on 28 July 2006
It's hard to find an unbiased view and account of this contentious topic. Happily I can report that this meets these criterions. The author is neither an Abdullah nor a Finkelman. The book is a complete day by day blow by blow account of the events from pre-partition to shortly after. What it is not is a history of the land and the problem. Do not expect to be any clearer on who is to blame or who has real claim to the land. I would have liked this, but this was not the aim of the book.
What you get is a gripping step by step story of who did what and when. I have no idea where they got such detailed information, or even how accurate it is, but regardless it makes for a great read. I would like the book to have gone on further and covered later events, but it never promised this so I can not complain.
Over all this is a great historical account. Certainly worth reading to lift some of the fog around partition, and its bloody events.
This monumental work is the most gripping and informative account I've read about the rebirth of Israel in 1948. Of course the focus is on Jerusalem and the text does not cover the war in Galilee or the South in any detail. The work includes the roles of famous persons and the experiences of ordinary people in equal measure.
Part 1: A Time To Mourn And A Time To Dance covers the UN decision in favour of partition, the Arab reaction, some background history - ancient Israel as well as the British Mandate period - and the various missions by both sides to procure arms.
Part 2: A House Divided, deals with the beginning of hostilities and unrest in the city, the deteriorating situation on the Tel Aviv- Jerusalem road, various horrific bombings of certain landmark buildings, the intensifying struggle for the city and the different Arab forces involved in the war.
Part 3: A City Besieged, concentrates on the harrowing struggle to hang on to the Jewish quarter of the old city from March 20 to May 13 of 1948. It includes an account of the tragic events at the village of Deir Yassin, the veracity of which is still in dispute today.
Part 4: These Shall Stand describes the movements of the various Arab forces and the Jewish response. It provides details of the Arab Legion attack on the city, Jewish counterattacks, the battle of Latrun, the loss of the Jewish quarter in the old city, and the building of a new road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Finally Israel was established but it would only regain the old city in 1967.
The Epilogue looks at the aftermath of the war of independence and takes stock of the terrible losses. The root of the refugeeproblem is explored and the author briefly deals with the transformation of the new Jewish State into a flourishing economic entity.
There are extensive explanatory notes arranged by chapter, a vast bibliography of books, articles, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers plus private documents and correspondence. The book concludes with an index.
On the inside front and back covers and in the text itself there are maps of Jerusalem and Israel, whilst the 40 pages of black and white plates encompass 60 photographs of people and places.
Both sides suffered terribly in this war. The authors succeed in being objective as regards the struggle between Jew and Arab, but it is clear that they consider the Haganah as the sole legitimate force on the Jewish side and they are openly hostile to the Irgun.
For more information on the refugee problem and demographic developments in the Holy Land before the Rebirth, I recommend From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters whilst political developments during the Mandate period is covered in The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorism by Chuck Morse.
O Jerusalem is a riveting read on many levels. It holds the reader's attention by dealing with events from the perspective of a wide spectrum of individuals. The narrative is often very sad and sensitive readers should be aware that certain passages are quite disturbing. But this book is probably the very best history of the Rebirth of Israel and the part Jerusalem played in this momentous event.
on 3 September 1998
One can nitpick -- vague timelines, some wrong presumptions -- but one cannot deny that this is a book which is long on fact and even longer on good storytelling. The authors have the usual "orientalist" anti-Arabism in the style of the book -- Arabs "swarm" and do "frenzied" things and are compared to locusts traveling at one point. The authors maintain a Labor Zionist emphasis, e.g. the Irgun and Lehi Zionists are called terrorists (please let the reader decide!) and it is clear that the LAbor Zionists are getting "home team" coverage, but the authors do not suppress certain facts, e.g. they do dispute as a result of their investigation the old (and today discarded) contention that Arabs fled as a result of an evacuation policy by Arab leaders and state more accurately that Arabs fled form fear of war, terroristic violence and forced expulsion. It also looks as if they talked to everyone, Jewish, Arab, and British who was there. A classic of popular history, by no means the last word, but certainly one of the best.
on 5 February 1999
I very much enjoyed this book. It was well-written and well-researched. I also thought the authors were fair to all parties concerned, especially the Jews and the Arabs. My husband made the comment that he had thought the Jews had won through organization but, after reading the book, he thought otherwise. I was surprised by the involvement of the British. Excellent book.
I came across this book when I was 15 , my father had a first edition in Spanish , and I have read many times since.
It is based on first hand interviews of the main characters involved in the 1947-1948 War of Israel independence and is very well balanced.
Because the Jews won the war the book is not very popular with Muslims.
The story startsin the United Nations with the key vote for the partition of Palestine in 2 states and follows the lifes , and deaths , of a number of key British , American , Palestine , Arabs and Jews thoughthe war.
The book describes incredible well the battles and desperate actions fought to the last bullet of the last man to hold the ground of which became the state of Israel.
The book is very well illustrated and includes multiple maps.
on 16 June 2008
This book documents the Jewish struggle to create the tiny state of Israel and the struggle of the Arabs and British to crush it, with particular focus on Jerusalem. It contains some interesting accounts and much interesting information, but it is not without its flaws.
Beginning with the decision at the United Nations at Flushing Meadow to accept the re-partition of the Land of Israel into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, and the violent Arab reaction, it leaves out the fact the Britain's Palestine Mandate of 1920, included what is now the State of Israel, the disputed territories (the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza) and Jordan.
In 1922 Transjordan (later Jordan) set up on three-fourths of Palestine, leaving one-fourth of Palestine for the Jewish national home. Therefore the partition plan accepted in 1947 left the Jews with only 13% of the original Palestine Mandate.
O Jerusalem partially covers the biography of Hitler's ally, and founder of the "Palestinian" Arab movement, Mufti Haj Amin El Husseini. Husseini stirred up the bloody Arab pogrom against the Jews, in the Old City of Jerusalem, in 1920. Two years later, at the instigation of the British Mandates political secretary, the rabidly anti-Jewish E.T Robinson, he was appointed "Mufti of Jerusalem", the equivalent of Bishop of a city, with Jewish and not Moslem routes, and a Jewish, not Moslem plurality.
Haj Amin El Husseini manipulated his way to becoming President of the Moslem Supreme Council, and in the following years, he set himself up as an unchallenged dictator of all the Moslems in the Holy Land, through a combination of patronage and terror, in which thousands of Arab opponents and potential or suspected opponents where murdered on the orders of the Mufti, in a bloody purge.
In 1929, the Mufti orchestrated more violent of Jews in Palestine, covering the Land of Israel in the blood of Jewish men, women and children.
When the British finally decided to arrest him, he fled to Beirut and later to Baghdad, where in 1941, he aided in a Nazi-backed plot to overthrow the British government in Iraq. When the plot failed he fled to Iran and then to Nazi Germany where he formed a close friendship with Adolph Hitler and attended Nazi rallies as an honoured guest.
He did everything in his power to achieve an Axis victory. He recruited Arab agents to drop behind the British lines as saboteurs and raised two divisions of Bosnian Moslems for the SS. He facilitated the German entry into Tunisia and Libya. He personally visited the Nazi death camps including Auschwitz and he urged the Nazis to speed up the Final Solution. In 1943 Husseini personally influenced Reich Foreign Minister Ribbentrop to prevent four thousand Jewish children being sent to Israel, instead diverting them to Hitler's death camps where they perished.
It was the Mufti who led `Palestinian' Arab forces against the fledgling Jewish State, and who is a much-admired uncle of PLO leader Yasser Arafat.
We also learn that Haj Amin was not the only Arab terrorist to be trained in Nazi Germany, as part of the Axis war effort. The commander of the Arab Liberation Army , Fawzi el Kaujki was a noted celebrity in Berlin during World War II , where he was furnished with every luxury he needed by Hitler's Nazi regime, including his blonde German wife.
The book covers the role in the war effort of the War of Independence of the likes of David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, David Shaltiel, Yitzhac Rabin, Yigal Allon, Yigal Yadin and millions of ordinary Jewish men and women. Unfortunately the Revisionist freedom fighters -Irgun and Lehi -do not get fair treatment and are unjustly maligned in the book. The account given of the alleged massacre of Arabs during the Battle of Deir Yassin is based on the lies of the Arabs and their British allies. Unfortunately the Hagannah, the military wing of the Labour Zionists added to these lies to malign their political opponents in the Irgun and Lehi.
A heroic account is given of the struggle of the Jews of Jerusalem, to survive Arab attacks and starvation.
on 4 July 1996
This unbiased account of the siege of Jerusalem during the
1948 Israeli War of Independence, told through the eyes of
both Jew and Arab alike, offers a unique opportunity to
understanding the complex situation which currently exists
in the Middle East. Written by the reknound journalists,
Larry Collins and Dominique LaPierre, this book takes us on
a meandering journey in and out of the lives of the men and
women who fought, lived, loved and died protecting or
defending their city. Dozens of simple stories,
documenting the lives of ordinary people and statesmen
alike, offer a haunting glimpse into this not so
distant but dramatic past. A must for anyone wanting to
gain a deeper understanding into today's conflict, or
explore this time of struggle, birth and death of two
nations, two peoples.
on 6 December 2010
I wanted a thorough detailed account of the formation of the Jewish state in advance of a vacation to Israel & Jerusalem in 2011. This book did not dissapoint, it is very detailed but is sprinkled with acute personal, human observations that bring the characters and events to life. From my comparison readings elsewhere I found the book to be an accurate, albeit chilling, account of an important 20th century world event from as unbiased a perspective as I would think it is possible to produce ..recommended.