On June 18, in broad daylight, Palestinian gunmen in
a yellow taxi overtook Danny Yehuda--the father of three--as he drove on a
highway near Homesh, a small Jewish settlement overlooking Nablus, the West
Bank's largest city, and shot him to death at point-blank range. Taking
responsibility for Yehuda's execution was a group calling itself "Battalions of
the victim Thabet Thabet." The organization claimed to be avenging the death of
Dr. Thabet Ahmed Thabet of Tul Karm, who until last December, when he was gunned
down by undercover Israeli forces, had been a dentist and director-general of the
Palestinian Authority's health ministry.
Benny Morris, a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University, and Avi Shlaim, a professor of history at Oxford, have come to be thought of as mainstays among Israel's New Historians, a term reminiscent of America's Revisionist school, which came into its own during the late 1960s. Back then, William Appleman Williams particularly captured the imagination of Vietnam-era peace intellectuals and historians. His book The Tragedy of American Diplomacy challenged the official view of the Southeast Asian war as a noble next step in containing communism.
He felt like the hero of Darkness at Noon, President Clinton confessed to a friend last January after the Lewinsky scandal broke. One can only surmise that he felt ground down, in the particular way of a political man—in this case, as one set up for a show trial, much like Nicolas Rubashov, the protagonist of Arthur Koestler's 1941 novel. There is something endearing about a president who will risk any literary reference to describe his state of mind, let alone one to a book that, although justly famous in its time—it was Koestler's homage to Stalin's purged—is now not much seen outside of core curriculum reading lists.