ISRAEL AND EUROPE by Howard M. Sachar

ISRAEL AND EUROPE

An Appraisal in History

KIRKUS REVIEW

Since the Yom Kippur War, the overwhelming amount of diplomatic “action” surrounding Israel has involved the US. But during the first half (1941—73) of the Jewish state’s existence, the European powers were crucial to its economic and military survival, as related here. Veteran scholar Sachar (Modern History/George Washington Univ.; Farewell Espa§a: The World of the Sephardim Remembered, 1994, etc.) rightly focuses almost exclusively on the four postwar European powers: Britain, France, West Germany, and the former USSR. Thus, for example, the Wiedergutmachung agreement (on reparations for the Holocaust), negotiated in 1952 between David Ben-Gurion and Konrad Adenauer, and bitterly opposed by Menachem Begin, was absolutely essential to the fledging state’s ability to absorb hundreds of thousands of new immigrants, develop new industry, and help tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors bear difficult economic conditions. Significant military aid from Bonn was forthcoming from the Adenauer era through that of Heinrich Kohl. In the mid-’50s, Paris helped Jerusalem to develop its air force and provided men and materials to build the country’s nuclear reactor in Dimona. Although he emphasizes diplomatic relations, including recently abortive European attempts to play a mediating role between Israel and the Palestinians, Sachar also probes the sharp upsurge in economic trade between Israel and the European Community, which has grown more than tenfold over the past 25 years. Unfortunately, too little here details the attitudes of major European intellectuals and religious leaders toward the Jewish state. In addition, Sachar’s pronounced “dovish” and anticlerical sentiments occasionally intrude, as when he asks: “Would the Israeli people survive a third generation only by maintaining a state of siege, retreating between a wall of parochialist suspicion and fundamentalist exclusivity?” However, these flaws pale in comparison to Sachar’s achievement: A solid, even pathbreaking book that covers a great deal of ground while remaining accessible to the general reader.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-679-45434-9
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1998




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