Terror Out of Zion: The Fight for Israeli Independence
"We fight, therefore we are." This revision of Cartesian wisdom was enunciated by the late premier of Israel, Menachim Begin. It is the leitmotif of this brilliant study of the military origins of modern Israel. J. Bowyer Bell argues that the members of Irgun, Lehi (the Stern Gang), and the Zionist underground in British mandated Palestine had clear motives for the violent path they took: the creation of a sovereign homeland for the Jewish people in oppressed lands. These advocates of terror pitted themselves against not only the British and the Arabs, but also against less violent brethren like Ben Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Yitzhak Rabin.
This is the definitive story of desperate, dedicated revolutionaries who were driven to conclude that lives must be taken if Israel were to live. The dynamite bombing of the King David Hotel, the assassination of Lord Moyne in Cairo, and Count Bernardotte ,in Palestine were but a few acts of terror which forced the British out of the Middle East. Terror Out of Zion evaluates whether these acts were extremist or necessary, and whether these men and women were fanatics or freedom fighters.
Terror Out of Zion serves as a primer for those who would understand contemporary political divisions in Israel. It is based on careful historical research and interviews with surviving members of the Irgun, chronicling bombings, assassinations, hah- breadth prison escapes, and endless cycles of retaliation in the terror that gave birth to Israel, but, no less, continues to inform its political relations. Bell has fashioned an adventure story that also explains the sources of current tensions and frictions within Israel.
Publishers' Weekly wrote that "Bell's book crackles with suspense and explodes with tales of carnage and violence; it could hardly be otherwise. Yet he writes with compassion and insight into the black despair that engendered the terrorist's brutal deeds." And a highly laudatory New York Times review said "excellent ... a skillfully written, fast-paced anecdotal narrative of one of the bloodiest and least documented chapters of Zionist history . . . the story is more than mere history; it is detailed portrait of the formulating experiences of Israel's new leadership."