After watching the flick Munich I’ve been looking for a book on Israeli History for long, after looking for them online where I couldn’t succeed, I visited both Ahmedabad’s Landmark store and Crossword but to no avail for the books I was looking for, ‘Israel Is Real’ by Rich Cohen and ‘Vengeance’ by George Jonas were out of stock. But on one fine day I stuck upon this book named ‘O Jerusalem!’ by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins in the library and I can say that it was one of the best reads I have ever had. With 656 pages it seems to be a painful read but believe me that once you start reading it, it engrosses you to the extent that you will lose the count of time. With every single and minute detail of what might have conspired during the birth of the Jewish State of Israel in 1948 and its partition from Arab Palestine, this book clearly shows the effort put in by the authors during their 3 years of research for this book.
The narrative no doubt is fast paced, but is riveting to the very end. The authors have tried to trace the roots of the Arab-Jew conflict with accurate details. In one sense the story is quite moving, after suffering from Hitler’s holocaust which killed 6 million Jews in World War II, it shows the struggles faced by the Jews in 1948 against Arab hatred towards them. In another sense the authors have tried to justify this hatred from Arabs’ point of view that how Israel with the support of United Nations and the British Government have taken over that part of Palestine which belonged to the Arabs since 7 centuries. In short, the authors are neither pro Jews, nor pro Arabs. Both Arabs and the Jews have events in the book that evoke both condemnation and praise and still there is no ugly rhetoric against any one group or party and no emotional outbursts by the authors. The scene is put before you just like it happened. Each party in the war has their flaws and triumphs described without much aplomb or tears. The book is so fascinating that its like reading pulp fiction but the fact that it is all true gives you shudders.
Jewish leaders as mentioned in the book, David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, for them a Jewish homeland was not just a dream, it was their life’s ambition, their passion. I don’t much condone what Israel is doing in the present times with Lebanon and Palestine, but unless you understand the Jewish history, their background, their way of thinking, you just cannot make any headway in that issue. Since past, Israelis have been those people who will die for their land after all they have achieved their hard earned freedom after much efforts and in a dramatic way, dramatic in the sense that even after strong Arab opposition, they marked that piece of land right in the heart of the Arab world which they wanted as their own homeland, Israel, the only Jewish majority nation on the planet.
Talking about the Arabs as mentioned, just after the partition was announced the it was clear with them that now in front of them was an impeding war just as it was clear with the Jews. Even though Arabs were larger in number but the arms that Israel had far outnumbered theirs. Also it is shown how Arabs underestimated Jews resolve, they didn’t know how important for them was this hard earned piece of land, how strong was their feelings for their own state.
In short, by driving out Arabs from their centuries old land, Israelis conducted grave injustice towards them but also Arabs closed out all options of compromise by not recognizing the historical rights of the Jews towards the holy land.
If you want to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, this book is a must. In fact every person who wonders why the Israel-Palestine problem at the Gaza strip and elsewhere can never be solved, this book is a must. I would suggest this book to any person who likes quality reads.