Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Archaeological Garden at the Begin Center

CITYsights: Buried treasure in Begin’s backyard

For the fifth episode of iTravelJerusalem’s CITYsights, we head westward into modern Jerusalem, to a surprising site located just to the west of the Old City, at Ketef Hinom, literally in the backyard of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center.
If in previous episodes we delved into the City of David to see what life was like inside First Temple-era Jerusalem, in this week’s video we take a look at a series of burial caves in the suburbs of the biblical city. These caves, which were excavated in the 1970s by archaeologist Gabriel Barkay, revealed a plethora of fascinating artifacts, including many fully intact earthenware jugs and jewelry.

However, the most important find was a pair of silver amulets with scrolls bearing biblical inscriptions, including the Priestly Blessing, which is recited in synagogues to this day. These tiny slips of parchment predate the Dead Sea Scrolls by some 700 years, making them the oldest biblical manuscripts yet uncovered.

Check out the video for the full story and stay tuned for more episodes of CITYsights.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Have the Camp David Accords Expired?

Moussa: Camp David Accords have expired

The Camp David Accords signed between Egypt and Israel have expired, Arab League chief and potential Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa has said.

According to an Egyptian news website, Masrawy, Moussa, who participated in the negotiations with Israel in 1978, gave these statements during a discussion with Egyptian youth sponsored by Masrawy.

The Camp David Accords have expired and they do not govern the situation now, he said.

"What governs the relationship between the two countries is the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the Egyptian-Israeli treaty," he continued.

Saudi Arabia launched an Arab peace initiative in 2002 that called for the establishment of an internationally-recognized Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, the return of Palestinian refugees and Israel's withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for Arab normalization with Israel.

Moussa was not clear about which treaty he referred to, but he most likely meant the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed on 26 March 1979 in Washington D.C., which is a development of the broader framework agreed upon in the Camp David Accords.

This peace treaty stipulates that each state recognize the other, that the extended war between Arabs and Israel should stop and that Israel withdraw its troops, machinery and settlers from the Sinai Peninsula.

Former President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the Camp David Accords on 17 September 1978, 13 days after secret negotiations at the US presidential retreat in Maryland.

Egypt and Israel have since had what analysts describe as "cold peace."

And also this:

Poll: Over half of Egyptians want to cancel peace treaty with Israel

Only 36 percent of Egyptians are in favor of maintaining the treaty, according to U.S.-based polling company.

More than half of all Egyptians would like to see the 1979 peace treaty with Israel annulled, according to results of a poll conducted by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center released Monday.

According to the poll results, only 36 percent of Egyptians are in favor of maintaining the treaty, compared with 54 percent who would like to see it scrapped.

Egyptian leader Sadat raises a toast with U.S. President Carter and IsraeliPrime Minister Menachem Begin, March 26, 1979

The poll highlights the deep unpopularity of the three-decade-old treaty, which was scrupulously adhered to by former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted February 11.

The poll, based on interviews with 1,000 Egyptians around the country, was conducted between March 24 and April 7 as part of the Spring 2011 Pew Global. Attitudes survey that was conducted in 22 countries. The poll has a sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Opinions varied according to income, with 60 percent of lower income Egyptians supporting the treaty's cancellation while only 45 percent of the wealthier classes thinking it should be done away with.

Only 40 percent of Egyptians with a college education thought the treaty should be scrapped, as well.


Minister Vilnai Errs

It was reported that

Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilna'i on Saturday called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to work towards the creation of a Palestinian state.

"The prime minister needs to behave like [former prime minister] Menachem Begin, who acted against the opinions of many in his party, and to [work towards] establishing a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel," Vilna'i said an event in Holon.

Even assuming Minister Vilnai's sentence structure and syntax are wrong and that Mr. Vilnai did not mean to assert that former Prime Minister Begin actually worked to establish a "Palestinian state", nevertheless it should be clear that Begin negated any political development that would establsih a "Palestinian state".


Friday, April 22, 2011

Book Review on New Book on the Herut Movement

The Begin Center published a new book, in Hebrew, a collection of essays on the history of the Herut Movement.

Here is a review:

How the Likud Came to Be
By Elliot Jager

The party faithful who gathered in Tel Aviv on April 14 for a pre-Passover toast heard Benjamin Netanyahu announce that he would amplify Israel's security-and-peace principles at a joint session of the U.S. Congress next month. Surveying the crowd from the podium, the prime minister no doubt took comfort from a recent survey showing that 76 percent of Likud members opposed annexing all of Judea and Samaria. Yet he would also have known that 10,000 party recruits had been newly signed up by uncompromising settler leaders. How, then, to keep the Likud ("Union") together, and in the center of Israel's political mainstream?

In bridging the gap between ideological purism and political realism, the needs of security and the quest for peace, Netanyahu follows in the footsteps of the party's founder Menachem Begin. This much and more become clear in a new collection of essays on the evolution of Israel's Right, From the Altalena to the Present Day (Hebrew), edited by the political scientist Abraham Diskin.

Begin formed the Herut ("Freedom") party—the antecedent of Likud—on May 14, 1948, the day the state was declared. This in itself marked a victory of pragmatism over zeal. Historically, as Herzl Makov, chairman of the Menachem Begin Heritage Center, points out in the book's preface, competing underground factions—like, for instance, Begin's pre-state Irgun and David Ben-Gurion's Haganah—have gone on fighting each other long after the struggle for liberation is won. Yet even after the Haganah fired upon and sank the Irgun arms ship Altalena off Tel Aviv on June 6, 1948, Begin was determined that among Zionists, at least, there would be no civil war. From that day forward, he committed his movement to occupy the center-right position within Israel's parliamentary democracy.

From the first, the deck was stacked against him. Ben-Gurion's Mapai faction, a major element in the labor movement that dominated both the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency and the Histadrut workers federation, captured a 46-seat plurality in the first Knesset elections in January 1949; Herut won a total of 14 mandates. This radical imbalance remained essentially unchanged until 1977.

As for Ben-Gurion himself, not only did he rule out any political reconciliation between the Begin-led camp and his own Laborites; he pledged to ostracize Herut forever by keeping it out of any Labor-led coalition government. So deep did his personal animosity run that in Knesset debates he would refer to Begin only as "the man sitting next to Dr. Yohanan Bader."

Paradoxically, this campaign to blacklist him only further spurred Begin's resolve to keep Herut in the political mainstream. In doing so, he had to overcome the opposition of the Revisionist party, which claimed to be the true standard-bearer of the Zionist Right and the most faithful to the ideology of the Right's founding father and presiding genius, Ze'ev Jabotinsky (1880-1940). Ultimately, though, the Revisionists, like the even smaller Freedom Fighters for Israel (Lehi), would be absorbed into Herut.

The quarantine into which Ben-Gurion had placed Begin started to disintegrate as early as 1954 as a result of the political fallout from a botched Israeli intelligence operation in Egypt known as the Lavon Affair. A decade later, with the Laborites bickering among themselves and Ben-Gurion himself out of power, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol permitted Jabotinsky's remains to be brought to Israel and interred on Mount Herzl, not far from the gravesite of Herzl himself.

In 1965, Begin orchestrated an alignment with the centrist Liberal party to form Gahal ("Herut-Liberal Bloc"), which garnered 26 mandates in that year's elections. It was the entry of Gahal into the Labor-led national-unity government just before the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day war that permanently broke Begin free from his political isolation. As a cabinet minister without portfolio, he rejoiced over the IDF's liberation of Judea and Samaria.

In due course, however, Begin quit the government, now headed by Golda Meir, to protest its initial acceptance of a 1969 American plan that would have brought the Soviet Union into peace negotiations on the side of the Arabs. Four years later, after the devastating 1973 Yom Kippur war, with Labor's authority increasingly called into question, Begin joined forces with Ariel Sharon to mastermind the birth of the Likud out of Gahal and several smaller factions. His political savvy was vindicated in 1977 with the Likud's smashing electoral victory, overturning Labor's decades-long monopoly on power.

To accomplish this feat, Begin had pulled together settlers, security hawks, predominantly Ashkenazi proponents of a free-market economy, and working-class Sephardim tethered to the welfare state. He reinforced this amalgamation in 1981 by solidifying Orthodox backing for a second term.

The glue that held it all together was the electorate's overriding distrust of Arab intentions. But that did not translate into a corresponding rigidity on Begin's part. The prime minister, writes his former cabinet secretary Arye Naor in From the Altalena to the Present Day, was determined to stay in step with Israel's (shifting) political center, even if that required jettisoning down-the-line ideological purism. His maneuvering did not come without costs. In 1979, his former comrade-in-arms Shmuel Katz left the government over Begin's willingness to trade Sinai land in return for peace with Egypt; Geulah Cohen, another old colleague, broke away to help form the Tehiya party.

A seeming anomaly in this pattern was Begin's 1981 decision to have the Knesset suddenly annex the Golan Heights. But this may have been less the result of hard-line principle than of pique at the Reagan administration, then in the process of selling advanced military weapons to Saudi Arabia while threatening to embargo military aid to Israel over its destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor.

Begin resigned the premiership in the aftermath of the botched 1982 campaign in Lebanon, but the story of his years in power is the story of all subsequent Likud prime ministers. Under Yitzhak Shamir, Likud demonstrated far greater ideological steadfastness than under Begin, but even Shamir could not avoid being dragged by U.S. pressure to the 1991 Madrid talks, aimed at achieving a permanent resolution of the Palestinian issue. In the mid-90s, in his own first administration, Netanyahu not only failed to renounce Israel's commitments to the fatally flawed 1993 Oslo Accords but carried out a partial pullback from the West Bank city of Hebron. In 2003, in the midst of the second intifada, Ariel Sharon campaigned as a "Leader for Peace" and accepted the U.S.-backed Roadmap that foresaw the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state. In 2005, when the party rank-and-file repeatedly voted against Sharon's plan to disengage from Gaza unilaterally, he defected to form Kadima.

Netanyahu has now been back in power for two years, once again juggling the demands of his right-wing coalition against those of Israel's fickle international allies. If From the Altalena to the Present Day is any guide, he will continue to navigate the Likud toward the political center—where most voters are—by espousing strength through security along with pliability on the diplomatic front. Like his predecessors, he will strive to bridge the gap between purism and the pragmatic needs of the moment.

This moment, our moment, promises to be as difficult and as hazardous as any faced by any prime minister of Israel since the state's inception.

An 1882 Map and the Begin Center

This is a map of the general area of the Begin Center published in 1882 by the German H. Guthe:

The landmarks marked are:

1. The windmill constructed by Sir Moses Montiefore in 1857

2. The Jewish neighborhood of Mishkenot Sha'ananim built on a plot of land bought in 1855.

3. The St. John's Opthamalmic Hospital

4. The Turkish Tower which later became the site of the British Consulate, overlooking St. Andrew's Church.

The plot of land upon which the Begin Center was constructed with the Church in the background:


Sunday, April 17, 2011

An Academic Research Paper

Electoral Rhetoric and Political Polarization: The Begin-Peres Debates

Dan Caspi
European Journal of Communication December 1986 vol. 1 no. 4 447-462


The article is based on a political-stylistic analysis of the first televised debates in Israel, which took place in 1977 and 1981 between Menachem Begin and Shimon Peres. It examines how the Israeli parliamentary democracy adapted and changed the debate format which originated in American presidential elections. The rhetorical strategies of the two candidates are then identified and compared to determine whether they are idiosyncratic or anchored in contrasts between their rival ideologies, focusing especially on the `spheres of polarization' by which their verbal behaviours were shaped.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Book Review of "Peace in the Making"


If diaries, journals and memoirs that reveal the unaltered, dare I say gossipy aspect of history are the kind of books you are drawn to, Peace in the Making (The Menachem Begin-Anwar El-Sadat Personal Correspondence) is a book that will definitely interest you. It is a breathtaking collection of letters, transcripts of speeches, press conferences, interviews, photos and official documents. The echoes of the two men resound throughout this book and laid bare are the intricacies of the relationship forged between them and the courageous path they finally took leading two nations to peace with the historic agreement they signed. The two editors, Harry Hurwitz and Yisrael Medad, of this compilation are to be complimented for an invaluable contribution to our knowledge of this watershed moment. Whether you were in Israel when this all happened or at another point on the globe, this book deserves to be on your bookshelf.

(Published by Gefen Publishing House/ Menachem Begin Heritage Center, Jerusalem)

Pnina Kass is the author of children's books (BERALE series/Hebrew/KETER) and of the prizewinning novel, REAL TIME (English/Clarion-Houghton Mifflin). Originally from the U.S., she has been in Israel 44 years. www.pninamoedkass.com


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Begin Meets Rep. Eric Cantor via Minister Kahalon

On a recent trip to Washington, Minister of Communciation and Social Affairs Moshe Kachlon met Representative Eric Cantor, 112th Congress House Majority Leader, and presented him with a copy of Menachem Begin's classic social justice and personal freedom tract.


On the Episode of the "Two Sergeants"

[what] the impact of this grim episode? It had a completely disproportionate effect in convincing the British authorities that the longer it continued the greater the danger of a breakdown of discipline in the security forces.

According to the historian Ritchie Ovendale, it was the Exodus episode, together with the hanging of the two sergeants, that finally convinced the Labour government to surrender the Mandate and withdraw British forces from Palestine.


Menachem Begin As Goldstone's Model


Goldstone’s acceptance of these closed investigations by the Israeli military of itself represented a dramatic turnaround. In an in-depth interview with the Forward in October 2009, he explicitly rejected such probes as inherently flawed.

“If I was advising Israel, I would say have open investigations,” he told the Forward then. He offered the example of Israel’s investigation into the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacres by an independent panel appointed by Prime Minister Menachem Begin as a model to emulate. The call for an open and independent investigation was one he repeated at his May meeting in South Africa, citing this as “the first and primary” recommendation of his U.N. report.

To those who know Goldstone, this willingness to relax his initial standards indicates a desire to soften the impact of his report on Israel, in particular as the enormity of this impact was driven home to him.


Deir Yassin Victims Numbers Go Up

How many Arabs died at the battle of Deir Yassin on April 9, 1948?

Here's one version:

Palestinians Mark 63 Years since Deir Yassin Massacre Date

RAMALLAH, April 9, 2011 (WAFA) –Palestinians marked Saturday 63 years since Jewish armed groups had committed the Deir Yassin massacre in 1948, which sparked widespread Palestinian exodus from their homes in several Palestinian villages in fear of similar massacres.

Over 300 Palestinian men, women, children and elderly were systematically massacred by Jewish gangs headed by former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The massacre occurred in spite of peace agreement between the villagers and the leaders of neighboring Jewish settlements.

Deir Yassin was located on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. It has been destroyed since then and currently named Givat Shaoul.

However, this is pure propaganda.

For example, the main promoters and advocates of the memory of Deir Yassin only claim 107 dead:

“The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people. The invasion occurred as Jewish militia sought to relieve the blockade of Jerusalem during the civil war that preceded the end of British rule in Palestine. Around 107 Palestinian villagers and four Israeli soldiers were killed during the battle.”

History in the Middle East conflict between Jews and Arabs is quite problematic.

The Begin Center response to Deir Yassin and whether it was a massacre is here.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Schindler Then; Jacobs Now?

Found in

We Have a Problem, but Rick Jacobs Isn’t It

By J.J. Goldberg

Thirty-four years ago, when Menachem Begin first led the Likud to power in Israel, it was Rabbi Alexander Schindler, the leader of Reform Judaism, who reached out to embrace him. In doing so, Schindler averted a crisis in relations between America’s liberal-leaning Jewish community and an Israel where the right was newly ascendant. This would be a good time for Benjamin Netanyahu to return the favor.

The recent selection of Rabbi Richard Jacobs as Reform Judaism’s next leader is causing a bit of a stir. It’s mostly just a murmur, actually, but it’s worth watching. Some critics worry that in choosing Jacobs as its president-designate, the Union for Reform Judaism is signaling a sharp turn leftward. Some even fret that the liberal denomination is returning to its pre-World War I anti-Zionism.

Actually, that is a misleading portrayal.

At the time, Rabbi Schindler served as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and it was the responsibility that rested upon him in that position that made him realize he needed to be less a Reform Rabbi and more a representative leader of American Jewry.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Review on the Revisionist Zionist Movement

Zionist History / The path to secession

A rare study of the Revisionist movement in the critical years leading up to the Holocaust examines how Jabotinsky's unwavering belief that Zionism must move toward statehood indirectly contributed to his movement's growing alienation from the majority.

By Yechiam Weitz

Se'ara Mesaya'at:Hatnua Harevizionistit Bashanim 1925-1940 (A Useful Storm: The Revisionist Movement 1925-1940 ), by Rinatya Robinson. Yad Ben-Zvi Press and the Jabotinsky Institute (Hebrew ), 344 pages, NIS 99

Herut, the nationalist party founded by Menachem Begin, has, in the form of its successor, Likud, been the ruling party for more than a generation - almost as long as the previous ruling party, Mapai and its successor, the Labor Party. Nonetheless, historical research about Herut and the Revisionist movement, from which the party sprang, has proceeded at a slow pace. Very few doctoral theses have been written about it, and the fact that Rinatya Robinson's thesis is now being published as a book should be cause for celebration among researchers of the Zionist right.

"A Useful Storm" deals with the movement's earliest period - from the founding convention of the Union of Revisionist Zionists, held in Paris in April 1925, to the 1940 death, at age 59, of Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the movement's founder and leader. The organization was founded as an ideological body clearly connected to the Zionism of Theodor Herzl and as a political body opposed to the official Zionist policy, which was identified with the Zionist movement's leader, Chaim Weizmann.

The opposition focused on Weizmann's positive attitude toward Britain and the large amount of aid given by the movement he headed to rural cooperative settlement in Palestine. Jabotinsky and his followers argued that urban settlement should also receive assistance. They said the pioneers living in Tel Aviv were just as important to the Zionist project as those in Kibbutz Ein Harod and Moshav Nahalal. Their organization also held that the mainstream Zionist movement's leadership was operating without a broad vision (Jabotinsky defined its narrow approach as "concern for the moment" ). The Revisionists demanded avoidance of "actions for the moment," such as settling the land, and instead urged a focus on the main issue: advancing the idea of statehood.

Despite its oppositionist positions, the Union of Revisionist Zionists saw itself as operating within the framework of Weizmann's World Zionist Organization. The resolutions of the union's founding convention "show a clear connection between the movement and the WZO," writes Robinson, who received her doctorate from the Hebrew University. It was decided that "the demands regarding the appointment of a high commissioner, supervision of Jewish immigration and the transfer of uncultivated real estate in the Land of Israel ... would be brought up for discussion by the WZO."

Over the years, the partial affinity with the WZO gradually dissipated. In 1927, for example, the Union of Revisionist Zionists agreed to pursue its political goals "in a way that will ensure the justified right of way of the Zionist Executive regarding matters of foreign relations." But only a year later, Jabotinsky proposed establishing a Revisionist political office in London to pursue an independent policy that ran counter to that of the mainstream Zionist movement. His proposal led to disputes with moderates among the Revisionists, such as Meir Grossman, who had previously been Jabotinsky's close aide. In order to prevent an internal crisis, Jabotinsky stressed that the Zionist Executive had priority when it came to diplomatic activity.

Jabotinsky's desire to quit the WZO grew during the days of the 17th Zionist Congress, which was held in the summer of 1931 in Basel. More than 20 percent of the delegates were Revisionists, three times the faction's strength in previous conventions, and they attempted to pass a sweeping resolution saying the Zionist movement's ultimate goal was to establish a Jewish state. But the Revisionists suffered a bitter defeat, winning only about one third of the votes and losing support even from allies like Menachem Ussishkin.

Jabotinsky's reaction was pointed and dramatic. He rose, tore up his delegate's card and swept out of the hall in a rage, surrounded by the other Revisionist delegates. The walkout left the congress dumbstruck and taught Menachem Begin a lifelong lesson. Begin, who represented himself as Jabotinsky's disciple throughout his political career, never did the equivalent of tearing up his delegate's card, taking care to follow the rules of the game even when he disagreed with the other players.

After events at the congress, the inclination to secede picked up momentum, and at the same time the internal dissension among the Revisionists also increased. At the movement's international council, held in March of 1933 in the Polish city of Katowice, Jabotinsky spoke about the primacy that should be granted to the Revisionists over the Zionist movement and the importance of his movement's political sovereignty. He tried to bring into the organization's directorate people who supported his path, "on the grounds that the makeup of the directorate does not reflect the opinions in the movement" (most of the members of the directorate were decidedly against breaking away from the mainstream Zionist movement ). The discussions of the council ended without a resolution and with a sense of total rift; Yohanan Bader, who participated there as a young delegate, wrote of this that "the schism was already sensed in the air."

Jabotinsky's reaction to the dead end at the council was drastic: He published a manifesto in which he declared the dissolution of the movement's institutions and his takeover of all its responsibilities. In an organizational referendum held to decide on the moves, one that was boycotted by Grossman and his people, Jabotinsky won an absolute majority (94 percent ). The radical elements in the movement, like Abba Ahimeir and his associates, "saw boldness in Jabotinsky's move, in the manner of leaders of national movements in the history of nations." Ahimeir viewed Jabotinsky's non-democratic methods as a personal achievement. Robinson writes: "He had wanted since its inception for Jabotinsky to act like a dictator, a title Jabotinsky found repugnant and by which he refused to be called."

Nonethless, Jabotinsky became a solitary leader - a fact his disciples prefer to ignore. Grossman argued bluntly that "Mr. Jabotinsky's dictatorship is really comic. This is a putsch and nothing more." Even Jabotinsky's most devoted disciples were flabbergasted by his conduct. Shmuel Katz, who was one of the heads of the Revisionist movement in South Africa at the time, wrote in a biography of Jabotinsky called "Lone Wolf" that he had been alarmed and horrified by Jabotinsky's takeover of the movement.

After the referendum, Grossman and his supporters quit the Revisionists, creating a breakaway party called the Hebrew State Party, which was the only group in the WZO that adhered to Revisionist ideology once the Jabotinsky Revisionists left, in 1933. It was Jabotinsky who had pushed Grossman's group to secede, but from his perspective that action was quite a blow. Robinson writes that the Grossman supporters had been considered "pillars" of the Revisionist movement "who had contributed much to the movement's development."

In the 1930s, when Jabotinsky was facing members of the radical younger generation who had not accepted his political way - including Avraham Stern, Menachem Begin, Israel Eldad and Shmuel Marlin - his political standing was hurt by the absence of activists with moderate leanings.

The 18th Zionist Congress, held in 1933, was the last one in which the Union of Revisionist Zionists participated. For them it was a depressing experience. They failed in the elections to the Congress and saw sadly how Mapai managed to take control of the WZO. After the congress, the Revisionist leaders took new steps, the most significant of which was the establishment of the National Workers Organization (Histadrut Ha'ovdim Haleumit ), an act that was "the first organizational move toward resignation from the WZO and its institutions."

Uniqueness of the way
In 1935 the New Zionist Organization established by the Revisionists, of which Jabotinsky was the president, held its founding congress. He spoke about how the new group differed from other Zionist groups on issues including its attitude toward Germany. Whereas the Jewish Agency had signed a "transfer agreement" with the Third Reich, to arrange the immigration of German Jews to the Land of Israel, as well as the transfer of their property, the Revisionists took the extreme and non-pragmatic stance of supporting a boycott of Germany and its economy. This impaired efforts to get Jews out of Germany, an increasingly important goal as their situation worsened with the 1935 Nuremberg Laws.

"A Useful Storm" makes the argument that the Revisionists were aware of what was happening and realized that German Jews were in increasingly dire straits. At a time when it was looking more and more like the Revisionists were going to pull out of the WZO and they were trying to expand their membership, the movement saw widespread support for the boycott - and not only among Revisionists - as a measure of its strength and appeal. Its stance on the boycott gave the movement's leaders the sense that they had extensive public backing in Palestine and elsewhere. Indeed, the book's title comes from an article Jabotinsky wrote in the early 1930s, in which he argued that the "storm" in Europe could be useful to the Zionist project.

Robinson also shows how the Revisionists used the subject of the worsening situation of European Jewry as a tool to emphasize their uniqueness as a Zionist movement, with the goal of chipping away at the official status of the Jewish Agency, which derived from the writ of the British Mandate. In another attempt to undermine the Jewish Agency while using the period leading up to the Holocaust to further their own goals, the Revisionists sought to submit petitions about the worsening situation in Europe to international organizations and states "that were involved in the fate of the Jewish people" and establish direct connections with the League of Nations and with Britain behind the Jewish Agency's back.

"A Useful Storm" is an interesting read and contains quite a number of new insights. It constitutes a significant contribution to the research on the Revisionist movement and especially to the understanding of its political path during the first period of its history.

Prof. Yechiam Weitz is a historian.