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The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood Hardcover – October 15, 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Historian Khalidi (Resurrecting Empire), a leading expert on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, brings vital perspective to Palestinian attempts to achieve independence and statehood. Admirably synthesizing the latest scholarship and concentrating on the period of the British Mandate (1920–1948) established by the League of Nations after WWI, Khalidi describes the process by which a newly arrived European Jewish minority overcame, with help from its imperial ally, the claims and rights of the native Arab majority in what became Israel and the occupied territories. Khalidi shows Palestinians under the mandate facing comparatively severe systemic, institutional and constitutional obstacles to the development of any para-state structure—contrary to British promises of Arab independence and Article 4 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Meanwhile, the Jewish minority could count on a system biased in its favor to develop the structures that became those of the Israeli government in 1948 amid violent expulsion of over half the indigenous population. In bringing this narrative up to the present, Khalidi rigorously details the missteps of the Palestinians and their leadership. Khalidi curiously refrains from drawing any detailed proposal of his own to resolve the ongoing conflict, but his first-rate and up-to-date historical and political analysis of the Palestinian predicament remains illuminating. (Oct.)
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"In his new book The Iron Cage Rashid Khalidi uses history to provide a clear-eyed view of the region and assess the prospects for peace….He strives successfully for even-handedness…He’s fair to both sides, and in particular, he’s knowledgeable not only about Palestinian history but about what he has called ‘tragic Jewish history.'" —Anthony Lewis

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1 edition (October 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807003085
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807003084
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,157,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's so interesting to see the reviews for Khalidi's books as opposed to Chomsky or even Morris. People review based on their personal opinion of Rashid Khalidi and not the book itself. People, he is not a politician, but a historian, and his arguments are historically, well argued. Its fine to disagree, if you have a point, make it, but for the readers on Amazon its tiring to see the attacks and praise on the author and not on the book, and quite irrelevant really.

I personally found this book to be quite well balanced on both sides, Khalidi aruges that the Palestinians are partially responsible for their failed state, due to poor political decision making, so how can this be an entirely biased thesis? I really wish people would read the books they review.
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Format: Hardcover
In the long introduction to his very repetitive book in which he sets out to explain why the Palestinians have failed in their struggle for statehood, Professor Khalidi of Columbia University explains how the odds were stacked against them as the result of the policies of Britain, the United States, the surrounding Arab states and of course of the yishuv and then of Israel. All of this, he says, is well known, though not as well-known as it should be. However, he writes that he would focus on the role the Palestinians played themselves, and will `put the Palestinians at the centre of their own story'.

To what extent does he manage in the main part of the book to fulfil that aim? The first chapter does indeed look at the internal weaknesses of the Palestinians compared with the Jewish immigrants: they were less educated (though better than the Arabs in the neighbouring countries); they had fewer economic resources; the majority was rural rather than urban; they were less united; and they failed to build up the infrastructures of future statehood.

But then in the second chapter, he places the blame for this latter failing on the British Mandate. The Mandate for Palestine incorporated the entire text of the Balfour Declaration, which recognized the national character of the Jews, while failing to mention the national character of the Palestinians. The mandatory authorities insisted in all the encounters with Palestinian nationalists that acceptance of the Balfour Declaration was a prerequisite if the Palestinians were to be given representative institutions and the kind of status that the Jewish Agency enjoyed.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a marvellous read on an extremely complex and massively relevant topic. I.e., it got great reviews from the New York Times. I was much surprized to see the rant and attack on it here on Amazon as the only review at this moment in early October 2006...however, the book is just out. It is unfortunate that the single reviewer so far does nothing but blow their stack. Viewing the book, which is amazingly middle of the road, it is certainly somewhat critical of both sides in a conflict but highly informative. Given that the topic itself is so over heated even a book such as this by Khalidi will receive from one group or another being discussed angry rants: it would be unfortunate if any reader was stopped by that type of response. Rather it is understandable that anger arises, and arises in the context of the topic. This in itself signals the desperate need for a book such as this...a brave and noble attempt to balance and assess histories of people who for the most part are incapable of doing that themselves.
Khalidi's is a book about two histories, intertwined to the point of suffocation and anhilation; namely, that of the Palestinians and to some extent the Israeli's very little thanks. Yet, such responses are symptoms of the injury and wounds that don't heal. And it is because each side refuses the Other, the experience of the Other, and the arguments of the Other, that such a book or books are desperately needed. Khalidi is an eminant scholar and a highly respected one. It is unlikely that any one can do better than he does in covering the topics he covers with considerable skill and sensitivity. This is a must read, especially for those who most violently refuse. One might say that Khalidi is attempting to de-toxify one of the most historically toxic problems in the Middle East.
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Format: Hardcover
It is painfully apparent that the reviewers who dislike Mr. Khalidi's book do so out of their desire to act as one-sided apologists for the Israeli state, instead of seriously engaging in a historical debate of the issues. If you are interested in the Truth about the core of today's problems in Israel / Palestine, buy and read this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Professor Rashid Khalidi, a historian at Columbia University in the City of New York, has written a brilliant account of the Palestinian people's struggle for national self-determination.

He shows how in the 1920s and 1930s, the British Empire deprived the Palestinians of all democracy to stop them defeating the Zionist project. The Mandate for Palestine, like the Balfour Declaration, made no reference to Palestinians or Arabs, only to `non-Jewish communities' who had only civil and religious, not national or political, rights. By contrast, both Mandate and Declaration asserted that the `Jewish people' had the right to a `national home'.

Khalidi notes the British Empire's `vast experience in thwarting the will of majorities in different countries'. He shows in detail how it divided, diverted and distracted all opposition to its rule. The Empire's rulers always presented the colonies as made up of incompatible religious and ethnic communities, who would be at each other's throats without the benevolent presence of the British.

Khalidi dissects the Zionist myth that `seven Arab armies' invaded Israel in 1948-49. The fiercest fighting was the Jordanian army's defence of areas assigned by the UN to the Arab state, and of the UN-defined area around Jerusalem, against Israeli offensives.

He records that in 1991, the first Bush Government pledged "to oppose settlement activity in the territories occupied in 1967, which remains an obstacle to peace." But the US government broke its word: it backed the Israelis throughout the 1990s building new settlements to reinforce their illegal occupation.
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