The New New Israel Historians

(New York Times) Ethan Bronner - The new historians of the 1990s had an agenda - promoting the peace process then beginning. And many Israelis, eager to put an end to their century-old conflict, were willing to be told that their successful nation-building had come at a high cost to the Palestinians. But it went unreciprocated. There were virtually no Palestinian ''new historians'' asking whether their leader in the 1930s and 40s, Haj Amin al-Husseini, was right to collaborate with the Nazis, calling for the killing of Jews "wherever you find them." Today, few Israelis worry about the suffering of the Palestinians; they are too focused on their own. Into this very different context, two accounts of Israeli history take us back to a more traditional Zionist narrative, a kind of corrective to the corrective. Right to Exist, by Yaacov Lozowick, the director of archives at Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Museum, and The Case for Israel, by Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School, are polemics, not works of scholarship. But they are intelligent polemics. They don't seek to discredit the new history. Instead, they partly rely on it, while arguing vehemently - and fairly convincingly - that contemporary European and Arab discourse on the Middle East is indefensibly unbalanced against Israel.

2003-11-14 00:00:00

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