Jewish and Israel Studies

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Yigal Allon

A Neglected Political Legacy, 1949–1980

Udi (Ehud) Manor teaches modern Jewish politics and is the author of over 30 academic articles. His book publications include: The Jewish Daily Forward (Forverts) Newspaper – Immigrants, Socialism and Jewish Politics, 1890–1917 (2009); Berl Locker – A Zionist Diplomat, Socialist and Optimist (2010 [Heb.]); Louis Miller and Di Warheit (“The Truth”): Yiddishism, Zionism and Socialism in New York, 1905–1915 (2012); and Making Peace with the Palestinians – Israel and the West Bank, 1967 [Heb.]).

Yigal Allon was a major contributor to the nation building process of the State of Israel. He did so from multiple positions he held in government. Between 1961 and 1968 he served as Labor Minister. In 1968 he became the Absorption minister and from 1969 to 1974 he served as Minister of Education. In his last role, 1974–1977, he held Israel’s foreign policy helm, encouraging countries and leaders to engage with Israel. Throughout his 17 years in government, Allon was a pivotal player in the cabinet’s security and foreign relations endeavours. From 1968 to 1977 he was also vice prime minister.

This fabulous career notwithstanding, his political legacy has been ignored. In 2004 a long anticipated biography of Allon was published in Hebrew by historian Anita Shapira, 24 years after his sudden death, when he was 62. However, this eloquently written and well documented biography only covered Allon’s military career to the end of Israel’s War of Independence in 1949. The 2004 biography ended by claiming that Allon’s next 31 years (1949–1980) – his political years – was not worth a historical account. Yigal Allon: A Neglected Political Legacy, 1949–1980 sets the record straight, and reverses the injustice of ignoring his multi-faceted political talent in the service of the State of Israel. This English-language edition is a revised and smaller edition based on the widely acclaimed and reviewed Hebrew version (2016). Allon’s perceptions regarding the Territories have been borne out; equally critical, he foresaw that government policies would lead to a decline in Israel’s international status, and that Israel would be held accountable for lack of peace in the region.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-880-0
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $74.95
Release Date: June 2017
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-899-2
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: May 2018
Page Extent / Format: 240 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes


List of Illustrations
Map Accompanying the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Memorandum of 29 June 1967
Map of Allon’s Plan

Introduction: “We are for the movement” 1
From Spring of his Life to Epilogue 1
A Short CV 2
Allon’s Ideology 5
Allon, Arabs, and Palestinians 7

1 First Encounters with Politics, 1949–1955 18
Allon and Oxford 21
Escaping Mapam’s “Captivity” 23

2 Crossing Some Curtains of Sand, 1955–1959 28
Scandals of an Excessive “Activism” 28
To Sinai – and Out 30
A Curtain of Sand 33

3 Harvard, India and Oxford Again, 1957–1960 43
Kissinger 43
India 46

4 Labor and Dimona, 1961–1967 51
Minister of Labor 53
Dimona 57

5 Three Weeks of Waiting and a Six Day War 60
Missed Opportunity in Moscow? 62
Between Status Quo and Momentum 65

6 The Allon Plan as a Momentum Device 84
Demography, Geography, Democracy 84
Responses to the Plan 90

7 A “Totally Unacceptable” Solution? 95
1970 – Black September and The Rogers Plan 97
1972 – “Federation – No! Elections – Yes!” 101
1974 – “Thank God for Rabat!” 102

8 Absorption, Education, Deputy PM and Environment 110
“A real trend and not an episode” 110
Minister of Education 113
“Peace Now!” – And then what? 117
Protecting the Environment – A Forgotten Duty of the PM’s Deputy 121

9 “No More Collective and Personal Myths” 124
Clausewitz or Freud? 124
Some Post-war Theses 127
A Non-political Political Investigation Commission 130
The Pre-war Political Conception of the Egyptian Third Army 132

10 Foreign Minister in the Middle East 135
Formulating a Foreign Policy during Dinner at Camp David 136

Reassessment, a Mysterious Leak and an Interim Agreement with Egypt 142
An Effective de facto Coalition: The MoD, PLO and Sebastia 145

11 “A Clever Foreign Policy” – A Global Tour 151
“Conquering Europe” 152
Western Europe – and Especially Germany 155
Western Europe and Goldmann Again 157
Asia – “A Problematic Continent” 159
Africa and South Africa 160
1976 – “Our Latin American Year” 162
Socialism, Soccer, Poetry and Tapping: The Romanian Experience 164

Turkey and Iran 165

12 The End 168
Who’s Fault? What Next? 170
“Interim Agreements in Sinai are Better than the Camp David Framework” 172
Sinai must not be the precedent – Towards an Israel–Egypt 175
Peace Agreement
“Some of us are sitting on the fence” – A Partial Party 178
Recovery, 1979
“We are not struggling for an Oscar” 181

Epilogue: Nostalgia, Legacy, History, Counter-history, Politics 185

About the Author

Udi Manor's insightful biography of Yigal Allon is much more than a fair minded study about the life and times concerning a member of Israel's founding generation. Manor places Allon in the often tumultuous context of Israeli politics, and is ruthlessly objective about his contemporaries, and their inability to take the steps necessary for a lasting peace in the Middle East. Readers will learn how much of what Allon predicted has unfortunately come to pass. They will relive the Six Day War, the Yom Kippur conflict, the ongoing strife between Israel and the Palestinians. Here is a history through Allon’s eyes, and it should be required reading for all who seek a just and lasting peace, as he did.
Jonathan Lurie, History Professor emeritus, Rutgers University

This is a comprehensive, fully documented biography of one of the founding fathers of Israel, which sheds light on some of the major controversies that engulfed the young state during the first decades of its existence. These controversies, in which Allon was a major player, include the place of Israel between the blocs during the early Cold War; Israel’s security, strategic doctrine and the ‘nuclear option’; the question of Israel’s desired borders and the prospects of peace; and the country’s socio-economic makeup. A fascinating aspect of this rich book is Allon’s Oxford education and warm relations with leading figures in British politics and academia. Highly recommended.
Azar Gat, Ezer Weitzman Professorial Chair, Tel Aviv University

This political biography recounts the career of Yigal Allon, an Israeli politician who held several high positions in the 1960s-70s, including vice prime minister. The book analyzes Allon’s ideology as a native Zionist and delves into his complex relationships and attitudes towards Arabs, noting that he advocated for Israel to have an active policy of peace, even while opposing Arab leaders and Palestinians. The book contains an extensive, detailed glossary of people, movements, concepts, and events, plus a total of 36 b&w historical photos and maps. This English language edition is revised and shorter than the Hebrew edition published in 2016.

And from a review of the Hebrew edition
“Udi Manor’s biography focuses on the politician’s great contribution to the building and shaping of Israel in military, political, state and social terms. It looks at Allon’s time in government till his untimely death in 1980, at the Allon Plan for ending the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and at his work on social reforms and improving Israel’s international status. Relevant and important.” The Jerusalem Post

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