HEROES OF ISRAEL: Profiles of Jewish Courage by Chaim Herzog

HEROES OF ISRAEL: Profiles of Jewish Courage

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Like his present post as President of the State of Israel, Herzog's latest foray into pop history carries a prestigious title but wields no real power. Herzog's hall of heroes extends from biblical Joshua to Yonatan Netanyahu (of the 1976 Entebbe rescue), but his selection is admittedly ""a personal one and makes no claim to being comprehensive."" The book seems clearly slanted to his Labor party idols, as non fighter Ben Gurion is given a chapter of praise while Ariel Sharon--hero of the Yom Kippur War--is neglected. While Herzog gallantly places heroines like Deborah the Prophetees and Hannah Szenes with the likes of Samson and Yigal Allon, he is less inclined to honor heroes of non-Ashkenazic backgrounds. The author of books on Battles of the Bible (1978) and The Arab-Israeli Wars (1982) insists that there was no Jewish military activity in between, from Bar Kokhba to NILI, thus denying Jewish military heroes from Yemen, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Mesopotamia who battled Christian and Moslem armies over several hundred years. Besides the Sephardic camp, the other element of Israel's growing anti-Labor majority are the religious. Not surprisingly, Herzog takes gratuitous swipes at Judaism's ""primitive custom of the blood feud"" and ""distinctly masculine deity."" The writing is fluid; the chapters on 20th-century pre-Israel are the strongest and least biased. But President Herzog's profiles in courage don't serve history, and he's no John Kennedy.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 1989
Publisher: Little, Brown