Naomi Shepherd

Naomi Shepherd is the author of a number of books on Israel and the Middle East, most recently Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-48 (1999) and a book of short stories, Ashes (2001).

Diary: Israel’s longing for normality

Naomi Shepherd, 3 February 2005

In Tel Aviv, the windows of tall office buildings blaze all night long, conspicuously consuming. The brightest lights of Jerusalem, during Chanukah week, were those of a huge electric candelabrum at the city’s gate: an expense for which the municipality, dominated by religious factions, was much criticised – the holy city is notoriously the poorest in the country. On the Tel Aviv...

Within the Pale

Naomi Shepherd, 8 February 1990

With the virtual disappearance of the Jewish working class in the Diaspora, and the decline of the Labour movement in Israel, Jewish socialism is beginning to look historically limited, rather than an intrinsic part of a cultural heritage. The idea that the Jews are somehow natural radicals by virtue of their internationalism, messianism and inherited ethic of social justice does not stand up to scrutiny. Jews came very late to political activity, almost a century after their emancipation in Western Europe. Their reputation for radicalism is based mainly on the role of the famous theorists of Communism, and the prominence of the Russo-Jewish intelligentsia during the populist, the Social Democrat and Bolshevist phases of the Revolution. By 1905, almost a third of all political prisoners in the Russian Empire were Jews, as were four of the seven members of the 1917 Politburo.

Israel’s Caesar

Naomi Shepherd, 26 November 1987

Ariel Sharon is both hero and bogeyman: brilliant military tactician and rogue general, master both of the pre-emptive strike and of the cover-up, populist leader and – in the eyes of liberal Israelis – perennial threat to Israel’s democracy. Uzi Benziman’s portrait is a commendable first attempt to evaluate the Sharon phenomenon. It is a journalist’s book – lively and readable, though sloppily translated and edited. The English edition, moreover, lacks the political glossary and the maps which are essential in a book which deals with the Middle East conflict. It has been subtitled ‘An Israeli Caesar’, and the nearest contemporary parallel would be Douglas MacArthur, the audacious general whose political ambitions had to be curbed by the American President – Truman. The proximity of Israel’s military leadership to the political hinterland, and a well-informed and critical press, have ensured that few of Sharon’s moves have been kept from the public for long. Why, then, despite his proven disregard for authority in the Army, and his belief that national security outweighs democratic procedures, has Sharon been allowed so loose a rein?’


The Great Lie

14 December 2000

The two recent articles in the LRB on Israel and the Palestinians, by Charles Glass (LRB, 30 November 2000) and Edward Said (LRB, 14 December 2000), both propose that Israel officially admit its ‘great lie’ – the denial of Palestinian nationhood – preferably at Said’s fantasy seminar on Historical Truth and Political Justice, presided over by academics like himself. Said...

The British Army occupied Jerusalem on Sunday, 9 December 1917, and withdrew on 14 May 1948. During its brief imperium in the Promised Land, Britain kept the promise made in 1917 by its Foreign...

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’Oly, ’Oly, ’Oly

D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1990

Only one of these five memoirs can be fairly called secular – quite unconcerned with the consolations of religion, untroubled by the complications. This is From Early Life by the oldest of...

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Jewish Blood

Michael Church, 7 February 1985

‘Between me and my childhood,’ says Budd Schulberg, ‘is a wall.’ Half-remembered incidents are the loose stones which he must tear away to make a hole big enough to crawl...

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