Aliyah: The People of Israel

Aliyah: The People of Israel

Aliyah: The People of Israel

Aliyah: The People of Israel

Excerpt

This book deals with the people who settled in Palestine before 1948 and who participated in the rebirth of the Jewish State. I have attempted to portray them through the technique of "biographical history," for I do not believe that they can be adequately understood merely through statistics or institutions. Indeed, no nation can be so understood, although most of them must be described in this fashion, for they embrace far too large a complex of racial, religious, and economic factors to lend themselves to evaluation on a "case-study" basis. More important, few of the countries of the world have telescoped their histories into the space of a few generations; as a result, their pioneers are no longer available for first-hand study. The State of Israel is an important exception.

Admittedly, Israel's population is not homogeneous, nor do all or most of its citizens share a uniformity of background. Those who came to Palestine, both before and after the birth of Israel, represent a wide diversity of traditions and cultures. Their personal and collective ambitions often lie in widely different directions. Those differences have often been expressed with vigor -- and at times with violence. It need hardly be added, too, that even settlers who shared a common heritage and a common goal have often been estranged from each other by reason of personality and temperament.

And yet, these difficulties notwithstanding, I believe that it is possible through selected biographies to capture something of the spirit -- or, if you like, the mood -- of the men and women who settled in Palestine before 1948. Heterogeneous as they are, most of them arrived in rather clearly differentiated waves of immigration. Each aliyah -- each wave -- was set in motion by specific causative factors. In some cases, the factor was simply the need to find sanctuary from persecution; in others, the search for refuge was given new dimension by well-articulated Zionist ideals, by messianic notions of religious or social redemption in the Holy Land. Each aliyah approached the challenge of adjustment in Palestine in ways that reflected its own unique character. In the case of the religionists, the approach was obviously one of Orthodox piety. In the case of the socialists of the second and third immigration waves, the . . .

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