LIGHT ON ISRAEL by Maurice Samuel


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Samuel sets out to illuminate modern Israel's status by tracing the past vicissitudes of Arab-Jewish relations (""There was never a time when there were not Jews in Palestine"") and British opposition to the creation of a Jewish state. The book is comparable to Gervasi's The Case for Israel (1967, 1243); as an historian, Samuel is less detailed and analytic, less concerned with '60's geopolitics (he contents himself with describing U.S.-Soviet rivalry among the Arabs as ""a delusional hangover""). And, while Gervasi is a fellow-travelling Gentile, Samuel writes as a Zionist defending the need for a Jewish homeland, as a Jew moved by the ""shock of self-identification"" which reverberated among all sorts of Jews in 1967. He covers some slippery but interesting conceptual ground in an attempt to distinguish Arab self-consciousness, which has been ""miscalled"" nationalism, from Israeli nationalism or ""corporate spiritual identity."" Samuel pities the deprived, deceived Arab peoples; he finds the Palestinian refugees better off than any other Mideastern Arabs (unlike Gervasi, who stresses the misery the Arab leaders exploit). Finally, he discusses Soviet anti-Semitism (inexplicably neglecting Stalin's influence) and calls for Western recognition of world Jewry's ""uniquely useful influence toward the harmonization of nationalisms.

Pub Date: May 13th, 1968
Publisher: Knopf