Bar Kochba and All That

Bar Kochba and All That

A heated public debate in Israel, lasting from May 1980 until the outbreak of the Lebanese War in June 1982, followed Yehoshafat Harkabi’s attack on Shimon Bar Kochba, the second-century leader of the anti-Roman revolt in Judea, 132-35 C.E. (of the Common Era). Once the tanks were on the move, nobody was in the mood to polemicize about battles fought some 1,800 years ago. But, on the basic issue, there was no break between the debate about the ancient war and the one that still is not over. In the wake of his succes de scandale, Harkabi even added an epilogue on the Lebanese War to his book’s English edition, The Bar Kokhba Syndrome: Risk and Realism in International Politics (Chappaqua, N.Y.: Rossel Books, 1982). Harkabi had used the tools of historiography to pinpoint the symptoms of disease that he perceived in the Israeli body politic. As he sees it, the Lebanese War confirmed his diagnosis.

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Lima