In Israel’s recent election, Benjamin Netanyahu desperately defended his position as Israel’s prime minister, but perhaps also as a free man, because he may soon face trial for corruption charges. As Israelis learn more about his lavish life style, many yearn for the days of David Ben-Gurion (1886–1973), whom they recall as an ascetic statesman of vision and integrity. Netanyahu is seen as the opposite of Ben-Gurion.
So mused Israeli historian and journalist Tom Segev, author of this important biography of Israel’s first prime minister, in Haaretz newspaper. But, he added, Netanyahu has in many ways followed in Ben-Gurion’s footsteps, especially in his view that Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians can at best be managed, not solved.... (read more)
In 1901 the cultural Zionist Israel Zangwill, borrowing a phrase from Lord Shaftesbury, declared, ‘Palestine is a country without a people, the Jews are a people without a country.’ That cliché has continued to influence the impasse in the Middle East for almost a century ...... (read more)
While there have been many histories of Israel written over the decades, Arthur Hertzberg’s The Zionist Idea, published in 1959, remains a classic guide to the intellectual underpinnings of Zionism. It is now joined almost sixty years later by Michael Brenner’s excellent book, In Search of Israel: The history of an idea ...... (read more)
In December 2015, Israel’s Ministry of Education banned Dorit Rabinyan’s prize-winning novel All the Rivers from the high school curriculum on the grounds that the story of a romance between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man ‘threatens separate identity and promotes intermarriage’. Far-right Education Minister Naftali Bennett backed the decision ...... (read more)
On the final page of his biography of Yitzhak Rabin (1922–95), Itamar Rabinovich tells us that he contemplated an alternative subtitle for his book, ‘The image of his native landscape’. Because this particular life was so closely tied to a political project, it is similarly tempting to read Rabin’s biography as a story of the State of Israel, and to respond ...
Two Jews, three opinions. Jews nod their heads in agreement when they hear those words, just as they chuckle knowingly at the story of the two Jews stranded on a desert island ...... (read more)