Sunday, June 1, 2008

A slice of history

They say history is written by the victors. But who are they? We tend to think of battles and conflicts as having two monolithic sides, but this is rarely the case. Almost always, the main parties themselves suffer divisions and disagreements, and these usually carry on long past the end of the fighting itself. So history is often written by the victors among the victors, who tend to remove or bury those slices they find distasteful.

David Bogner, again blogging toward Yom Yerushalayim (which begins tonight) has posted this translation of an amazing and disturbing account of the battle for the Old City of Jerusalem -- in 1948 (original in Hebrew). It reveals some the divisions we'd rather not talk about or, as David describes it, "the ugly infighting that goes on to this day between the old-guard Israeli establishment and those who prefer to view Zionism through the lens of Jewish history." This story is written from the perspective of the latter, who were in many ways the losers among the victors in 1948, if not so much in 1967.

This is not a feel good story, and there are elements of it that are extremely troubling. But I strongly encourage you to read it. Moshe Rusnak - A Hero of Israel. It's a slice of history that belongs in the whole picture.

And for yet another perspective (one I obviously don't share), here's an account of some of the same history written by an Arab Legion officer who also fought in the '48 war.