Out of Palestine: The Making of Modern Israel

Out of Palestine book coverThe book features interviews with Arabs, Palestinians, Jews, and English political figures who are crucial in creating the Jewish state in 1948. The author, Hadara Lazar, is a well-known Israeli journalist. She has been interviewing people who were able to witness 1948’s historic events. Those she interviewed have lived in the British Madate. Jewish State’s founding is said to be more like a work of history rather than a founded by a group of distinct voices. She was able to interview housewives, teachers, soldiers, intellectuals, policemen, and lawyers. She personally visits them in their homes and offices and gets to know them better. Basically, her book gives a narrative on how Israel came to be Israel.

The rule of the British over Palestine went on for almost three decades. This may just be a fraction of how old the country is since it is almost three thousand years old. But no matter how tiny this event is in the country’s history, its influence is indeed wide-ranging and deep. Palestine actually became a political unit and they made Jerusalem its capital. They brought about a civil society and introduced professional civil service. They build airfields and roads, and provided police and legal institutions.

This frame of rule by the British came from the mandate that was conferred by the League of Nations on Britain. It was a transitory trusteeship so as to prepare Palestine to be the Jews’ national home without disregarding the religious and civil rights of the indigenous Arabs. While this task may be contradictory, it was deeply embedded in “The Mandate”. This mandate was actually the reason why the term Palestine was revived. It is an old term actually that describes the area between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River.

This mandate did not provide political independence and collective liberty. It did not bring elections for the localities that would be under the control of the British. But the sense of personal freedom was widely felt. Since the Millet system of the Ottoman Empire, the mandate paved way for religious communities to achieve internal autonomy.

In Lazar’s book she succeeds in narrating her interviewees’ accounts vividly. She did not just interview recceptionists in the King David Hotel but instead, she provided clients’accounts. At times, her British interviewees seem to be distant but Lazar is a quick and good observer. She looked at jews being single-minded fanatics. But in reality, that might not be the reason why they are irritated. The British tend to make use of their sense of snobbism more so the result is them feeling an air of intellectual superiority.

Basically, the book of Lazar is not really about comparative colonialism. It is more about the mandate. With all the historical memories she have gathered from the interviews, she was able to weave them into tales of morality. In reading this book, you can’t help but compare the Israel rule to other colonial rules. Sometimes, you may think that the mandate is good, sometimes not. The book definitely scratches parts of the readers’ minds which keep them interested.

About the Author

Hadara Lazar was born in Haifa, Israel. She is the author of five novels, and her two non-fiction books explore life in Israel and British-Mandate-era Palestine. She lives in Tel Aviv.

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