The Rise of the Hebrew Republic
Israel’s odyssey over the last sixty years has been a remarkable cocktail of resilience, innovation and agony. Many Israelis agreed with David Grossman when he bemoaned Israel’s current path. ‘Look what befell the young, bold, passionate country we had here, and how, as if it had undergone a quickened ageing process, Israel lurched from infancy and youth to a perpetual state of gripe, weakness and sourness.’ No longer admired by the international community, there is still, however, a sense of tremendous excitement in Israel in what has been achieved through its rebellion against the designated place of the Jews in history. Despite all the flaws and the foibles of its leaders, the clash between religious and secular, Ashkenazi and Sephardi, there is still a sense of a voyage of discovery – and that the present is far better than the passivity and persecution of the past. In the words of the Soviet Yiddish poet, Itzik Pfeffer, the Jews have survived to dance on Hitler’s grave and to forge their own destiny.
Colin Shindler is Reader in Israeli and Modern Jewish Studies and chairman of the Centre for Jewish studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He was editor of the Jewish Quarterly (1985-1994) and of Judaism Today (1995-2001).His most recent books are The Triumph of Military Zionism: Nationalism and the Origins of the Israeli Right and What do Zionists Believe? His talk marked the publication of his History of Modern Israel by Cambridge University Press to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the founding of the state.