Daniel Gordis is the author of numerous books. He’s a columnist for both the Jerusalem Post and Bloomberg View. In addition, he’s a Distinguished Fellow at Shalem College. His book on Israel won the National Jewish Book Award.
The interview begins by discussing the history of the Jews. This includes the uniting of the various Jewish tribes by King David about three thousand years ago. It was David’s son Solomon that saw the division of the land into North and South Israel. The Assyrians then invaded the North. Later, the Babylonians conquered Israel, enslaving many of its people. Cyrus The Great, the Persian king, conquered Israel and allowed the Jews to return. Under later Roman rule, the Jews were forced into exile again in 70 AD after a revolt against the Romans.
The land of Israel was then under the control of the Ottomans (Turkey today) when the British issued the Balfour Declaration promising a homeland for the Jews in 1917 during WWI. After the British leave Israel following WWII, having taken the territory in WWI, the United Nations divides the land between Israel and the Palestinians. The Jewish portion of this land is invaded by the surrounding Arab countries. Neither they, or the Palestinians, accept the UN plan. Israel is successful in defending itself and declares independence in 1948. Gordis makes the point that the Israeli’s, and especially David Ben-Gurion the first Prime Minister; repeatedly compromised to achieve their objective, which the Palestinians refused to do.
Subsequent conflicts are discussed including the 1956 Suez Crisis, and 1967 when Israel is again successful in battle and acquires the “occupied territories” we know of today. These are the West Bank (from Jordan who Israel asked to stay out of the conflict), from Egypt where Israel takes the Sinai and later give it back in the Camp David accords for the second time (Israel had taken the Sinai in 1956). And the Gaza Strip, which Israel withdrew from in 2005. The Gaza Strip, after Israel’s withdrawal, was then taken over by Hamas and used the territory to fire thousands of rockets into Israel. Hamas, labeled a terrorist organization, controls the territory to this day.
In 1973 Israel is attacked by Syria and Egypt. Though eventually successful, Israel was rattled and Gordis makes the point in the interview that this helped to lead to eventual peace with Egypt and the Camp David Accords.
Finally, a discussion of the 2000 peace offer by Israel is discussed. This was an offer by Israel to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of over 90 percent of the West Bank, Gaza (before Israel withdrew even without an agreement), and a corridor linking these territories. In addition, a part of East Jerusalem under “civil control” as a capital for the Palestinians. Arafat rejected this offer too.