Israel, Likud and the Zionist Dream
by Colin Shindler
London: I.B. Taurus & Co., 1995. 324 pp.
Reviewed by Leora Aster
Middle East Quarterly
In a detailed survey of the origins and development of the Likud Party, Schindler, editor of Judaism Today, focuses on four leaders: Ze'ev Vladmir Jabotinsky, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Benjamin Netanyahu. The author says he intends less to write a political analysis of Likud than to understand how its leaders' personalities and ideologies molded party politics. His harsh critique of the Likud can be summed up by his phrase that its leaders' "world outlook came to define far-reaching and seemingly unfathomable decision-making."
Shindler portrays each leader as shaping an era of Likud history, from Jabotinsky's militancy and radicalism to Begin's emotionalism and extremism, Shamir's quiet immobility, and Netanyahu's more polished and less intransigent personality. At the same time, all have hewn to hard-line politics with the security of Israel as their dominant concern.
Shindler characterizes Jabotinsky, Likud's ideological founder, as a radical who advocated an ultranationalism consisting of absolute political and military strength. Begin, Israel's first Likud prime minister, is a complex figure made up of his own "pragmatism" and "a fundamentalist approach" acquired from Jabotinsky. The difficult negotiations over the Camp David accords illustrate this sometimes contradictory mix. The author surprisingly regards Shamir as considerably more moderate than Begin both in style and in political outlook. Looking to the future, Shindler questions current party leader Netanyahu's ability to achieve political consistency and stand firm in his beliefs; therefore, he fears for the future of the peace process should Netanyahu be elected prime minister.
Related Topics: June 1996 MEQ
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