THE BIRTH OF ISRAEL: Myths and Realities by Simha Flapan

THE BIRTH OF ISRAEL: Myths and Realities

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An earnest but unpersuasive attempt to alter perceptions of Israel, and, by doing so, convince the Israeli leadership to alter its policies in a radical way to pursue peace. Flapan, founding editor of the journal New Outlook and a longtime advocate of Israel's making concessions to seek peace, sees the 1948 Israeli War of Independence as the key to understanding subsequent Arab-Israeli relations as well as such phenomena as the Lebanese war and Rabbi Meir Kahane's program to expel Arabs from Israel. He examines received views about the War era, views he perceives as myths. He blames the potency of these myths for blocking peace, then seeks to demolish these views. The seven ""myths"" he examines center around Israel's purported interest in peace, its supposed support for the 1947 U.N. Partition resolution, and its weakness in the face of the Arabs' strength. In almost all cases, Flapan blames Israel for the lack of peace. He believes the entire 1948 war could have been avoided had Israel delayed its declaration of statehood, and thinks a direct link exists between David Ben-Gurion and Menachem Begin in their willingness to forge a nation at the expense of peaceful co-existence. At times Flapan recognizes some Arab myths and misconceptions, but doesn't discuss them, claiming they should be discussed by an Arab--and he concludes that Israel bears the major responsibility for seeking peace. Flapan is obviously sincere. A careful reading of the text, though, can lead to conclusions at odds with his. The very myths Flapan claims Israel uses can in fact be seen as caused by the Arab refusal to negotiate. Thus the book--more likely to appeal to those well-grounded in Middle-Eastern history than the general reader--is not the bombshell Flapan openly wishes to have produced. He has written an ideological history most useful for those who already accept his views.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1987
Publisher: Pantheon