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Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948 Paperback – February 4, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


“[An] important book. . . . The picture presented is thorough and fair and persuasive.”
(Benny Morris New Republic 2008-05-07)

“Groundbreaking. . . . Riveting. . . . Eloquent.”
(The Nation 2008-03-24)

“An important academic work that is accessible to general readers.”
(Jerusalem Post 2008-03-21)

“Written in . . . honorable revisionist spirit.”
(Books & Culture: A Christian Rvw 2010-07-15)

“An important academic work that is accessible to general readers.”
(Spero News 2008-12-12)

From the Inside Flap

"Cohen adds human insights to one of the most painful dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Fascinating."—Tom Segev, author of 1967: Israel, the War, and the Year that Transformed the Middle East

"In Army of Shadows Hillel Cohen utilizes a broad range of sources in several languages to produce the most judicious and nuanced study available on the complex phenomenon of collaboration by Palestinian Arabs with agencies of the Zionist movement during the British mandate period. Cohen effectively explores the motives and contexts which led some Palestinians to collaborate with Zionism and assesses the extent to which such collaboration contributed to Zionism's success in acquiring land for Jewish settlement, overcoming Palestinian nationalist resistance, and laying the foundations of a Jewish state. This is a remarkable contribution to scholarship on the modern history of Palestine, on Palestinian society and politics, and on the Zionist project."—Zachary Lockman, author of Contending Visions of the Middle East: the History and Politics of Orientalism

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (February 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520259890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520259898
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,640,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Seth J. Frantzman HALL OF FAME on March 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is quite simply one of the most important books to be published on the Arab-Israeli conflict in a long time. It focuses on a relatively narrow, but fascinating subject, the Arabs who worked alongside Jews in Mandatory Palestine, sometimes because they were favorable to Zionism but more often for pragmatic reasons. Cohen's contribution is not merely the scholarship but also the tales he tells of individuals caught up in momentous events.

Unlike so much of the scholarship on the Middle East this book is surprisingly un-perverted by the politics that so often weaves its way like a snake into books about the history of Israel or the Palestinians. Cohen notes that one should allow people to judge themselves, thus rather than taking the side of the modern Palestinian nationalist narrative, as man researchers do, and calling the `collaborators' "traitors" one should allow them to speak for themselves. They saw themselves as nationalists. They have found themselves, supposedly, on the wrong side of history. But they did not know that and this book allows the reader to hear these people come forward from history and speak for themselves.

The story covers the period 1920 to 1948 and examines the story Palestinian Arabs who worked with local Jews and Zionists in Mandatory Palestine. What is most fascinating is that Cohen shows that more often then not the Arabs who `collaborated' with Zionists were Muslims. This Muslim-Jewish connection took place because the most anti-Zionist Arabs were Christian Arabs, more often than not, Greek-Orthodox. Some leading Muslim families, such as the infamous Hajj Amin Al Husayni, were also leaders of Palestinian Anti-Jewish nationalism. But when king Faisal met Chaim Wiezman it was a Muslim notable talking to a Jewish one.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By The Elder on February 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When used in wartime, the word "collaborator" is a loaded term. Like the words "traitor" and "treason," "collaborator" is pejorative by its nature, but its negative implication is only in the subjective context of the labeler.

Hillel Cohen, in his fascinating book "Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism, 1917-1948," consciously uses these words in the context that Palestinian Arabs use the words today. As a firm member of the post-Zionist historians, perhaps this is not surprising, nor his use of the word "Nakba." But to Cohen's credit, despite his constant use of these terms without scare quotes, he is an honest enough historian to show that the supposedly treasonous behavior done by countless Palestinian Arabs between the Balfour Declaration and the founding of Israel was often anything but.

Reading this book, with Arab appellations being applied to situations where the Arabs end up looking very bad, is an exercise in whiplash. The exact same facts could have been used in a book called "Arab-Zionist Friendship, 1917-1948" but Cohen's use of the pejorative lends a sense of unreality to his terminology.

The book itself is a remarkable historical work, with much use of recently declassified Israeli archives showing the extent of the early Zionist Shai intelligence operations and methods, together with the large numbers of Palestinian Arabs who, to some extent, decided to work with the Jews rather than shun them, often at the cost of their lives.

"Army of Shadows" follows a roughly chronological history of Arabs who willingly sold land to Zionists, who traded with them, who worked for them and who at times employed them, even who married them.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By David A. Teich on July 26, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book gives a very good view of the varied reasons for collaborators to have worked with Jews. It also gives a very interesting picture of politics among the different Arab clans that caused, as it still does today, the charge of collaboration as a political tool.

The problem that took away the fifth star is that the author's polemics often exaggerate things and make assumptions that just aren't supportable. Even though I agree with his views, am a Zionist, and just spent six years in Israel, I expect a book such as this to lay out the facts and be a bit less subjective. The facts support his points well enough, the extras, even though I agreed which much of them, took away from the rigor the book could have had.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By L. King on November 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a must read book on the history of the Arab/Israeli conflict. Cohen educates his readers with an absolutely riveting account of the rivalry and tensions between various clan factions in Mandatory Palestine dating from the collapse of Ottoman rule to the Israeli declaration of independence. [ Instead he names local Arab clan leaders and land brokers who willingly sold lands to Jews and to the Jewish Agency. ]

The word "collaborator" in the context of conflict is often taken negatively. Yet in business one collaborates all the time - its how we get things done. When I collaborate with others it is in order to get more accomplished collectively that could be done by individually. In Palestinian society "collaboration" was viewed as pejorative, and therein lies the problem. The main branch of Palestinian nationalism today rejects the notion of collaboration and by examining history we can uncover the origin of this school of rejectionist thought.

I recently wrote the author of a history of the Middle East why he didn't cover the story of the minority view of Arab sympathizers to Jewish migration. He had considered contrary movements in Egypt and in Iran. He dismissed it as the story of the dog that didn't bark, implying that it wasn't very relevant. Yet in the Sherlock Holmes story of the same name the fact that the dog did not bark was the clue that solved the case!

Paragraph by paragraph Cohen clearly outlines of the events of the day backed by newspaper articles of the day, interviews, reports and archived correspondence. He also looks at the campaign of intimidation backed by the Mufti Haj Amin Husseini against those in the Arab community who were friendly towards Jews.
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