EXILE AND RETURN: The Emergence of Jewish Statehood by Martin Gilbert

EXILE AND RETURN: The Emergence of Jewish Statehood

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The focus is on British chicanery in this dramatic study of the Jewish struggle for a national home in Palestine. Following an introduction expressing the Jewish claim to the disputed area, Oxford historian Gilbert, author of The Appeasers (1963) and a multi-volume biography of Winston Churchill, further pursues the theme of British appeasement during the inter-war years--appeasement this time of their numerous Muslim colonial subjects vis-à-vis the Jews. Requiring Jewish assistance against Germany in the First World War and sympathetic to the Jewish need for a haven from persecution, the British in 1917 issued the Balfour Declaration. But the exigencies of postwar foreign policy required the gradual retraction of the promise, first by limiting Jewish immigration and Arab land sales in Palestine, then by attempting to create a permanent Jewish minority in an Arab-controlled country--until, in futility, they unloaded the problem on the UN. Depicted against the backdrop of increasing Jewish mistreatment by both the Soviets and the Nazis, the scene deftly shifts from Palestine to England and back, laying bare--in documentary form--interactions between the British and the Zionists, officials in London and locals on the scene. Excerpted from newly-available British archives, diaries, and memoirs as well as from well-known secondary works, the first-person selections are/ skillfully linked with connective narrative. Though scholars will have some difficulty in identifying specific sources, Gilbert's technique of letting the participants tell their story makes for a vivid, authentic record that complements the basic histories by Ben Halpern (The Idea of the Jewish State, Rev. ed. 1970) and J. C. Hurwitz (The Struggle for Palestine, 1976).

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1978
Publisher: Lippincott