Israel’s Start-Down Government

“We seek to strengthen every citizen’s freedoms and the country’s democratic institutions and to bring Israel more closely in line with the liberal American model.” These soothing words were not those of Ben-Gurion or of Begin in the past, expressing their admiration for the values of the American Revolution of 1776, but were part of … Read more

Rafi Eitan’s Memoirs

The late Rafi Eitan was – as the title Capturing Eichmann: The Memoir of a Mossad Spymaster suggests – an intelligence operative, a maverick with a finger in many pies.  Working on this account until a few days before his death in 2019, this posthumous publication relates many fascinating episodes in his life: how he killed two German Templars … Read more

On Eleanor Roosevelt

The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt Published by Bloomsbury 2022, pp. 557 Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was a leading liberal voice in post-war America. She had been a committed advocate of womens’ suffrage, an architect of the welfare state, a diplomat, a journalist and a social activist committed to the ideals of the newly established United Nations … Read more

Benjamin Netanyahu: His Story?

Bibi: My Story Benjamin Netanyahu Published by Threshold Editions, 2022, pp.726 When he was asked by a student in 2018, what is the most important subject to study for a political career, Benjamin Netanyahu replied that there were three answers: ‘History, history and more history’. In writing his own history during the Bennett-Lapid interregnum, dictated … Read more

The Decline of the Labour Party in Israel

Tal Elmaliach, Hakibbutz Ha’Artzi, Mapam and the Demise of the Israeli Labor Movement, translated from the Hebrew by Haim Watzman (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2020), 299 pp. Avi Shilon, The Decline of the Left Wing in Israel: Yossi Beilin and the Politics of the Peace Process, translated from the Hebrew by Ira Moskowitz (London: … Read more

On Józef Piłsudski

Józef Piłsudski, the founder of modern Poland after World War I, is hardly known today — and many Jews have previously regarded him pejoratively as just another one-dimensional strongman figure in an anti-Semitic inter-war Eastern Europe. This excellent biography by the American academic, Joshua Zimmerman, presents a far more nuanced account. Piłsudski grew up in … Read more

On Mikhail Gorbachev

In 1985, the year of Mikhail Gorbachev’s appointment as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 1140 Jews were allowed to leave. Four years later — the year when the Berlin Wall fell — the number reached 71,000. Almost a million Soviet Jews emigrated to Israel in the following years. This was … Read more

The Night of the Murdered Jewish Poets

‘I am a Russian writer. Like all Russians, I am now defending my homeland. But the Nazis have reminded me of something else; my mother’s name was Hannah. I am a Jew. I say this proudly.’ So spoke the noted writer, Ilya Ehrenburg, at a Jewish rally in Moscow in August 1941 as the Nazi … Read more

1982 Revisited

‘No more silence; no more compromise, no more acquiescence; no more vacillation, no more appeasement’. So spoke a young deputy at a Board of Deputies meeting in September 1982, defiantly challenging its leadership. It was directed at the Board’s Israel policy in the aftermath of the massacre of Palestinians by Christian Phalangists in the Lebanese … Read more