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The First Tithe by Israel Eldad
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The First Tithe

by Israel Eldad

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The First Tithe is a true memoir by Israel Eldad, born Israel Scheib, who was one of the three leaders of the Lohamei Herut Israel in the book referred to as the Lehi organization (its English translation: Fighters for the Freedom of Israel) was founded by Avraham Stern in 1940. Lehi is a far right group in its ideology that did much for the independence of Israel. For the first time this memoir is in English translated from the original Hebrew by Zev Golan. As you read this book you can tell that he is writing from his heart and with passion.

Though this English version of Israel Eldad's memoir gives us his narrative of his time in the underground starting with his escape from the Nazi's grasp where he makes it on forged papers to what will become Israel, to being arrested by the British and imprisoned as he taught class, his subsequent escape and the interesting remembrance of his time actively evading capture as he worked in the underground. Israel Eldad also lead the Irgun, one of the most radical Zionist groups during the Israeli war for independence. Those readers not familiar with this period of Israel’s history may find the book a little hard to read at first. But I encourage the reader to complete the memoir.

The author tells his story as he recalls it including the political maneuvering, infighting, and compromise among the various figures and movements in Israel's resistance and of his hatred of the British Occupiers, Goy. When the Jews were fighting the British and Arabs for their freedom and a homeland, the true fighter that brought independence for Israel had to fight some of their own people. Including the collaborators with the British, the Hagana and its offshoot the Palmach which were under the direction of Weizman. Part of this group was active in hunting members of the underground was Ben Gurion.

What I find most astounding is that when Israel gained its independence in 1948, that the underground who gained this independence with their blood handed over political power and governance to the very group who was trying to stop this independence and aid the British. In 1948 Ben Gurion became the first prime minister of Israel and Weizman became its president.

At times some readers will have a hard time distinguishing if the author is a freedom fighter or terrorist; this will depend on your own origins and political points of view. Regardless on where you stand you will read the moral issues that were involved in making the decessions that were made. But there is no questioning his resolve and passion for an independent Israel. This book will give you great insight into the thoughts of one of the leaders of the most radical underground group for freedom. You may not agree with all of Israel Eldad's politics or methods, but his goal was a free and indepedent Kingdom of Israel that would include Jerusalem.

I would like to also note that parts of the original book were not translated and kept in the book as they translator thought that without knowledge of the Hebrew language, Talmudic and Midrashic sources the reader would not understand those sections. I think this was a mistake to leave those sections out as it would add a deeper understanding of the author and his basis for the decisions he made . This is part of the reason I have noted rated this memoir 5 stars.But I appreciated the addition of Zev Golan's notes for many have forgotten this history. ( )
2 vote hermit | Jan 26, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is the memoir of Israel Eldad life fighting for Israel's independence in the Lehi. . He was one of the leaders of Lehi, and lead the Irgun, one of the most radical Zionist groups during the Israeli war for independence. Those readers not familiar with this period of Israel’s history may find the book a little hard to read at first.

The author tells his story as he recalls it including the political maneuvering, infighting, and compromise among the various figures and movements in Israel's resistance and of his hatred of the “British Occupiers.” At times it is hard to tell if the author is a freedom fighter or terrorist. But there is no questioning his resolve and passion for an independent Israel. This book will give you great insight into the thoughts of one of the leaders of the most radical underground group for freedom. ( )
  mramos | Dec 5, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
As President Obama pointed out during the campaign, America has always had a special relationship with Israel. However, as his gaffe about Jerusalem showed, Americans are nevertheless very ignorant about the country.

The First Tithe is a book which will help dispel some of that ignorance. The author, Israel Eldad, is not of course representative of all Israelis. He was one of the leaders of Lehi, and lead the Irgun, one of the most radical Zionist groups during the Israeli war for independence. His outlook, therefore, is an interesting one. He justifies what most of us would consider terrorism in a very intellectual way that puts it at the service of the political cause of Israeli independence. It was a great service of the Jabotinsky Institute to bring it to the English-speaking world.

Of course, what this edition lacks is a grave oversight -- an impartial critical introduction and notes. A critical apparatus, putting the man in the context of his time and thought and assessing his legacy, would have made the book much more of a contribution.
  marc_beherec | Mar 14, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
What a great book on a topic that is virtually unknown to the western world. "The First Tithe" is the story of the Israeli Declaration of Independence that was made on the of 14 May 1948, the day the British Mandate expired. "The fire will brand our faces, Our eyes like the sun of Givon, The shadow of our flag like the wings of eagles, Will strike fear in the Arabs of Zion". What followed next was the an invasion of the new state by troops from Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria, starting the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, known in Israel as the War of Independence.

Through underground resistance, revolutionary activities, and even assassination, came the fruition of the modern state of Israel, called by Eldad "the Kingdom of Israel". A remarkable story told by a escapee of the Nazi's, Mr. Israel Eldad; who led the "Fighters for the Freedom of Israel". Translated by Zev Golan, this is a must read for anyone interested in Israel and the Middle East. ( )
  notenoughbookshelves | Oct 20, 2008 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
At once depressing and uplifting - and really tragic all around - The First Tithe is a personal account of the Jewish Underground's role in the formation of Israel.

Like most Revolutionaries (and he is a Capital - R Revolutionary. In some circles, he could easily be seen as a terrorist), Eldad is left somewhat bitter as his ideologically pure revolution is replaced with a poor and bitter compromise. For the personal aspect alone, it is worth reading and would be well paired with William T. Vollman's "Rising Up and Rising Down" (the abridged version!) ( )
  jcovington | Sep 10, 2008 |
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A tithe to my mother and father.
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And if the British Parliament and Buckingham Palace and the Foreign Office have not yet been blown sky high, this is not because we do not want to provoke or anger them, or because we are afraid of the results, but only because our boys in London have not yet submitted the practical plans to us, though they are working on them and we are awaiting for their letters, and we are sending explosives from France to England.
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