March 11, 2008

Recommended Zionist Reading

Lone Wolf by Shmuel Katz
Newest, longest and most detailed biography of Jabotinsky. Katz weaves excerpts from letters and articles by Jabotinsky into the reading.

The Life and Times of Vladmir Jabotinsky by Joseph Shechtman
The first big english biography of Jabotinsky in two volumes. It is now overshadowed in detail by Shmuel Katz's Lone Wolf which is a newer two volume biography of Jabotinsky.

Samson by Ze'ev Jabotinsky
Historical fiction of the story of Samson. Jabotinsky said it wasn't meant to be political. At certain points, Samson, who married a Philistine seems accepted more by Philistine's than by Jews, which mirrors Jabotinsky's problems. Jabotinsky lacked many Jewish qualities, and was a prominant young author before joining the Zionist movement where he fought for the Jewish people for the rest of his life, but was the target of so much hateful propoganda by mainstream and socialist Zionists. But it does include some references to the Jewish situation which are still relevant today. for instance, Samson says Israel must get a King and iron - i.e. a state and a military. He also argues against civil war. Representatives of the tribe of Judah (Samson was from Dan) say how the tribe of Judah will carry the Israelite idea into the future.

Revisionist Zionism in America
A Race Against Death by David S. Wyman and Rafael Medoff
The introduction gives an excellent and brief history of Hillel Kook's fight to get the U.S. and U.S. Jewry mobilized to save European Jewry. The book itself is a collection of interviews Wyman had with Kook, which are extremely interesting and thought provoking, the appendix has some historical documents like the Treasury Department report on the complicity of the United States in the destruction of European Jewry.

Militant Zionism in America by Rafaell Medoff
One of the few detailed accounts of the growth of the revisionist movement in America.

Menachem Begin, the Irgun
Begin: His Life, Words and Deeds by Zvi Harry Hurwitz
A short and readable biography on Begin, by a friend and associate. Hurwitz writes that Begin said Jabotinky told Begin he should be the next leader of the movement.

Terror Out of Zion by J. Bowyer Bell
Probably the most authorotative history of the Irgun. Demonstrates how the Irgun's campaign directly led to the founding of the State of Israel.

The Revolt by Menachem Begin
Begin's account of the Irgun's successful campaign against the British. Important for it's strategy - Jabotinsky's principles of political activism and militarism at their extreme - as much as history.

General Histories of Zionism & Israel
A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to Our Time by Howard Sachar
A general history of Zionism and the State of Israel, doesn't discuss Jabotinsky or revisionism before the state enough, moderate-left viewpoint.
A History of Zionism by Walter Laqueur
A general history of Zionism, with a chapter on Jabotinsky and revisionism, moderate-left viewpoint).

The Zionist Idea edited by Arthur HerzbergA long introduction followed by an edited collection of articles and speeches by the most influential Zionists. Also includes one page briefs on the personalities.

Outline of Zionist History by R. Jack Tauber (zt"l) (written for Betar members in 1940, to be edited republished soon).

The Jewish State by Theodore Herzl
Obviously, a must read for Zionists. While Herzl writes many truths, such as the need for a state, about anti-semitism, the centrality of faith to Jewish nationality, the need for a Jewish company to undertake moving Jews and colonizing, he did have some wild ideas about the future state and didn't understand the importance of the Land of Israel (at least at the time he wrote it).

Religious Zionism

Lights on Orot by R. David Samson and Tzvi Fishman
The text and translation of Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hacohen Kook's Orot and a chapter by chapter commentary.

Eretz Yisrael in the Parshah by Moshe D. Lichtman


Perfidy by Ben Hecht
Hecht was a famous screenwriter (cowriter of Gone with the Wind) who, after writing articles bashing Jewish silence in the face of the Holocaust, was recruited by Hillel Kook to be a propogandist for the revisionist movement (to raise money for the Irgun and to save European Jewry). Prefidy is well-writen and conjures anger in any Jew who reads it - anger against the mainstream Zionist leadership for not doing enough to save European Jews in order to avoid angering the British and Arabs who didn't want European refugees banging on the gates of Palestine. While it is a must read, perhaps it should not be the first read for young Jews, especially those who don't understand the differences between Jabotinsky and Weizman and Ben-Gurion.

Summing Up by Yitzchak Shamir
An autobiography of his life from Lechi commander to prime minister of Israel. Shamir depicts himself as very passive in the face of Labor's gains after Begin's resignation.

The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul by Yoram Hazony
This book is a must read for Zionists. Hazony, then director of the Shalem Center, describes the war of Achad Haam, Judah Magnes and now the rest of Hebrew University against Jewish nationalism and religion. More than invoking merely Herzl's The Jewish State in the title, it actually makes a good campanion to Herzl's manifesto as Hazony contrasts Herzl's philosophy of Jewish government with that of Rouseou. Hazony also demonstrates how Herzl, in The Jewish State and in deed, accepted the importance of religion to Jewish identity.

One fault with the book, which isn't major, is that Hazony views Ben-Gurion's flip-flopping on every major issue as a positive trait. While Hazony recognizes the correctness of Jabotinsky's views, he doesn't seem to embrace Jabotinsky himself, perhaps wishing to cling to the suppossed majesty of Ben-Gurion and Labor Zionism.