dystopian Atlantis, drifting farther away from contact with any other society” including the relatively well-integrated West Bank. And that was even before the war last winter that destroyed much of the area’s remaining infrastructure. Hovering over it all is the image of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier captured in 2007 who has become a major bargaining chip for Hamas and a kind of Helen of Troy figure for Israel. Indeed, Wright argues, Israel may have invaded Gaza partly in an attempt to steal him back. “Shalit is presumed to be alive, and his plight has driven Israel slightly mad,” Wright writes, noting reports that during Operation Cast Lead, the IDF’s fear of producing another Shalit was so intense that some commanders told soldiers to kill themselves if they were captured by Hamas. “Though it may seem perverse,” Wright adds, Gazans too feel a sense of identification with the captured soldier, whose pale face adorns menacing Hamas billboards: they “see themselves as like Shalit: confined, mistreated, and despairing.”

Captives [NYer]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

‘New Yorker’ on Gaza: ‘A Dystopian Atlantis’

Increasingly isolated, despairing society, with Shalit as metaphor

More on Tablet:

Cancer, As We Know It

By Stephanie Butnick — Our coverage of the illness is raw, inspiring, scientific, sad, historical, and familial. Have a look.