TERROR OUT OF ZION: The Violent and Deadly Shock Troops of Israeli Independence, 1929-1949 by J. Bowyer Bell

TERROR OUT OF ZION: The Violent and Deadly Shock Troops of Israeli Independence, 1929-1949

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An academic expert on terrorism and author of a previous book about the Mideast (The Long War, 1969) has written a unique anecdotal narrative about the ""Revisionist"" Zionist underground, the Irgun and LEHI. Bell, who interviewed many paramilitary veterans, calls himself a ""small-r revisionist"" in seeking to present their activity free of ""orthodox"" depreciation or normal aversion to terrorism; instead, he views them sympathetically as counterparts of the Irish Revolutionary Army. After they united in rejecting the dominant concept of mere self-defense against the Arabs in the late 1930s, a split occurred among the terrorists during WW II when Avraham Stern refused to support the British war effort and instead made overtures toward the Axis. After 1945, terrorism came into its own; Bell records prison escapes, arms smuggling and assassination plots in great detail (preferred disguises for the Irgun: RAF officers, Arab deliverymen, or non-kosher beef scouts). Justifications and self-justifications are enumerated. For example, Bell thinks the Irgun tried to warn the King David Hotel in Jerusalem to evacuate its occupants before they blew it up in 1946, as they claim; but, he believes, the warning never got through. And he argues that the murder of UN mediator Folke Bernadotte should be viewed in light of the Count's reputation as a Nazi collaborator and ""British pawn."" The book's conclusion--""For the underground, terror was an unavoidable means""--seems an exculpatory tautology, but the stories are undeniably gripping.

Pub Date: Nov. 30th, 1976
Publisher: St. Martin's