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The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities Paperback – August 12, 1988

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of Zionism and the Palestinians, 19171947 offers a cogent, controversial analysis of Israel's propaganda structures and the policies of the crucial formative years between 1948 and 1952. Utilizing Ben-Gurion's war diaries and other government archives, Flapan, former director of Arab affairs of Israel's left-wing Mapam party, posits that the 1948 War of Independence was not an inevitability forced upon a helpless Israel. He maintains that the socialist Zionist leadershipwho accepted Ben-Gurion's view that the Jewish state should be demographically homogeneous and geographically as extensive as possiblenot only encouraged and executed the expulsion of Palestinian Arabs but thwarted the creation of a Palestinian Arab state through a secret agreement with Abdallah of Transjordan. The annexation of the territory allocated for a Palestinian state was to be a first step in achieving Abdallah's dream of a British-supported Greater Syria; and, according to Flapan, the Arab states aimed not at liquidating the Jewish state but at preventing the implementation of this agreement. This disturbing work bears witness to the futility, and unconscionability, of addressing political problems by military means. (August
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

With the assistance of the recently published War Diaries of former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion and Israeli and Palestinian unpublished materials, Flapan attempts to debunk a number of Israeli-held beliefs regarding the historical development of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Joining other Israeli revisionist historians (e.g., Tom Segev, l949: the first Israelis, LJ 2/1/86), he casts Ben Gurion as the villain, who sought not compromise with the Palestinians but unmitigated geographical aggrandizement. Flapan attacks as "myth" the belief that Israel was threatened by the massive Arab neighboring armies and that Palestinians voluntarily left their homes. Though bound to create controversy, this is essential for those interested in Middle Eastern history or the politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Sanford R. Silverburg, Political Science Dept . , Catawba Coll., Salisbury, N.C.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Pantheon; First Paperback Edition edition (August 12, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679720987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679720980
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,579,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Edgar Hopida on February 6, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simha Flapan who is an Israeli of the MAPAM party debunks some of the most common spewed out myths of how the state of Israel was founded. Using the documentary record and declassified diaries of David Ben Gurion, the truth behind what really happened becomes clear. A must for anyone who wants to know the roots of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Of the so-called "New Historians" of Israel, Simha Flapan, via the strength of this book, first and best set the tone for the field. In fact, nothing dramatically new has emerged since Flapan's work in terms of the broad picture of the period. Nor has such really been needed given the comprehensiveness here. Works of other writers of the genre, e.g., Benny Morris, Tom Segev, etc. have essentially only fleshed out details and arguments. In this work, Flapan not only developed the basic picture that the "New Historians" would relate, and which revised common myths, but he does so in a very a clear and systematic manner.

What made Flapan and the new historians "new" is that they were finally able to read freshly declassified Israeli archives from the 1948 war. These were released in the 1980s due to a liberal Israeli open records policy allowing access to war records based on the passage of time from the original events. The "new" information and perspective Flapan and later writers brought out from that actually is not, and was not, particularly new to many specialists of the area. And certainly was not new to many Arabs, particularly Palestinians, who were on the receiving end of that history. But what the new historians importantly did do was publish conclusions based on the confirming primary documents from those newly opened archives. And so the voice of a committed Israeli Zionist like Flapan, when combined with that fresh documentation from original Israeli sources, adds a powerful credibility to the conclusions. That has made him and the other new Israeli historians a decisive set of voices in the writing of the history of the 1948 period.

In terms of this book's presentation, Flapan does quite well.
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I've read this book before, and was astounded at the scathing honesty
with which it was written. One of the few books about Palestine and
Israel that truly sheds light on the sources of conflict in that area. A
must read for all who wish to know the history behind today's politics.
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Flapan's book divulges a lot of material that either wasn't known before or was known only to a few. I'm not certain, but he may have been the first author to write about the Arab diplomatic initiatives in 1948-49. However, I don't think he proved his claim that Zionists didn't intend to abide by the 1947 partition. Apart from Ben-Gurion, he didn't quote any Zionists from the Mapai-Mapam camp who made expansionist statements before the Arab states invaded--the Zionists reasonably concluded that they weren't bound by partition once the Arabs went to war to destroy partition.
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