Once upon a time, in that strangely distant era known as the 1970s, American Larry Collins and Frenchman Dominique Lapierre collaborated on a book about the birth of Israel. Impeccably researched and written in the sort of fast-paced, novelistic style that is often described as “bringing history to life,” the book—dubbed, with a biblical flourish, O Jerusalem—was an immediate critical and popular success and has remained in print since, selling more than 30 million copies to date.
It’s hard now to imagine a time when Israel wasn’t “the most despised and also the most unattractive country in the world,” as Doron Rosenblum recently put it in a satirical piece in Ha’aretz. Hard to imagine a time when anyone really believed that just telling the facts of history straight would be enough to persuade the people of liberal Europe that Israel not only had the right to exist, but that the nation’s origins were not rooted in an ancient Jewish longing to perpetrate genocide on the Palestinian inhabitants of this stony land. Hard to imagine a United Nations that voted for Partition instead of passing yet another resolution against Israel, with the United States the lone voice of dissent.
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