Israel’s George Washington

Ben Gurion

It’s difficult for an American to identify with Ben-Gurion, a humorless socialist who admired Lenin. To Americans of his time, Ben-Gurion would have sounded less like a candidate for the Jewish State’s first leader than as a poster child for stronger immigration laws. To add insult to injury, he was tactless and socially awkward.

Many books have been written about Ben-Gurion but given his decades-long dominance of the Zionist scene, there’s always room for one more. Anita Shapira is professor emerita at Tel Aviv University, well-known for her biographies of historical figures hailing from Israel’s left, the best of which is probably that of Berl Katznelson, a prominent Zionist leader in his time who is virtually forgotten today. She has now provided an easy to read, compact, well-organized—if superficial—account of the political development of the man she calls “Father of Modern Israel.” The English translation from the original Hebrew is excellent and translator Anthony Berris deserves special mention.

Congress Demands Obama Explain Rumored Sanctions Against Israel

White House

Members of Congress are demanding that President Obama come clean about controversial reports that he is considering leveling sanctions on Israel, according to a letter sent Friday afternoon by lawmakers to the White House.

The Obama administration has found itself engulfed in controversy since reports emerged Thursday that the White House and State Department had met in secret to strategize about imposing sanctions on Israel for its continued building of houses in contested Jerusalem neighborhoods.

State Department and White House officials have continued to dodge questions from reporters on the matter, maintaining that they will neither confirm nor deny the reports.