By John Ostapkovich
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A new history of Israel has made waves from the get-go because it doesn’t go all the way back.
Historian Anita Shapira, of Tel Aviv University, admits straight-away that Israel: A History covers only the development of the modern Jewish state, starting with pogroms that drove many Jews from Russia beginning in 1881.
The British Protectorate provided an umbrella for nation-building and a welcome alternative for Jews under threat in 1930’s Europe.
“Here came an immigration of people not only in need but also with education, tools of building an economy, and a culture, and they brought enormous human capital,” Shapira said.
She looks at her own family, now with third-generation Israelis, as proof it has taken root.
“There is enormous power in the very fact that the state exists, and it creates its own magnetic power for people to love in it and stay in it.
World War Two, of course, brought the Holocaust, but Shapira says the State of Israel was founded shortly after, not because of it, but in spite of it.