Return to Zion: The History of Modern Israel

Return to Zion: The History of Modern Israel

Return to Zion: The History of Modern Israel

Return to Zion: The History of Modern Israel

Synopsis

The history of modern Israel is a story of ambition, violence, and survival. Return to Zion traces how a scattered and stateless people reconstituted themselves in their traditional homeland, only to face threats by those who, during the many years of the dispersion, had come to regard the land as their home. This is a story of the "ingathering of the exiles" from Europe to an outpost on the fringes of the Ottoman Empire, of courage and perseverance, and of reinvention and tragedy.
Eric Gartman focuses on two main themes of modern Israel: reconstitution and survival. Even as new settlers built their state they faced constant challenges from hostile neighbors and divided support from foreign governments, as well as being attacked by larger armies no fewer than three times during the first twenty-five years of Israel's history. Focusing on a land torn by turmoil, Return to Zion is the story of Israel--the fight for independence through the Israeli Independence War in 1948, the Six-Day War of 1967, and the near-collapse of the Israeli Army during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
Gartman examines the roles of the leading figures of modern Israel--Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizmann, David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Yitzchak Rabin, and Ariel Sharon--alongside popular perceptions of events as they unfolded in the post-World War II decades. He presents declassified CIA, White House, and U.S. State Department documents that detail America's involvement in the 1967 and 1973 wars, as well as proof that the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was a case of mistaken identity. Return to Zio n pulls together the myriad threads of this history from inside and out to create a seamless look into modern Israel's truest self.

Excerpt

It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction. This maxim is perhaps nowhere more evident than as it relates to the history of Israel, which is the unlikely tale of how a scattered, stateless— and in many ways powerless—people reconstituted itself in its traditional homeland, only to face the threat of annihilation by those who, during the many years of dispersion, had come to regard the land as their home. I have set out to write a narrative that captures this story in a lively manner, focusing on what I see as the two main themes of modern Israel: reconstitution and survival. The reader will not find any discussion of the structure of the government of Israel, nor exhaustive lists of political parties and their representatives in Parliament, nor a bevy of economic data. Instead, this history attempts to place the reader in the time and place of the major development of the Jewish state, re-creating a sense of what it was like for those whose lives formed the tapestry of the saga of Israel. In addressing the conflict with the Arabs, my approach has been to let the two sides speak for themselves through documents from the times. As this is a history of Israel and not of the Arab-Israeli conflict, there are, by necessity, more Israeli sources. Still, the Arab perspective is hardly underrepresented; I wrote this book not to take sides or to persuade, but rather to educate those who . . .

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