The Modern History of Israel

The Modern History of Israel

The Modern History of Israel

The Modern History of Israel

Excerpt

Israel's population today is a mere three million, but tens of millions are numbered among its victims, enemies, friends and supporters. From the moment of its specific origins in Europe nearly a century ago Israel's history has been intermingled with that of other peoples to a degree extraordinary even in the modern world. Perhaps for this reason, Israel is the subject of an embarrassingly abundant literature. It is therefore remarkable that hitherto no general history of the whole century available. In offering what I believe to be the first work of this kind, I hope that it will be of interest to the general reader without prior knowledge of the Jews or of Israel. Such a reader should find the narrative intelligible, with many points of reference to patterns of life familiar elsewhere in the contemporary world. To the habitual reader of history such connections will seem like common sense, and will only be challenging if they come up against any prior assumption that Israel's history is mysterious or inaccessible.

I completed the manuscript of this work in June 1973, three months before the outbreak of the fourth Israeli-Arab war of the quarter-century. The six-year war of 1967-73 is still too recent to permit a historical analysis symmetrical with the treatment of the earlier periods. I have therefore added an epilogue in order to bring the discussion of the Israel-Arab conflict up to the end of December 1973.

This work has been several years in gestation, so that it incurred many debts even before being conceived in its present form. Personal friends in Israel who have influenced or helped me over a period of twenty years are too numerous to mention. I hope that my friendships may survive the probability that they will disapprove of many of my views and interpretations. Numerous officials who would prefer to be anonymous have also given generously of their time to help me to clarify various issues.

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