1949: The First Israelis

In This Review

1949: The First Israelis

By Tom Segev
Free Press, 1986
379 pp. $19.95

This book created a stir when first published in Israel, as it gives what might be called the seamy side of the first years of Israel's independence, a contrast to many of the Zionist ideals and to the common idealized picture of that heroic period. The author, a journalist and historian, has delved into recently available archival material to document his account of such issues as the negotiation of the armistice accords, the flight of Arab refugees and the treatment of the remaining Arab minority, attitudes toward the new and mostly oriental Jewish immigrants, the struggle between the orthodox and the secular, and the erosion of personal and civic standards. Some members of the founding generation (e.g., Sharett, Eshkol, Meir) appear of rather less than heroic stature.

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