The Found­ing Fathers of Zionism

Ben­zion Netanyahu
  • Review
By – August 26, 2014

His­to­ri­an Ben­zion Netanyahu (19102012) was a tow­er­ing per­son­al­i­ty. One of his sons is the cur­rent prime min­is­ter of Israel, anoth­er gave his life to save Jews who were kid­napped by ter­ror­ists in Entebbe, Uganda. 

This short book con­tains five essays about the men who built the State of Israel. Sev­er­al of them can best be described as the­o­rists while the oth­ers were prac­ti­cal personali­ties and lead­ers. Netanyahu chose to write about men who ded­i­cat­ed their lives to the belief that an inde­pen­dent Jew­ish state was essen­tial, impor­tant both for Jews and for the world. 

The essays in The Found­ing Fathers of Zion­ism were writ­ten over sev­er­al decades chap­ter by chap­ter. Some of the essays were writ­ten pre-state of Israel while oth­ers were writ­ten after the Holo­caust. Each chap­ter has been pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished, some in Hebrew, oth­ers in Eng­lish. In that way each chap­ter, each per­son­al­i­ty, becomes part of a prism through which the read­er wit­ness­es the writer’s deep­ening urge to con­vince the read­er that Israel is the essen­tial solu­tion to the Jew­ish people’s problem. 

Ben­zion Netanyahu was first and fore­most a his­to­ri­an and his essays — about Pinsker, Her­zl, Nor­dau, Zang­will, and Jabotin­sky — are replete with sto­ries that detail the prover­bial forks in the road when his sub­jects were faced with deci­sions that not only shaped their lives but dic­tat­ed the future of the Jew­ish state and influ­ences our future as Jews. 

We are told that very lit­tle edit­ing was done on this work, and that is tru­ly amaz­ing. It is a mar­vel to read as Netanyahu, the polemi­cist, emerges. The Found­ing Fathers of Zion­ism will be an excel­lent resource for any­one inter­est­ed in dis­cov­er­ing the foun­da­tions of Zion­ism and under­stand­ing why the found­ing of the state was a rev­o­lu­tion for the Jew­ish people. 

By far the best essay in this work is the final one, in which one can feel Netanyahu’s pas­sion as he unfolds his most com­pelling and excit­ing argu­ment about the revi­sion­ist rev­o­lu­tion­ary Jabotin­sky, about Zion­ism, and about Israel.

Relat­ed content:

Mic­ah D. Halpern is a colum­nist and a social and polit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor. He is the author of What You Need To Know About: Ter­ror, and main­tains The Mic­ah Report at www​.mic​ah​halpern​.com.

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