Yitzhak Epstein: The Hidden Question

In 1907 Yitzhak Epstein, a Russian-born teacher who had settled in Palestine, published an article entitled “The Hidden Question” in the Hebrew periodical Ha-Shiloah. Its subject was the attitude of the Jews toward the Arabs of Palestine. “Among the grave questions raised by the concept of our people’s renaissance on its own soil,” wrote Epstein, “there is one that is more weighty than all the others put together. This is the question of our relations with the Arabs.” This question, he added, “has not been forgotten, but rather has remained completely hidden from the Zionists, and in its true form has found almost no mention in the literature of our movement.” Epstein’s anxiety was brushed aside by the majority of his Zionist contemporaries. But the hidden question came back to haunt the Zionist movement and the State of Israel throughout the first fifty years of its existence. From Avi Shlaim, The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World, Allen Lane / Penguin

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