David Cesarani

The Root of Conflict

1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

By

Yale University Press 524pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

Until the 1980s, the literature on Israel’s history was dominated by respectful biographies of the country’s founders and turgid multi-volume histories of central institutions such as the army and the kibbutzim. But the shock of the Yom Kippur War and the end of the Labour Party’s political hegemony primed a new generation to look more critically at the familiar record. The declassification of government documents pertaining to the early years of statehood provided plenty of material. Within a few years a clutch of revisionist histories appeared that attacked every sacred cow. The standard-bearer of the revisionists was Benny Morris, who dismissed pretty much everything written up to that point as ‘official history’.

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