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German–Israeli relations, 1949–69
Author: Lorena De Vita

The rapprochement between Germany and Israel in the aftermath of the Holocaust is one of the most striking political developments of the twentieth century. German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently referred to it as a ‘miracle’. But how did this ‘miracle’ come about? Drawing upon sources from both sides of the Iron Curtain and of the Arab–Israeli conflict, Lorena De Vita traces the contradictions and dilemmas that shaped the making of German–Israeli relations at the outset of the global Cold War. Israelpolitik offers new insights not only into the history of German–Israeli relations, but also into the Cold War competition between the two German states, as each attempted to strengthen its position in the Middle East and the international arena while struggling with the legacy of the Nazi past.

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Lorena De Vita

From that year onwards, West German and Israeli football teams began exchanging expertise, with Israeli coaches travelling frequently to Cologne for training purposes. 5 The links between the German Trade Union Confederation (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund) and its Israeli counterpart, the Histradut, also grew closer. 6 But Shinnar maintained his focus on high politics for the time being, fixated on his goal of establishing diplomatic relations. The desire for a closer cooperation with the Federal Republic was something that David Ben-Gurion seemed to be ‘possessed

in Israelpolitik
Raymond Hinnebusch

with ten times its population, led to a sense of permanent siege. David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding leader who shaped much elite thinking, expressed Israel’s perception of the Arabs: Israel, he asserted, had been inhabited by Arab invaders for 1,300 years but once the homeless, persecuted Jews had finally achieved a small notch of territory, the Arabs sought to reduce its territory, flood it with refugees, seize Jerusalem, and ghettoise it by blockade (Brecher 1972: 552; Gerner 1991: 44). Israel responded to Arab hostility, as Brown (1988: 134

in The international politics of the Middle East
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Contextualising reconciliation
Lorena De Vita

.), Deutschland und Israel: Solidarität in der Bewährung: Bilanz und Perspektive der deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen (Gerlingen: Bleicher, 1992); G. Lavy, Germany and Israel: Moral Debt and National Interest (London: Frank Cass, 1996); N. Hansen , Aus dem Schatten der Katastrophe. Die deutsch-israelischen Beziehungen in der Ära Adenauer und David Ben Gurion ( Düsseldorf : Droste , 2002 ); Y. A. Jelinek , Deutschland und Israel, 1945–1965. Ein neurotisches Verhältnis ( Munich : Oldenbourg , 2004 ); D. Trimbur , De la Shoah à la Réconciliation? La Question

in Israelpolitik
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Lorena De Vita

Nasser’s increasing popularity in the region, of the spectre of Soviet penetration of the Middle East, and of a possible imminent reduction in the US armed forces stationed in Europe, it was easy for the Chancellor to understand why David Ben-Gurion would justify the Sinai campaign as a pre-emptively defensive, rather than an offensive, act. 47 This, in turn, came close to putting the FRG onto a road to covert defiance of the United States, while the relationship between Adenauer and Ben-Gurion, and the West German and Israeli security establishments, grew ever closer

in Israelpolitik
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Lorena De Vita

’s neighbours had declared war against it just a few hours after David Ben-Gurion, head of the Jewish Agency and first Prime Minister of Israel, announced its very foundation on 14 May 1948. The war effort left the Israeli economy in disarray. The situation was further complicated by the huge waves of mass immigration that characterised much of the first years of Israel’s existence. While in the run-up to the declaration of independence the immigrants were arriving in large numbers from Europe, either to escape Nazi persecution or after the liberation of the concentration

in Israelpolitik
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Lorena De Vita

the trial, emphasising in an official communication that ‘The trial against Eichmann in Jerusalem is more than just a trial about the Hitlerian fascist past ( hitlerfaschisische Vergangenheit ). It is also a denunciation of the militaristic system which continues to exist on West German soil still today.’ 84 In the final comments on the draft speech of chief prosecutor Gideon Hausner, who would play a key role in the trial, David Ben-Gurion reminded the attorney general of the importance of always employing the adjective ‘Nazi’ when mentioning ‘Germany’, so as to

in Israelpolitik
Lorena De Vita

, ‘The United Arab Republic Ballistic Missile and Space Programs’, OSI-SR/65–29, 2 August 1965. CIA (CREST/FOIA), www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP78T05439A000500320027–6.pdf [Accessed November 2019]. 14 R. Howard , Operation Damocles: Israel’s Secret War against Hitler’s Scientists, 1951–1967 ( New York : Pegasus Books , 2013 ), p. 148 . 15 S. Aronson , David Ben Gurion and the Jewish Renaissance ( Cambridge : Cambridge University Press , 2011 ), p. 295 . 16 FRUS, 1961–1963/XVIII, Doc. 140, Assessment prepared by the Defense

in Israelpolitik