today posts a review of two important books about Israel (The Rise of Israel: A History of a Revolutionary
State by Jonathan Adelman
and Israel and Its Army: From Cohesion to Confusion by Stuart A. Cohen
)--just in time time to serve as an antidote to the administration's recently (and embarrassingly) demonstrated misunderstanding of and impatience with the nation. The governing narrative of the Left regarding Israel and its remarkable successes has been an attempt to explain Israel's good fortunes and continued existence by suggesting that Israel victimizes Arabs.
Whatever one thinks of the continued Israeli/Palestinian conflict, this explanation of Israel's success is unsatisfactory and simple-minded. For it ignores basic facts and fails to answer obvious questions. Mac points to two of these in the opening paragraphs of this review: "Why was it that among all the
minorities of the Ottoman Empire (the Palestinian Jews, Lebanese
Christians, Armenians, and Kurds), only the Jews were
able to obtain a powerful state, when the others seemed better situated
in 1917?" and "Why did a state besieged by powerful and numerous enemies avoid
authoritarian, militarist society, such as Prussia or Sparta?"
Mac thinks these two books go a long way toward providing better answers to these questions than does the ideology permeating so much of our relations with the Jewish state.