Israel at Six­ty: An Oral His­to­ry of a Nation Reborn

Deb­o­rah Hart Strober; Ger­ald S. Strober
  • Review
By – March 9, 2012

Israel at Six­ty: An Oral His­to­ry of a Nation Reborn sur­veys Israeli his­to­ry as seen by thir­ty-two inter­vie­wees, many of whom have been per­son­al­ly involved in Israeli pol­i­cy deci­sions, giv­ing them an inti­mate knowl­edge of Israel. The inter­vie­wees rep­re­sent a broad cross-sec­tion of Israeli soci­ety and include for­mer cab­i­net aides, Knes­set mem­bers, uni­ver­si­ty pro­fes­sors, jour­nal­ists, and Mossad offi­cials. Some Amer­i­cans were includ­ed as well, such as Anti-Defama­tion League and Chris­t­ian Evan­gel­i­cal leaders. 

The authors explore the every­day life as well as the polit­i­cal land­scape of Pales­tin­ian Jew­ish exis­tence in the pre-State era. Some of the inter­views high­light his­tor­i­cal truths that have some­times become obscured. In an inter­view with a for­mer Knes­set mem­ber, Joseph Matza, we are remind­ed that, There are peo­ple who will say to me, Look Mr. Matza, if not for the Holo­caust you couldn’t have estab­lished the State of Israel.’ This is a wrong idea because the under­ground fought the British Man­date, and the British didn’t have any oth­er choice but to leave Eretz Israel… That is how we estab­lished the State of Israel. It had noth­ing to do with the Holo­caust.” As Mr. Matza cor­rect­ly observes, we often for­get that the Pales­tin­ian Jew­ish revolt against the British Man­date com­menced pri­or to World War II and not as the result of the Holocaust. 

While the authors try to include most major events in Israel’s his­to­ry, they could have done bet­ter in cer­tain respects. For exam­ple, they devote only two pages to the Sec­ond Lebanon War even though that war has been the most talked about top­ic in Israel for the last two years. How­ev­er, for those inter­est­ed in learn­ing how Israel’s pio­neers lived back in the 1940’s, or for those inter­est­ed in insid­ers’ views of the per­son­al­i­ties of Men­achem Begin, Gol­da Meir, and Ehud Olmert, the book is a worth­while read.

Gil Ehrenkranz is a lawyer in the Dis­trict of Colum­bia spe­cial­iz­ing in telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions law and inter­na­tion­al trans­ac­tions. He has been pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished in MID­STREAM Mag­a­zine includ­ing an arti­cle con­cern­ing Israeli mil­i­tary options regard­ing Iran’s nuclear weapons pro­gram., as well as in the Mid­dle East Review of Inter­na­tion­al Affairs

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