Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel
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Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel [Hardcover]

Arno J. Mayer
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 17, 2008
This rich, authoritative history chronicles the Zionist Israeli quest from itsorigins in pre-Great War Europe. Plowshares Into Swords traces the development ofpolitical Zionism’s primal resolve to implant a state for Jews in aMiddle East of ever greater strategic importance. In it, Mayer provides newperspectives on key turning points as well as on such enduring issuesas the young country’s dire need for imperial protection, the oilimperative, the hidden ascendance of Jabotinsky’s martial andexpansionist canon, and reliance on the American Jewish and Christianevangelical lobbies. He examines, too, the post-colonial backlash against Westernsupremacy, the asymmetry of power between Israelis and Palestinians,the Zionist Israeli leaders’ studied prevarication on borders, and theemergence of political Judaism and political Islam.

Incorporatingreflections on founding violence, sovereignty, resistance, terror, andreligious politics, Plowshares into Swords is an absorbing, challenging narrative of Zionism and Israel in the context of world history.

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The latest from professor and author Mayer (Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?: The "Final Solution" in History) is an exhaustive historical investigation into the origins and evolution of the Zionist movement, born in the late 19th Century with a mission to establish a Jewish state, and carried on in never-ending Arab-Israeli conflicts over the Holy Land. Mayer sheds much light on the history of the movement and the region while keeping an eye toward world events, and offers plenty of considered editorializing on policies and actions (like radical retaliation) taken by both sides. As these two groups struggle, drawing in the interest of world powers, Mayer highlights past downfalls and draws simple lessons suggesting that a one-state solution is within grasp. Though Mayer's research is thorough and his opinionated voice engaging, his delivery is erratic, switching topics distractedly and losing focus in copious rants and asides; if readers don't mind some whiplash, they'll find a great deal of intriguing information on the Holy Land's long-standing state of turmoil.
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"Mayer has written a masterly study of probably the most difficult and painful topic a historian can tackle." The Nation "This is a serious and thoughtful contribution to the subject, clearly written, provocatively argued and based on a wide reading of the scholarly literature." Jewish Chronicle "His comparison of the period of generalised crisis from 1914 to very effective." Guardian"

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (August 17, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844672352
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844672356
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,447,816 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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63 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I am ashamed of my own people. January 3, 2009
Page 144: "Even after Krystallnacht on November 9, 1938, when Neville Chamberlain offered a refuge for Jewish children in England, Ben-Gurion confided that, given the choice between saving `all the Jewish children of Germany [and Austria] by sending them to England' and saving `only half of them by taking them to Palestine,' he would opt for the latter." This along with the Zionist axiom that Palestine was "a land without people" for taking by the Jews, "a people without land," goes to the heart of why the Zionists have created so much misery in the Near East and have helped destabilize the world. It is inconceivable that in October of 2000, after both the UN General Assembly and Commission on Human Rights overwhelmingly criticized Israel for excessive use of force (1000 Palestinian deaths versus a few Israelis) following Palestinian riots in response to Sharon's symbolic arrogation of the Temple Mount, that the US House of Representative voted 365 to 30 denouncing the UN and blaming the Palestinians. We are living through that Looking Glass again.

Like Arno Mayer, I grew up on the lies the Zionists told me only to be awakened to the realities of the history of Zionist aggression and abuse by the Israeli revisionist historians. As I sit here and write the Israeli army is bombing woman and children, destroying universities and infrastructure in Gaza, claiming this as incidental collateral damage in their pursuit of a few terrorists who, after Israel had blockaded Gaza for months, hurled missiles into Israel which had little effect. The three or four hundred Palestinians currently being killed (and the count keeps rising) are not very many by the standard of Israel's bombing of the UN refugee camp in Lebanon or Sabra and Chatila, or the expulsions of 1948.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Americans Should Learn What This Book Has To Teach Us January 26, 2009
By sandyt
Arno Mayer's "Plowshares into Swords" makes a thorough case against the Zionist movement, from the 1890s to the present day. It should be required reading for all Americans, whose money, after all, continues to finance Israel's bombing of Gaza and Lebanon, as well as its continued settlement of the West Bank.

Like a prosecutor, Mayer lays out his case in detail, incident by incident, quote by quote. The reader comes away enlightened and convinced that Zionism's founders never intended to deal fairly with the Arabs of Palestine. They intended to displace them. Thus they never bothered to learn anything about them, let alone to try to engage them. Their idea was to implant a Western style nation-state in the Middle East, where such things were unknown.

But there was always an alternative. There were those in the Zionist movement who wanted to create in Palestine a spiritual-cultural center which would spark a renaissance of Judaism both there and in the diaspora, which would not threaten the Arabs. Mayer's heart is clearly with these "critical Zionists": philosopher Martin Buber, rabbi Judah Magnes, editor Ahad Haam, and others, who spent decades calling for a binational state built on mutual aid and understanding between Arab and Jew. These voices, ignored for decades, speak eloquently through his book. Perhaps because they took the Middle East seriously, their ideas were more appropriate to its history and environment, where linguistic and religious communities lived side-by-side without borders.

In the event, they were suppressed by David Ben-Gurion and the militant nationalists in the Zionist movement, and the State of Israel was built on bayonets rather than on understanding. The Arabs of Palestine are still paying for this.
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5 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Arno J. Mayer has bequeathed to the modern world its central political problem: the relationship of the Jews to modernity; in this he stands firmly in a tradition that was originated in the work of Karl Marx who advocated the destruction of the Jewish Problem by the elimination of the Jewish religion; Dr Leo Strauss, in my opinion, sought to create the tensional elements in modernity--make no mistake about this, his project is emphatically political, not merely theoretical--which would explode, thereby allowing for a consideration in action of "a universal human problem" as he calls the theological-political-problem (see Heinrich Meier, "Leo Strauss and the Theolgical Political Problem" for the best analysis of this concept in Strauss). Elsewhere, I have sought to demonstrate the kinship and fellow-traveling of Mr. Strauss with comunisim, a political species of Heideggerian-Nietzscheanism (which Mayer is well aware of at least in the Zionist tradition), and, even--Heaven forefend--Bakunian anarchism.These are the elements that a devious Mr. Strauss cooked-up in his Wierd Sisters' pot (inhabitants of Lesbos): Double, double, toil and trouble.
But Strauss' work is subtle, possibly maliciously subtle (Einstein said that God was "subtle, not malicious," but his god died under the knives of Zionists, and from his Durkheim wounds, we are all bleeding). Mayer's work is also subtle, maybe malicious.
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