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2008's Must Read Books on Israel & Zionism

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By Moshe Phillips - January 14, 2009

There should be little doubt that when Israel's defensive actions in Gaza have ceased, that President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton will start to pressure Israel to surrender land in an intensely determined manner. Pro-Israel activists should take note of how intensely the world media focused their sites on Israel and make sure that they are ready for the next, inevitable phase of pro-Islamic propaganda.

With the above in mind, here is a brief survey of some of the best books on Israel, Zionism and Islamic terrorism you may have missed in 2008.

The Aaronsohn Saga (By Shmuel Katz)

The late Shmuel Katz's last book was about the Jewish NILI intelligence network that aided the British against the Ottomans during World War One in the Land of Israel. The remarkable story of these Zionist heroes and their pure sacrifices is exciting as well as emotional. Most of the young group lost their lives. Here Katz allowed a nearly 100 year old story of bravery to be accessed by today's readers. A comprehensive history of NILI had never been written and Katz's final years were occupied with this noble deed. Katz, a former legislator in Israel's Knesset and a longtime leader of Israel's nationalist camp, passed away in Israel in early May 2008 at the age of 93.

The Bielski Brothers (By Peter Duffy)

The 2008 movie Defiance has portrayed Tuvia Bielski and his brothers, Zus and Asael as the heroes they were. The Bielskis led the Jewish/Zionist effort that rescued 1,200 fellow Jews from the Nazis and started a partisan brigade that battled the German Wehrmacht. 2003's book The Bielski Brothers: The True Story of Three Men Who Defied the Nazis, Built a Village in the Forest, and Saved 1,200 Jews was written by Peter Duffy. Duffy's book did much to bring the heroism of the Bielski brothers to the wider audience that they so rightly deserve.

The First Tithe (By Dr. Israel Eldad, translated by Zev Golan)

The late Dr. Israel Eldad's memoirs of Israel's battle for independence titled The First Tithe (Ma'aser Rishon) were published in English for the first time in 2008. Eldad originally published this volume of memoirs, primarily about his experiences as a leader in the Zionist underground, in Israel in Hebrew in 1950. The new English edition has been published by the Tel Aviv based Jabotinsky Institute. Eldad's book covers the period between 1938 and 1948. The final part of Eldad's First Tithe contains his penetrating analysis of the early history of the Israeli Army. He covers the failure of Israeli Army to capture Jerusalem's Old City in 1948, the decision of the LEHI to disband and integrate into the Israeli Army and the brutal attack on the Irgun arms ship Altalena by the Israeli Army. Zev Golan's translation brings Eldad's distinctive voice to English successfully. No easy task. (Read The Jewish Eye's review of the First Tithe)

Hamas vs. Fatah (By Jonathan Schanzer)

Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle For Palestine by Jewish Policy Center staffer Jonathan Schanzer is another must read on the Islamic terrorist groups that are focused daily on the destruction of Israel. Schanzer's conclusions can be disagreed with but his survey of the history of Islamic terror is top-notch.

Schmoozing with Terrorists (By Aaron Klein)

Philadelphia, Pa. native Aaron Klein is the Jerusalem bureau chief In his short career he has developed an uncanny talent for developing top-level sources within Islamic terrorist groups. Klein's Schmoozing with Terrorists: From Hollywood to the Holy Land, Jihadists Reveal Their Global Plans - To a Jew! is a unique read. Schmoozing with Terrorists provides readers with a portrait of how terrorists really think that has not been unveiled before.

Shackled Warrior (By Caroline Glick)

Caroline Glick's The Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad has been praised by both Benjamin Netanyahu and Natan Sharansky. And the praise is deserved. Glick "gets it". Perhaps better than anyone else writing today Glick articulates that peace is just not possible for Israel while her foes want nothing less than her total annihilation. Glick correctly points out that security must take precedence over peace. Her takes on the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, a nuclear Iran and the West's oil dependence are all spot on. (Read The Jewish Eye's review of Shackled Warrior)

The Stealth Jihad (By Robert Spencer)

American children are being brainwashed by textbooks paid for by Saudi petro-dollars. Students are being given a sanitized version of the bloody history of Islam. Robert Spencer reveals this and much more in his 2008 book, The Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs. Spencer's book explains how the Jihadists have already won in Europe and are on their way to winning in America. Ten of the most widely used textbooks in U.S. middle schools and high schools "present an incomplete and confected view of Islam that misrepresents its foundations and challenges to international security" says Spencer. The book is a must read.

These books are all well worth reading and anyone who needs a better understanding of the Middle East should be encouraged to read them. The fight for Israel on the battlefield of ideas will be more intense in 2009. Catch up on your reading and get ready.

Moshe Phillips is a member of the Executive Committee of the Philadelphia Chapter of Americans For a Safe Israel - AFSI. The chapter's website is at: and Moshe's blog can be found at

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