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Son of the Cypresses: Memories, Reflections, and Regrets from a Political Life Hardcover – April 11, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 262 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (April 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520238257
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520238251
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,197,365 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"Whether Benvenisti takes up the issues of Jerusalem or the Oslo Agreements, whether people believe him to be marginal, heretical, or a contradictory critic of Israeli and Palestinian societies and politics, there is real force in his arguments and interpretations. His writing is so compelling and disturbing that his positions must be taken seriously."—Richard D. Hecht, Professor of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Wading into the white-hot cauldron of Israeli-Palestinian cultural politics, the independent-minded Benvenisti crowns his long career as politician, author, and scholar-journalist with this fearless, highly personal history of and engagement with his nation's dreams and trials. Part autobiography, part painful cultural history, part polemical argument with a host of equally strong-willed countrymen and intellectuals, Jerusalem's former deputy mayor provides readers with one veteran insider's search for an ethical place to stand in what may be the most intractable, complex and dangerous dilemma of our times. This book is an impossibly lonely, courageous effort to make the basic case to both his own ancestors and fellow Israelis that only surrender of the demand for full sovereignty for both Jews and Palestinians in favor of some yet-to-be-created shared polity will save his beloved land of Israeli cypresses and Palestinian orchards. A stunningly brave and urgent achievement, and an intensely rewarding experience for all readers concerned about the fate of the Middle East."—Peter Nabokov, author of A Forest of Time and Where the Lightening Strikes

About the Author

Meron Benvenisti was deputy mayor of Jerusalem from 1971 to 1978. He was a columnist for Haaretz, Israel’s largest newspaper, and is the author of numerous books including Intimate Enemies (UC Press, 1995), City of Stone (UC Press, 1996), and Sacred Landscape (UC Press, 2000).

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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on June 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This isn't really a soul searching book, and its not really about regrets. It mostly about the political development of an Israeli intellectual who came to abhore his countries policies and much of its history. It is the story of the coming of age of an anti-Zionist in his own words. It tells the story of a Kibbutznik and binationalist who beleived himself to be a native Canaanite Hebrew and worked for the Jerusalem municipality with Teddy Kolleck. He worked to help Arabs and to make 'occupation' tolerable.

He studied the Crusades and came to view them with some parrelells with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, but also claimed that it was not a completely fair comparison.

The author moruned the Dolphinarium bombing of 2002 but also thought the battle of Jenin was another Deir Yassin, still claiming in this book there were large numbers of civilian casualties, even though this is not accurate.

But the greatest failure of this book is that it is a bunch of loosely gathered anecdotes and stories and essays. It doesn't flow and there is very little synthesis. So by and large this account is a failure. Its not Benvenisti's best work and its not a very good memoir. It perhaps sheds light on a few topics and gives one an added introcution to this known critic of Israel.

Seth J. Frantzman
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
At the age of seventy Meron Benvenisti post- Zionist Israeli political activist and former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem has decided to make a kind of summing up of his family legacy and public life. He begins by telling the story of his parents, of his father who came to Israel from Salonika and his mother whose family came from Suvalki on the border of Prussia, Lithuania and Poland. The Sephardic father and the Ashkenazi mother hoped to produce a true child of the land.
Benvenisti's father was an important Zionist educator who contributed greatly to the educating of educators, to the learning of the land through walking up and down on it. His father who would be awarded the Israel Prize was a fervent Zionist, one who believed deeply in the Jewish return to their historical homeland and the making of a new society in an ancient land.
Benvenisti tells of his distancing from the vision of his father. This comes primarily through his sympathy with and connection to the 'other people' in the land, the Palestinians. As his father traced the Jewish roots of village after village in the Holy Land, so Meron Benvenisti would later trace their Arab roots. And this especially in regard to those Arab villages which were destroyed in the 1947-78 Israel War of Independence.
In fact Benvenisti seems at a certain point to wholly identify himself with the Palestinian Arabs, to see them as the ignored victims of the Zionist story. How ignored they are is of course a debatable question but Benvenisti sees them as the losers in the conflict who must be restored to a situation of dignity and well- being.
As he understands it Israel itself by its victory in 1967 entered a situation disastrous for its own soul and well- being.
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