Modern Israel

Join Victor Davis Hanson and Sami Winc in a walk through the modern history of Israel on Christmas Day: its origins, military and diplomacy.

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14 thoughts on “Modern Israel”

  1. Super excellent discussion of the history and the issues of today. I love all of VDH’s books and podcasts. This is among the top 3.

  2. This is incredibly helpful. I liked that contentious issues were clearly marked as such so that the listener is equipped for further inquiry. The hosts have a good Q&A rythm in this one too!

    1. I agree. Will often ignore a podcast, even if is of interest. With written commentary can reread points of interest or for additional clarity.

  3. Great show! I had hoped he would say a bit more about Israel’s socialist /command economy which imploded in early 80’s. Maybe next time. I had read a Heritage paper about Israel, India and Great Britain going so socialist after World War II. Great example for today.

    1. Your remark about Israel’s economy is misleading. It’s true that it had some socialist aspects, especially on the kibbutzim, and was rather sluggish as a consequence but it was never a command economy in the common sense of the word. There were no five year plans and mostly private ownership of property except, again, on the kibbutz, but it must be remembered that the kibbutzim even at their apogee were a tiny though part of the economy especially during its agricultural heydey. Nor is it accurate to say that it imploded as, for example, did the USSR’s. It would be more accurate to say that it was reformed by Netanyahu and his ilk, one of his many enormous accomplishments that is, for obvious reasons, downplayed and ignored today’s Left.

      1. What do you mean by “Netanyahu and his ilk”? he probably did more positive things for the
        State of Israel than any other premier.
        It sounds to me that you do not like his way of governing.
        No politician, none, is perfect.

      2. I’m not an expert in Israeli history, but I have read Six Days of War by Michael Oren. He made he point that France admired Israel’s kibbutz system which was one reason they agreed to sell the Mirage and Mystere jets that would later prove so vital to Israel’s security in 1967 war. France also worked with Israel (and Great Britain) to take the Suez canal back from Nasser, which may be another reason they helped arm Israel.

  4. I read Michael Oren’s Six Days of War a few years ago. It’s the only book I’ve read on this particular pivotal event and of Israel’s history in general. Oren’s book is a compelling account of survival and, frankly, triumph over evil. When Egyptian dictator Gamal Nasser expelled the U.N. buffer force from the Negev desert and then placed his Soviet supplied tank divisions on Israel’s doorstep the die were cast.

    Israel was outnumbered and outgunned, but still managed to defeat their enemies. Oren says one reason for their success was not just the courage and expertise of the IDF, but the hubris of the Arab aggressors. For example, the Israeli Air Force was armed with French supplied Mirage and Mystere jets The Egyptians had Russian Mig fighters which were in some ways superior to the Israeli jets. But unlike the Israeli pilots who earned their rank and leadership positions by merit, many of the Egyptian pilots were appointed due to family connections and influence.

    Israel expanded its borders after the 1967 war, and most notably gained control of east Jerusalem. For the first time in over two millennia Jews controlled the Old City where their holiest sites, Temple Mount and the Western Wall, are located ( But the war wasn’t fought for imperial reasons. Israel not only successfully defended itself from certain annihilation, but negotiated the return of most of the land seized in exchange for recognition and peace at the 1978 Camp David peace talks.

  5. Dr. Hanson,

    Are you familiar with a Jewish chemist named Chaim Weizmann? Michael Oren mentioned his significance with respect to one of Israel’s founding documents, the 1917 Balfour Declaration. Weizmann developed a cheap way to mass produce acetone, which is used to make cordite. Before Weizmann’s new production method cordite was expensive to make. Many of the British artillery shells fired in World War I used Weizmann’s new acetone. The British government was grateful to him.

    The Balfour Declaration:

    “His majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine (the British Mandate) of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object. It being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” (

  6. Thank you Victor Davis Hanson and Sami Winc for a great podcast. I have alway thought of Victor as one of the great thinkers of today, and this podcast reinforced my view. As a Jew, I believe we are so fortunate to have such great friends as Victor Davis Hanson.

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