Moshe Sharett: Biography of a Political Moderate

Moshe Sharett: Biography of a Political Moderate

Moshe Sharett: Biography of a Political Moderate

Moshe Sharett: Biography of a Political Moderate


This book revises some of the most widely-accepted views on Israeli history and politics. Through the political biography of Israel's second prime minister, Moshe Sharett, it traces the roots of the Israeli polity, international and domestic orientations, and the making of its policies. It focuses on the role of a moderate leader and his struggles against the legendary Ben-Gurion and his activist supporters, shedding new light on the forces that shaped Israeli politics for decades.


Although largely forgotten at home and abroad, Moshe Sharett was one of the most prominent and well-known founding fathers of modern Israel. As chairman of the powerful and prestigious Political Department of the Jewish Agency in pre-state Palestine, as Israel's first dominant minister of foreign affairs, and as its second prime minister, he served the Yishuv and the young fledgling Jewish state with inspiration, dedication, and distinction. From the mid-1930s until his death in 1965, he was a renowned and influential member of the small order of visionaries who shaped the main features of Israel.

But, above all, Sharett was one of the most humane, realistic, and moderate political leaders during the Yishuv's period and Israel's first decade of existence. His humanity, moderation, and political chivalry, that were not characteristic of his arch-rival David Ben-Gurion and of most of his contemporaries, motivated this study of the man and his times. His virtues, that paradoxically led to his political demise in the strenuous Israeli polity, prompted the attempt to go beyond a mere political biography of the leader himself. Any penetrating study of such a pragmatic and prescient statesman, who was an eminent figure in the mobilized political élite that dominated the Yishuv and Israel, must delve into the intricate social and political order as well as into the leader's relations with other contemporary Zionist and Israeli politicians, in particular with Ben-Gurion. It must also reconsider the complex patterns according to which members of this closely knit political élite converted their visions into critical decisions.

In its choice of focus on the motivations, decisions, and actions of Sharett and through him of the entire group of talented and strong- willed leaders, who embarked on one of the most daring national adventures in the twentieth century, and succeeded in realizing their collective dream, this is also a revision of the history of the high politics of both the Yishuv and of Israel.

While the time-span covered by this biography is almost an entire century, it focuses on a period of thirty years--the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s. These were the formative decades of the Yishuv and Israel, as well as the crucial period in which the Jews became firmly locked into . . .

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