The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel

In This Review

The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel
By Martin van Creveld
Thomas Dunne Books, 2010
368 pp. $26.99
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In this book, van Creveld, Israel’s preeminent military historian and theorist, moves beyond his specialization to present a broad-ranging history of modern Israel. The flow of history is well captured in five narrative chapters offering an interesting periodization of the evolving attitudes and actions of Israelis, from the rise of Zionism to the present. Van Creveld provides a Dutch uncle’s rendering of his subject. Sardonic and given to stinging judgments, he does not stint in presenting the flaws of Israeli leaders and the prejudices and paranoia of Israelis. There is not a whiff of hagiography in his treatment of Israel’s leaders or people. The Land of Blood and Honey is not, however, an example of Israeli revisionist history. Van Creveld engages in no hand-wringing concerning Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, past or present. Indeed, the focus throughout is Israel, its economic developments, Orthodox-secular tensions, the “Americanization” of Israeli culture, and much more. As for Israel and the Palestinians, van Creveld favored the building of Israel’s security fence, deplores the settlements movement, and sees the creation of a Palestinian state along essentially pre-1967 lines not so much as justice for Palestinians but as essential to Israel remaining the Jewish state.