David Ben-Guri­on and the Jew­ish Renaissance

Shlo­mo Aronson
  • Review
By – December 21, 2011
Faced with the ris­ing crit­i­cism of David Ben-Guri­on in recent decades from revi­sion­ist his­to­ri­ans and anti-Zion­ists, Shlo­mo Aron­son has writ­ten a dense­ly argued apolo­gia pro sua vita. He cer­tain­ly suc­ceeds in res­cu­ing this remark­able fig­ure, even if the read­er some­times won­ders if it could have been achieved with few­er words.

A vora­cious, self-taught read­er and thinker, Ben-Guri­on was some­what sen­si­tive about his lack of for­mal edu­ca­tion. It feels as if the author shares some of that dis­com­fort and sets out in a long open­ing chap­ter to detail Ben-Gurion’s intel­lec­tu­al fore­bears. He con­structs a com­plex the­o­ry of a moment in his­to­ry he calls the Jew­ish Renais­sance in order to explain the omniv­o­rous­ness and essen­tial prac­ti­cal­i­ty of Ben-Guri­on, when these traits can be plain­ly defend­ed by his unique suc­cess.

These small flaws aside, the book is extreme­ly valu­able. Aron­son refutes Ben-Gurion’s many detrac­tors, deflect­ing accu­sa­tions of all stripes. He explains the real world that the Jew­ish leader inhab­it­ed, the hor­ri­ble trap” of the Holo­caust, the unre­al­is­tic and dam­ag­ing activ­i­ties of the Zion­ist Left and Right of his day. And through this intel­lec­tu­al biog­ra­phy, Aron­son edu­cates the read­er on the back­ground his­to­ry of Zion­ism, and its any­thing but assured success. 
Jeff Bogursky reads a lot, writes a lit­tle and talks quite a bit. He is a media exec­u­tive and expert in dig­i­tal media.

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