Item description for Free Jerusalem: Heroes, Heroines and Rogues Who Created the State of Israel by Zev Golan...
The history of the creation of the State of Israel during its "Wild West" days, when various Jewish organizations fought both the Arab armies and the 100,000 British soldiers who controlled Palestine. True stories of the not always savory exploits of the Jewish fighters who eventually became the leaders of the State.
1) Well researched and documented, the book presents new material about the 30's and 40's when the State of Israel was being molded. 2) Reveals the battle for Jerusalem and how it became the capital of the State. 3) Fresh biographical material on the early leaders of the Jewish State. 4) Details many of the controversial successes and failures of the different Jewish groups as they jockeyed for military and political power.
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Reviews - What do customers think about Free Jerusalem: Heroes, Heroines and Rogues Who Created the State of Israel?
Fascinating Oct 26, 2007
Many other books about modern Israel's pre-state history focus largely on diplomatic relations, or lack thereof, this volume centers on individuals and the experiences that shaped their actions. Here, readers will learn about the appalling violence, and lack of British response, that drove Jewish residents of Jerusalem, and other cities, towns and villages to finally take up arms to defend themselves against Arab aggression and British indifference that bordered on hatred.
The early Jewish defenders formed and joined the Irgun and Stern Gang, which included both heroes and criminals.
In the late 20th century it became PC to term these groups as terrorists, but in the context of massacres of Jews perpetrated by Arabs in 1920 and 21; again in 1929, and in 1936 through 1939, such labels are not quite fair. It was not as if the Jewish warriors actually started the fighting. In fact, they were merely trying to buy land, build schools, farms and communities and rebuild the Jewish communities in Israel that had been limited and oppressed for centuries by conquerors from the Babylonians, Greeks and Romans and finally, centuries of Muslim conquerors--the Umayyads, Abbasids, and Saracens to the Ottomans defeated in 1918.
By 1920, the Jewish people had represented a majority in Jerusalem for at least 80 years. But in the rest of Israel, Arabs had over centuries developed the habit of frequently attacking Jews, whom they'd freely oppressed, taxed and murdered, according to the dictates of their muftis and their faith. Plunder from non-Muslims, after all, belong to Allah.
There was nothing divine, though, in the treatment Arabs meted out to Jewish inhabitants, and nothing regal about the resultant British indifference. It's inhuman to abuse, torment, attack or kill others simply because one has been taught to do so, and can. And how much more inhuman to be able to stop the abuse, as were the British but to stand by and do nothing, as the British also did. Multiply that inhumanity exponentially in 1936, with the British White Paper "prohibited" Jewish immigration to the Jewish homeland, in direct contravention of the 1918 international mandate of the League of Nations. The British were therefore responsible for the murders of millions of European Jews who could have otherwise been saved by moving to Israel.
By contrast, the Jewish rogues and heroes described here had a overarching purpose of saving their people. Without doubt, some murdered innocent civilians in the process. But that was not their primary intent--and many paid with their lives for these crimes.
But over time, the Jewish forces developed a cognitive strategy, focusing on military and strategic targets that could, and if not destroyed would, harm the Jewish population. Their object was not to destroy life, but to save it. And while some innocent people were assuredly killed in that process, for the most part, the Jewish rogues and heroes dedicated themselves to self-defense, not destruction for its own sake.
A fascinating take on early 20th century events in Israel.
--Alyssa A. Lappen
A fascinating book Jun 24, 2006
Much has been written about the history of Israel. But this book certainly fills in some of the blanks: namely early Jewish resistance to Arab aggression and British occupation.
Special emphasis is placed on the Irgun and the Stern Gang. And that raises the issue of whether the members of these groups were criminals or heroes.
In many cases, they were both.
There were Arab pogroms against Jewish communities in 1920-21, 1929, and 1936-39. One can understand why Arabs might have wanted to attack Jews. After all, the Arabs outnumbered the Jews, the British often did not interfere with Arab attacks on Jews, and many Arabs felt that as a majority, they had a Divine Right to oppress Jews. Besides, it was fun, and relatively risk-free.
Until, of course, the Jews began to fight back.
What is my feeling about the morality of all this? Well, for those Arabs who managed to kill a few Jews and the British who happily allowed themselves to be persuaded to fight against Jewish immigration, I have nothing but contempt. They killed hundreds of thousands or more innocent people who otherwise would have been allowed to move to what is now Israel.
On the other hand, the Jews who fought back often broke the law, and once we approve of such crimes in one case, we've established a precedent. I think people will indeed fight back even if doing so is a crime; I just think they have to be prepared to face the consequences. And some of these Israeli heroes paid very dearly for their deeds.
Given that the Arabs wanted to establish their right to oppress all Jews, they had few qualms about attacking "soft" targets. The stabbing to death of a couple of totally innocent and unarmed nurses is a good example. But the Jews who fought back had a problem. If they attacked soft targets, they would kill a few innocent people, but they would not accomplish much. If they failed to attack and kill anyone, the Arabs would simply slaughter them all. We see how a few Jews initially attacked people randomly in revenge for Arab attacks, but then quickly progressed to fighting against genuinely wicked and dangerous opponents.
I recommend this book.
Book Purchases Sep 1, 2005
The only problem with this transaction is that I check-off the "no charge delivery option" (as I always do) but I was still charged for the delivery! Something did not work correctly at your end of this relationship. Other than that, the two books are what I wanted and they are what I received.
Unknown history of Jerusalem Sep 23, 2003
Before this book I knew a little about Betar, the Irgun, etc. But I didn't know that blowing the shofar at the Western Wall on Yom Kippur was illegal and that every year the British put someone in jail for it. I didn't know about people like Moshe Seigal, who went on to become a rabbi. These are the heroes that "don't appear on stamps", many of whom are still around. For those who are alreday familiar with some Jabotinsky material, this book is focused on the 1920s and 1930s in Jerusalem as opposed to the more well known Begin period of the 1940's. Free Jerusalem definaetly fills in some blanks. The Israeli Army of today spawned from such humble beginnings. In today's Arab Israeli conflict the struggle for Jewish civil rights against the British empire is often forgotten, sometimes on purpose. That's what makes this book, and it's heroes so important. Written in English by a museum director from Israel, the book is fairly thin, easy to read, flows smoothly and can be understood by thsoe with or without a historical background. The old rare photos are great.
Deftly written, and "reader involving" Aug 9, 2003
Knowledgeably written by Zev Golan (a Nazi hunter who has worked with the Israeli police to capture infamous war criminals), Free Jerusalem: Heroes, Heroines And Rogues Who Created The State Of Israel is an historically accurate and quite dramatic history of the Zionist revolution and the events of history that led to the creation of the State of Israel, as well as that fledgling nation's imperiled beginnings. An enthusiastic, deftly written, and "reader involving" accounting of the heroic traits and foibles of the men and women who helped create the state Israel, Free Jerusalem is an enthusiastically recommended addition to Judaic Studies, International Studies, and Israeli History Studies reference collections and reading lists.