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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comprehensive Work, 4 Jun. 2008
This review is from: History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time (Paperback)
It is very difficult to accurately and comprehensively analyse this work.

The fact is that Sachar go's out of his way to be even-handed, which leads to a dilemma in itself.

The truth is that one cannot be objective in a conflict where it is clear to any fair-minded and honest observer who the agressors are and always have been: The Jews peacefully returned to their ancient land, and for nearly a century the Arabs have been trying to drive them into the sea.

There are times when I am uncomfortable with the author's particularly unfair treatment of the Jewish freedom fighters- the Irgun and Lechi- whom he labels as 'terrorists'.

At the same time, he honestly appraises the history of the situation as he see's it, and does not like the malevolent 'new historians' and revisionists, like Chomsky, Finkelstein, Said, Lenni Brenner and Israel Shahak, go back and rewrite history to suit their own destructive and malicious agenda against Israel.

This is an honest appraisal, in which the author strives to be fair.

Though his commentary is not always to my liking, he sticks to the facts, except in cases like the so-called massacre of Deir Yassin, where he has accepted the 'official' version' of events, despite clear evidence that there had been no deliberate killing of Arab civillians by the Jews.

The author begins by outlining the beginnings of the Zionist movement, the work of pioneers such as Moshe Hess, Leo Pinsker, Moses Montefiore, Achad Ha'am, Theodore Herzl, Chaim Weizmann and Vladimir Jabotinsky. He describes their strugles to adapt to harsh terrain, in the land which had flourished two thousand years before, when their ancestors lived there.

He describes how sucessive waves of Jews returning to the Land of Israel, struggled to adapt, often, to the homeland that was being restored.

He writes of the purchase by the Jews from Arab absentee landlords. The book describes the revival of the Hebrew language, thanks to the efforts of Eliezer Ben Yehuda, and of the the long tradition of discrimination and dhimmni status of the Jews, in the Holy Land, and Arab countries under Islamic domination.

We learn of the origins of Communist hostility to Zionism and the Israeli people, of the originally warm attitude to Zionism by forward thinking Arab leaders such as King Feisal of Syria, and the bloody pogroms by Arabs on Jewish communities in the Land of Israel in 1920, 1921, 1929 and 1936-1939.

The truth is that a very large part of the Arab hostility to Zionism, and the returning Jews originated in the fear among the Arab aristocracy in the Holy Land, and elsewhere in neighbouring lands, that the egalitarian spirit of the Jews, the democracy and emphasis, on social justice and democracy would influence the Arab masses, and therefore threaten the powerbases of the Arab elites.

We read of Hitler's ally and Jew-hater Mufti Haj Amin el Husseini, one of the original founders of Islamic jihad against the Jewish people, and his impassioned preaching of venom and genocide against the Jews.

Much of the Arab hostility and agression towards the Jews of the then named 'Palestine' was encouraged by intense propaganda directed at the Arabs by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, this at a time when hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees where fleeing from Nazi Germany to the Holy Land.

The book also highlights the Balfour Declaration and how the British later reneged, under Arab pressure, on the promises to the Jewish people of restoration to their ancient land.

Many of the British actively assited the Arabs against the Jews, and the British blocked the netry of hundreds of thousands of Jews, attempting to enter 'Palestine' as an escape from Hitler's infernos.

The book discusses the persecution of Jews in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen and Egypt, and their mass expulsion from these countries after they fled from the Arab states, with nothing more than the clothes on their backs from the countries they had lived in for centuries.

The book describes the miraculous survival of the Jews of Israel, during the Second World War, and their victories against overwhelming odds in the War of Independence, the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur War.

The book describes how before the Six Day War, the Arabs had surrounded Israel ,and openly issued hideous threats of genocide against all the Jews of Israel, forcing Israel to fire the first shots in order to survive(after Nasser had closed the Straights of Tiran) , and of the decades of infiltrations into Israel of marauding Arab terror bands killing Israeli men, women and children, including the massacres of Jewish children at Kiryat Shmona and Ma'alot, by the terrorists of the 'Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine'. And we also read of the cowardly attack by Arab states on Israel, that started the Yom Kippur War, and the unpreparedness of Israel's leadership that was scared to strike first for fear of upsetting world opinion.

This was a tragic mistake that imperilled the Israeli nation, and led to many unnecesary deaths of Israelis.

The book also describes the other triumphs of Israel: the absorbtion of millions of Jews, the struggles of the Oriental Jews (Jews from North Africa and the Middle East)for equality, the admirable building up of Israel's welfare state, and the capture and trial of Adolf Eichmann in the early 1960's.

He also reflect on the conflicts within Israeli society and, contrary to the allegations by an earlier reviewer, focuses much on the issues of Israeli Arabs.

The trial of Eichmann brought home the horrors of the holocaust, and the lessons derived by the holocaust, by emphasizing the dangers inherent towards a Jewish minority living among a non-Jewish majority, and the need for an ingathering of Jews from all parts of the world in a homeland of their own.

During a break in the court sessions of Israel's thirteenth Independence day, David Ben-Gurion referred to the Eichmnn trial in a speech:

"Here for the first time in Jewish history, historical justice is being done by the sovereign Jewish people. For many generations it was we who suffered, who were tortured, who were killed-and were judged...for the first time, Israel is judging the killers of the Jewish people...and let us bear in mind that only the independence of Israel could create the necesary conditions for the historic act of justice".

Never again can catastrophy allowed to overtake the Jewish people, and the Jewish people subjected to genocide, especially not in their own homeland.

In a hostile world, much of which wants Israel destroyed, Israel must and will survive...with the help of the Allmighty.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 31 Jul 2014, 19:49:53 BST
Last edited by the author on 31 Jul 2014, 19:58:11 BST
Lehi boasted that they were terrorists and both they and Irgun targeted Arab and British civilians in terrorist attacks. Their tactics were exactly the same tactics used by the Palestinian militant groups today which are similarly trying to get their own state and similarly facing a much better armed military.

And you say "In a hostile world, much of which wants Israel destroyed, Israel must and will survive...with the help of the Allmighty."

Israel is by far the strongest military power in the entire middle east. It defeated the entire Arab world three times when the Arab world was united against it - and today the technological gap between Israeli and Arab weaponry is far greater than then and half the Arab states have been at peace with Israel for decades (Egypt, Jordan) or are involved in civil wars (Iraq, Syria). Israel also has nuclear weapons and the backing of the US (the world's only remaining superpower) and most of the governments of the EU along with Canada and Australia. How is this "A hostile world".

There is no threat to Israel's survival, but Israel's refusal to end settlement of the West Bank or ever offer Palestinians a viable state in it and Gaza poses a massive threat to the Palestinian peoples' survival as individuals and as a nation.

Is it fine for Palestinians to be subjected to ethnic cleansing by force? Did they committ the Holocaust? Do Israelis have some right by conquest to Israel because a group of Israelites conquered it in Biblical Times or in the 1948 and 1967 wars? And if you argue that they do how is your argument any different from Islamic Jihad's that Palestine is Muslim land by right of conquest?

The only legitimate basis for an Israeli state is the UN Resolution of 1948, which also provided for an Arab state alongside Israel - for the Palestinians.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Aug 2014, 14:29:09 BST
Gary Selikow says:
Lechi and the Irgun never killed any British civilians? Where is your evidence that they did this? they fought British soldiers because the British government and army were fighting against the Jews ,and siding with the Arabs.
How could Israeli conquer Israel when there was always a Jewish presence there even after the Roman destruction of Jerusalem
And many Israeli can trace their ancestry back hundreds of years in Israel, when most so called Palestinians entered Israel during the British Mandate
And the Arabs didn't get their state in 1948 because they attacked Israel. after refusing to accept the UN decision for two states. It was the League of Nations that voted for a Jewish homeland in Palestine in 1923. There are many other claims to Israel for the Jewish people other than just the UN resolution on November 1947
Would you like to dismantle Israel and see its Jews exiled and massed again. Or are you a Lawrentian Arab with a homerotic infatuation for the 'exotic Palestinians'?

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Jun 2016, 17:49:12 BST
They killed British police officers. They bombed the King David Hotel and killed civilians. They killed plenty of Arab civilians too.

If you look up the wikipedia entry on Lehi you'll find that they boasted of being terrorists and the sources for those boats - including articles in Lehi's own magazine.

There are other claims to Israel for the Jewish people than the 1947 UN Resolution, but they are all crazy claims based on the fact that it was a Jewish kingdom 2,000 years previously, which is like modern Italy demanding the entire Roman Empire because it had it in 0 AD , or Denmark claiming part of England as its territory based on the Viking Age Danelaw. And as for the religious claims that "God gave them the land", those are as the Islamist claims that Allah gave it to them.

Then there's "right of conquest" which is a backwards ancient and medieval concept not held by any modern democrat - and the same one Islamic Jihad use when they say it's Muslim land by "right of conquest".

I would not like to dismantle Israel, nor see any Jews exiled or massacred.

I would like to see Israel give up some of the territory it has taken by force to a viable Palestinian state with sovereignty as full as Israel's in Gaza and most of the West Bank, and peace - or else peace through an agreement on a single binational state.

Even Efraim Halevy the former head of Mossad has been saying for years that Israel should accept Hamas' offers of negotiations on a long term peace.

Is he meant to hate Jews and want them all killed too in your world? Or have a "homoerotic infatuation for ..Palestinians" as you put it?
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