I have now got a copy of the book my neighbour recommended. It is ‘The Israelis” Founders and Sons’ by Amos Elon, and it is easy reading (always a big plus for me) and clever.
It starts with the 1968 celebration that marked the 20th anniversary of the Jewish State. It describes the military parade and fly-past that some among the government and around, were unhappy about – military parades being in some ways anathema to the Jewish ideal.
But this was 11 months after the 1967 war and some people wanted to honour the soldiers who had turned the events into victory.
It described how before that war there were tv broadcasts from Egypt and other surrounding countries with crowds baying for blood (that seems such a cliche) and the Arab leaders talking about wiping Israel off the face of the map.
Well, the war came and went, and the outcome was a surprise to many. But what the book describes is that at the time of the celebration of the State of Israel, 11 months after the war, a sense of melancholy had crept in, for no Arab State had agreed to a peace treaty, which had been the dream and half-expectation of the Israelis after the 1967 war.
So to those Israelis, it seemed they would have to fight the war again, and perhaps again after that.
The book then homes in on the grand old men, the founders, sitting on the podium, and from there we go on our tour of the history and founding of the State.
he book though also describes how the in the years before the founding of the State and during its founding, many non-Jews were displaced, and now, with the capturing of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, they were back within Israel’s borders and control.
As to who those people were (and are), and how they came to be there, how long they had been there, and how many of them there were, is the subject of controversy, propaganda and myth.
One group argues that in the years before and during the Second World War many people were ‘imported’ from neighbouring countries in order to affect the number of Jews who could immigrate within the terms of the policy of the British Government during their Mandate.
Another group says that the people were there and had been there for many years. A third group asks how it is relevant how long they had been there, and that the only question is how shall they live.