In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Book Reviews 155 Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1?48, by Anita Shapira. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. 446 pp. $59.00. Covering the years 1881 (the eve of the First 'Aliya) until 1948 (the birth of the State of Israel), Anita Shapira's Land and Power is about the attitudes/politics of the "New Yishuv" Oewish community of Palestine) visa -vis the Arabs that pertain to the use of force or the need to desist from it. The book, however, goes well beyond the designated topic to constitute a comprehensive political history of pre-1948 Palestine. The heaviest concentration is from the inception of the British Mandate onward. Two forms ofJewish national "ethos," or moral guiding principles, are highlighted: "defensive" and "offensive" ethos. The proponents of the "defensive ethos," forming the majority of mainstream Zionists, maintained that not only was Jewish colonization in Palestine fundamentally just, but it could also be implemented without causing serious injustice to the Arabs. Consequently, it seemed reasonable that such colonization be realized without recourse to physical force (p. 130). The Labor Zionists were the ones to lift the banner of national consensus over "defensive ethos," the heyday of which is subdivided in the book into three periods: 1922-1929 (until the 1929 riots); 1929-1932, and 1932-1936, the latter two periods dominated by relative stability and Jewish demographic expansion. The "offensive ethos" gained momentum during the 1936-1939 Arab Rebellion, though their effective emergence to the fore occurred after the end of 1942, when the Holocaust became a determining factor in the Yishuv's public mind. Proponents of the "offensive ethos" now grappled with the inevitability of Jew/Arab confrontation. Whereas until 1936 the advocates of the "offensive ethos" were predominantly Revisionist Zionists (see pp. 159 and 194)-among them Uri Zvi Greenberg, Abba Ahimeir, and Yehoshua Yeivin-who pushed for a policy of "frontal clash" with the Arabs, the post-1936 period witnessed support for the concept among more politically diverse and diversified groups. Numerous backers of the Labor Zionist political spectrum, members of the Hagana and Palmach (in addition to the Irgun Zeva'i Leumi and Lohame Herut Yisrael) expressed determination to embark on a decisive war to tip the scales of power in Palestine in the Jews' favor. Confident that the Yishuv was capable of fighting for its survival despite the radicalization ofArab political attitudes, and in the wake of the destruction of European Jewry, these forces also feIt obliged to force the British out of Palestine (pp. 358-359). 156 SHOFAR Spring 1994 Vol. 12, No.3 Another vital contributing factor to the "offensive ethos" in the twelve years preceding the creation of Israel is the coming of age of a Palestinian Jewish generation. The qualities of the warrior now distinguished this generation from the preceding one and endowed it with a special standing. The young generation was free of the ideological complexities and dogmas with which their fathers had been obsessed. Their attitude toward the Arabs was entirely direct, devoid of sympathy to such ideas as a union for Arab workers or Judeo-Arab understanding. As Shapira contends, by the time they reached maturity, the glass wall separating them from Palestinian Arab society had become a permanent fIXture. Not fearing the Arabs and portraying them as those attempting to "steal" Eretz-Yisrael from them, the new generation were ready to struggle for the land (see especially pp. 362-363). The book is lucidly written, well researched, based on extensive primary and secondary resources. The translation from the Hebrew edition by William Templer is outstanding. In my estimation this is perhaps the most conceptually sophisticated and thematically integrated work on the Yishuv recently written. Whether or not studies on the Yishuv, especially by Israeli scholars, are of high quality, they often lack this conceptual quality. Excellent examples from Hebrew literature by Hoveve-Zion and Zionist ideologues, poets, and essays on Jewish-Arab coexistence offer readers a special dimension about an age-old conflict. However, the book is not geared to an undergraduate audience. It will be useful for graduate students specializing on the Yishuv-Israel, Eastern/Central European Jewry, and pre...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 155-157
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.