Read The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust by Tom Segev Free Online
Book Title: The Seventh Million: The Israelis and the Holocaust|
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 3.48 MB
ISBN 13: 9780809085637
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2550 times
Reader ratings: 4.6
The author of the book: Tom Segev
Edition: Hill and Wang
Date of issue: April 1993
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A few questions raised by this book:
1. If Ben Gurion could realistically save only a limited number of Jews from the Holocaust, should he have simply saved whoever he could or tried to select those who would most benefit the struggling community in Palestine?
2. Given the realistic limitations on the Palestine yishuv in terms of saving Jews during the Holocaust, are they to blame for putting their local concerns first and responding with apparent passivity/indifference to the plight of European Jewry?
3. Does Israel's accepting war reparations funding from Germany imply that the losses of the Holocaust can be compensated? Does this absolve Germany of their responsibility? What should take precedence -- the practical benefits of accepting reparations, or the moral high ground?
4. Was Rudolph Kastner a hero for successfully negotiating with Eichmann to save a number of Hungarian Jews, or was he a villain for collaborating with the Nazis as well as keeping the rest of the Hungarian Jews uninformed and allowing them to go to their deaths?
5. Was Eichmann a devil, or was he simply a product of his environment?
6. To what extent was the cooperation of Jews who worked for the Nazis (Judenrat, Sonderkommando) responsible for the Holocaust?
7. Should Israel's response to the Holocaust be a preoccupation with self-protection, or should it be a preoccupation with preserving democracy, even when it comes to offering freedom to those whose presence appears to pose a threat? At what point can Israel's self-protective actions be criticized as resembling Nazi behavior?
Of course, no one can truly answer these questions. Segev explores these issues and others in depth, though, by offering a great deal of historical detail on these events which give the reader much food for thought. Through exploring the complicated relationship between the Holocaust and the state of Israel/Israeli culture, Tom Segev manages to convey a great deal not only about his chosen topic but about Israeli history in general.
If I were being entirely objective, I would probably award this book five stars. The breadth of Segev's research and his ability to communicate so much relevant information in a clear and engaging manner, even in translation, is truly commendable. The book was long without being repetitive; it consistently informed and expanded my horizons. I had to take off a star, though, for what I saw as an extremely, sometimes gratuitously, cynical attitude toward figures and institutions Israelis hold dear.
Concerning both Ben Gurion and Begin, Segev attributed self-serving political motives to actions that are usually viewed as ideologically driven. While I wouldn't rule out the possibility of self-serving motives influencing these choices, I feel that self-serving motives can co-exist with purer ones, something Segev seems to overlook in painting a rather bleak picture of these figures. And while most of Segev's information is relevant, he occasionally includes an anecdote about Ben Gurion or Begin which appears to serve exclusively ad hominem purposes.
I felt this in particular when Segev described the creation of Yad Vashem. My husband, who read the book years ago, offered what I thought was an apt analogy, that of attending a wedding. When you attend a wedding, you enjoy the lovely party, the ambiance, the fact that everyone looks happy, etc. In all likelihood, the family hosting the wedding went through a great deal of tension and conflict around the details; as a guest, though, you don't need to know all that and can simply enjoy the experience at face value. Similarly, Yad Vashem is a powerful monument to the Holocaust. Do I really need to know about all the pettiness and politics that went into creating it?
Segev's views on revisionism and political/ideological uses of the Holocaust by Israeli leaders and movements were similarly disillusioning. I'm all for intellectual honesty, and I'm not advocating revisionism myself. Segev seems to have a need to show us the dark and seamy side of things, though, and I'm not convinced that his views are any more balanced than the rosier ones.
That said, I think this book is a very important and worthy read for anyone interested in the history of Israel and in the impact of the Holocaust on Israeli consciousness. It manages to be both educational and accessible. Read it critically, but definitely read it if the subject interests you.
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Read information about the authorTom Segev (Hebrew: תום שגב) is an Israeli historian, author and journalist. He is associated with Israel's so-called New Historians, a group challenging many of the country's traditional narratives.
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