What happened at Lydda

In his celebrated new book, Ari Shavit claims that “Zionism” committed a massacre in July 1948. Can the claim withstand scrutiny?

By MARTIN KRAMER/ MOSAIC
July 3, 2014 14:35
1 minute read.
 An Israeli soldier in central Lydda in July 1948

An Israeli soldier in central Lydda in July 1948. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Martin Kramer writes for Mosaic

Perhaps no book by an Israeli has ever been promoted as massively in America as My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel, by the Ha’aretz columnist and editorial-board member Ari Shavit. The pre-publication blitz began in May 2013, when the author received the first-ever Natan Fund book award, which included an earmark of $35,000 to promote and publicize the book. The prize committee was co-chaired by the columnist Jeffrey Goldberg and Franklin Foer, editor of the New Republic; among its members was the New York Times columnist David Brooks. Not only was the choice of Shavit “unanimous and enthusiastic,” but Goldberg and Foer also supplied florid blurbs for the book jacket. Goldberg: “a beautiful, mesmerizing, morally serious, and vexing book,” for which “I’ve been waiting most of my adult life.” Foer: “epic history . . . beautifully written, dramatically rendered, full of moral complexity . . . mind-blowing, trustworthy insights.”

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Upon publication last November, the book proceeded to receive no fewer than three glowing encomia in the Times from the columnist Thomas Friedman (“must-read”), the paper’s literary critic Dwight Garner (“reads like a love story and thriller at once”), and the New Republic‘s literary editor Leon Wieseltier (“important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read”). From there it jumped to the Times’s “100 Notable Books of 2013” and to the non-fiction bestseller list, where it spent a total of six weeks.

Read the rest of the essay and debate at Mosaic

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