Uri Milstein

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Uri Milstein (Hebrew: אורי מילשטיין‎ (Born 29 February 1940) is an Israeli military historian and philosopher.

Early life and military career[edit]

Uri Milstein was born in Tel Aviv to Avraham Milstein, a volunteer in the British army in World War II, and Sarah Milstein, a kindergarten teacher.His parents were among the founders of Kibbutz Afikim, and his father was a member of David Ben-Gurion's party; the Mapai, and on the "Haganah" (the leftist parties' defense organization). His older brother was a member of the "Palmach". Uri himself was a member of Mapai's youth party, HaTnuah HaMe'uchedet (The United Movement).[1]

Milstein studied at Hayil school in Tel Aviv's Yad Eliyahu neighborhood, Hadassim youth village and a high school in Tel Aviv. In 1958, he was drafted into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and served in the 890th Airborne Battalion of the Paratroopers Brigade as a soldier, squad commander and combat medic. Before being discharged, deputy commander of the brigade, Rafael Eitan, appointed him as the historian of the paratroopers. He served as a medic in the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War, and did his reserve duty in the history department of the Israeli Air Force. In 1974 he was relieved of his post as historian of the paratroopers by Yitzhak Mordechai, commander of Paratroop Brigade 35, after publicizing his research on the "Battle of the Chinese Farm" of the Yom Kippur War in which Mordechai was involved.

Academic career[edit]

Already as a child Milstein was a critical analyst, as a child of 4–5 years old, he debated with his grandfather about who was more fit to rule the USSR, Stalin or Kalinin. At age eight, during Israel's War of Independence in 1948, Milstein went to watch his father, his uncle, and his brother fight the nearby enemy village,Salmah (near Tel Aviv) . When they would discuss the battles afterwards, Milstein realized that they weren't telling the truth and were covering up they`re own shortcomings and those of their associates.[2]

At age 14 he conducted his own research on the "Convoy of 35" (perhaps the most legendary event of Israel's Independence War, the song composed about it "Here lie our bodies" was the most popular song from the war), and came to the conclusion that much that was written on it is bunk, for example, instead of a necessary, heroic mission to deliver plasma to wounded Jews, it was a needless waste as the British had already evacuated the wounded before they set out. And as for the men themselves, they needlessly took a long, circuitous, and rough terrain route, thus causing them to be caught in daylight by the Arabs, and being killed to the last man.[3] This was to be a harbinger of Milstein's later career as a historian.

After completing his service in the IDF in 1960, he studied economics, philosophy and political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He wrote his PhD on religion and legislation in Israel. After the Six-Day War, he published War of the Paratroops, and at the beginning of 1973 he published a military history of the early days of Israeli statehood, By Blood and Fire Judea. In the 1980s, he taught military history at the IDF Command and Staff College. In 1989, Milstein published the first volume of his series on the War of Independence, in which he alleged flawed functioning of commanders who were considered heroes in Israel. Time Magazine assessed it as "the definitive history of the war". Professor Benny Morris of Ben-Gurion University wrote then in The Jerusalem Post and later in Yedioth Ahronoth that until the publication of these books, all that had been written on the war was "a historical smear" and that only from these books is the true story being told. Professor Louis Rene Beres of Purdue university, writing on the books, called them "a strategic asset for the state of Israel". Only four of the planned twelve volumes had been published when publication was stopped in 1991. Milstein blamed this on "pressure from Palmach veterans Yitzhak Rabin, Amos Chorev, Zvi Zamir, and others, who were harmed by the truth finally coming out". Milstein is presently trying to raise the resources to continue publication himself.[4] In 1993, he published Crisis and Its Conclusion, criticizing the functioning of the IDF in the Yom Kippur War.

In 1995 he published The Rabin File: How the Myth Was Inflated about Yitzhak Rabin as a commander of the Palmach. In 2010 he reprinted it as "Rabin's Way and Legacy" [in Hebrew] with some changes, and an additional volume dealing with Rabin's later years, and contributions from other authors about what they term "Rabin's real legacy".

In his introduction, Milstein writes: "as Rabin had so much influence on the people of Israel, I endeavor to understand as much about the man as I can, I will investigate everything that had an effect on him, his genealogy, his personal early life, and everything else".

Milstein goes on to write that from the view of Rabin's mother, Rosa Cohen, a fanatical socialist with energy and devotion bordering on mania, Yitzchok Rabin was an unwanted child, as he was an obstacle to her relentless socialist activism. And that while Rabin was growing up his parents were hardly home, being busy with socialist meetings, which, Milstein writes, caused Rabin the child to grow up with a strong feeling of insecurity, which would manifest itself throughout the life of Rabin the adult.[5] Milsteins main charge is that Rabin fled the battle he commanded on April 20, 1948 (see below) and that altogether, for his 54-year involvement in matters relating to Israels security; "Rabin has not one known military action worthy of praise!"[6]

Milstein established the Survival Institute and a book publishing house called "Survival". After that, Milstein taught at the Ariel University Center of Samaria.

Views and opinions[edit]

Milstein was one of the first academics to openly criticize the Israeli defense establishment.[7] He is described as being too extreme in his conclusions, but his "contribution to the knowledge is enormous (Milstein has been researching Israel's [history?] for over 50 years, has conducted thousands of interviews, and has a total of 500 gigabytes of interviews and documents.[8]) and he is willing to suffer [in?] his devotion to the truth."[7] A classic example of Milsteins audacious devotion to the truth was when he testified in 1988 in Military Court in defense of the sentry from the "Night of the Gliders. Milstein testified that fear in the face of danger is a normal phenomenon, that even men who achieved high rank in the IDF acted thus. When the judges asked him to elaborate he told of Yitzhak Rabin ( minister of defense in 1988) fleeing the battle he commanded on April 20, 1948 (the"blood convoy").The judges totally ignored his testimony in their judgement, and Rabin's office refused to speak to journalists about it.[9] Shortly before his death however, at a gathering of ex-Palmach members (hosted by Micha Pri in Tel-Aviv) Rabin admitted fleeing the battle.[10] In The Blood Libel of Deir Yassin – The Black Book, he claims that the Deir Yassin massacre was a myth created by the Israeli left to prevent the Irgun from forming an independent unit inside the IDF and keep Menachem Begin out of the first national unity government under David Ben-Gurion, and that Begin and the Irgun themselves went along with it to [successfully] scare the Arabs.[Begin himself said "not what happened at Deir Yassin, but what our enemies (presumably the Arabs and the British) CLAIMED happened, was worth to us half a dozen divisions.[11]

Milstein is a supporter of the thesis that the Soviet Union intended to assault Germany in 1941.[12] It is interesting that Milstein, whose 20+ books deal with Israeli military history, topics related to Zionism and Israel , and the philosophies that arose from those topics, should concern himself with researching and adopting controversial theories about Stalin.Milstein explains that as someone whose intense research into Israeli History was absolutely ignored when it led to provocative evidence, he developed an interest in all such research that upset the common wisdom and was universally ignored. And after analyzing how Stalin made the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact with Hitler, his absolute ideological enemy, and waited to attack Poland until after Britian and France declared war on Germany for doing the same, the only logical conclusion (backed up also by circumstantial evidence).was that Stalin wanted Germany to weaken itself fighting the Allies, after which HE would be able to attack Hitler and win [13] (It is interesting that Menachem Begin heard the same from an NKVD officer in Lithuania in 1940[14])

Milstein's main theme is how the political and military powers of Israel protect their power and prestige at the expense of their performance. Thus on the Six-Day-War, Israels most famous victory, Milstein pointed out that General Uzi Narkis, commander of Central Command, refused to hold an inquiry on their foul-ups, saying "don't launder our dirty clothing in public".[15] On the whole war, Milstein said "The IDF didn't investigate the battles for Jerusalem at any level, and the Israeli public including the army, thirstily drank the myths which many commanders created and were popularized by journalists. The legends which accompanied the capture of Jerusalem are the most tangible showing of Israels culture of mythology, which resulted in the failures of the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, and the (First) Lebanon War... The heads of state and the senior IDF commanders are directly responsible for the failures caused by failing to learn the lessons."[16]

In "Rabin's Way and Legacy" (revised Hebrew edition of "The Rabin File") Milstein writes in the prologue,[17] "Even if we hadn't known that Rabin fled the battlefield he commanded on 20 May 1948, that he was fired from all his active military commands in Israel's Independence War, and that he received electric shocks in a psychiatric hospital in May 1967 (on the eve of the Six-Day-War, Rabin was then Chief of Staff of the IDF), even so we would have to follow the principle of Rene Descartes: I think (question), therefore I am (Cogito ergo sum), or to the slogan of the Royal Academy of the Sciences of London (founded 1661) "Do not believe the words of man"(nullius in verba).

Milstein goes on to establish that Rabin, long revered as "Sir Security" and "The Warrior Par Excellence" had not only fled the battle he commanded on April 20, 1948, leaving his men in an ambush, and being in such a state of collapse as Chief of Staff in 1967 as to receive electric shock therapy, but in that his 54-year career as a militiaman, soldier, officer, and politician, "Rabin has not one known military action worthy of praise!" He had not the slightest notion of economics, and was even lacking basic education. The same can be said of his home life as he was particularly rough with his wife, and even as Prime Minister they had violent confrontations.

Milstein says that Rabin is merely a microcosm of a macrocosm, not only of Israel, but of most of the world's anti-intellectualism, as he calls it, a world that thrives on myths and half-truths, and makes only mocking pretense at learning lessons.[18] The man in the street wonders why Israels diplomacy is so bad and their bureaucracy so muddled, after all, most of their higher officials were high-ranking army men in Israels world-renowned army, Milstein makes the point that therein lies the answer; the army's impressive performance is largely to the credit of the individual soldiers, while much of the legends about the army leaders are myths.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Milstein is married to the actress Shifra (Ben David) Milstein, with whom he has two daughters. His daughter Dalit is the co-founder and director of Notzar Theater.

Published works[edit]

Poetry[edit]

  • After All, 1965, Kiryat Sefer publishers (Hebrew)

Military history[edit]

  • The Blond Bear, 1970 Ramdor Publishers (Hebrew)
  • The War of the Paratroopers, 2 vols. 1968 (Hebrew)
  • The History of the Paratroopers, 4 vols. 1985–1987 (Hebrew)
  • History of Israel's War of Independence, 4 vols. out of 12 projected, 1996–1999. University Press of America
  • The Shaked Patrol, Miskal Publishers, 1994.
  • The Rabin File: An Unauthorized Expose (English), 2000, Authors: Uri Milstein, Aryeh ʻAmit, Gefen Publishing House, ISBN 965-229-196-X, 9789652291967, 472 pages
  • The Rabin File – The Myth And Its Collapse 2005 Survival Institute Publishers
  • Blood Libel at Deir Yassin – The Black Book 2007 National Midrasha Publishers and Survival Institute Publishers. The book presents testimonies refuting the claim that a force of the Irgun underground committed a massacre at the Arab village of Deir Yassin in the 1948 war, and accuses leaders of the Israeli community of promoting the massacre story to discredit their political opponents.
  • The Birth of a Palestinian Nation: The Myth of the Deir Yassin Massacre Gefen Publishing House, 2012. ISBN 978-965-229-582-8

Critique of Military Reason series[edit]

  • The Outbreak of War 1992
  • The Crossing Which Wasn't 1992. Yaron Golan Publishers (Hebrew)
  • The Lesson of a Collapse 1993. Survival Publishers And Yediot Ahronot (Hebrew)

Critique of the Present Civilization series[edit]

  • Razmach, Pamphlets Of Literature, 1970.
  • The General Theory of Security – the Survival Principle, (English & Hebrew) 1999 Survival Institute Publishers
  • New Administration for Israel – An Intellectual-Political Alternative, 1993 (English & Hebrew)
  • An End to Life, 1994 Survival Institute Publishers (English & Hebrew)
  • The Oasis of Dreams, The Legend of Hadassim, 2006 Survival Publishing, (English & Hebrew), (an autobiography of The Generation of the State)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Milstein;Rabins Way and Legacy Survival Publications 2010 page 96
  2. ^ Rabins Way and Legacy page 412
  3. ^ Milstein;History of Israels War of Independence
  4. ^ Enterprise for the 70th Jubilee of the State of Israel
  5. ^ Rabin`s Way and Legacy pages 50-64
  6. ^ Rabin`Way and Legacy page 41
  7. ^ a b Nashon, Gad (May 2000). "Dr. Uri Milstein: "Israel's most cherished and hated revisionist military historian"". Jewish Post. 
  8. ^ Milstein;Enterprise for 70th Jubilee of Israel's independence
  9. ^ Rabin`s Way and Legacy page 20
  10. ^ Rabin`s Way and Legacy page 317
  11. ^ Begin; The Revolt
  12. ^ Ури Милыштейн Добровольные помощники Сталина. Почему ненавидят Виктора Суворова. In: Новая правда Виктора Суворова. Продолжение супербестселлера. Антология. Сост. Д. С. Хмельницкий. М.: Яуза-пресс, 2009. Серия «Великая Отечественная: неизвестная война». ISBN 978-5-9955-0099-5 (Russian)
  13. ^ Milstein,Israeli History Magazine"Segulah" July 2011
  14. ^ Begin; In The White Nights; Harper and Row 1955 page 10
  15. ^ Milstein History of the Paratroopers Schalgi Publishing House 1985 vol.III page 962
  16. ^ Ibid. page 904
  17. ^ page 30
  18. ^ Milstein; Rabin's Way and Legacy, and The Survival Principle
  19. ^ Milstein Rabin's Way and Legacy,and The History Of Israels War Of Independence

External links[edit]