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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic work from Avi Shlaim
The major theme of Avi Shlaim's previous book, 'The Iron Wall', was that Israel has throughout its history readily resorted to military force rather than engaging in meaningful diplomacy. In Avi's 'Israel and Palestine' he analyzes four portions of history, including (as he calls them) 1948 and beyond, to Oslo and beyond, the breakdown of the peace process, and...
Published on November 11, 2009 by Human who wants to learn

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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but a bit lazy and definitely quite dated in parts
This book was not written of a piece - as noted in the product description it is a collection of writings over a 30 year period. For example in the chapter about Did they Leave or Were They Pushed the book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine published in September 2007 which gives the most comprehensive account of this crime yet is not mentioned, but Pappe's earlier less...
Published on December 31, 2009 by James E. Anderson


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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic work from Avi Shlaim, November 11, 2009
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The major theme of Avi Shlaim's previous book, 'The Iron Wall', was that Israel has throughout its history readily resorted to military force rather than engaging in meaningful diplomacy. In Avi's 'Israel and Palestine' he analyzes four portions of history, including (as he calls them) 1948 and beyond, to Oslo and beyond, the breakdown of the peace process, and perspectives. What I found most appealing about this particular text was Avi's discussion and analysis of literature written by scholars, historical figures, as well as popular figures. This includes, but it not limited to, Nur Masalha, Ilan Pappe, Itamar Rabinovich, Benny Morris, Asher Susser, Ian Black, George and Douglas Ball, Fouad Ajami, Hanan Ashrawi, Meron Benvenisti, Colin Shindler, Moshe Arens, Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Bernard Wasserstein, Dennis Ross, Yossi Beilin, Norman Finkelstein, Bauch Kimmerling, and Edward Said. If some of these names are not familiar to you, I encourage you to look them up. You will uncover that Shlaim is striving to provide detailed scholarly accounts of each individual and their contributions to the interpretation of history with regard to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. And, as always, Shlaim's use of primary sources is extremely well done.

Please, anyone who wishes to understand the conflict, read and learn. Most people (including myself) are not capable of reading the primary literature. But at least analyze the work of those that dedicate their entire lives to history and scholarship.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars illuminating work on seemingly intractable situation, December 5, 2009
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It goes without saying that the situation of Israel and Palestine is one of the most contentious political, ethnic, social problems that brings out the extremes of emotions for even those with several degrees of separation from the problem. One can notice that from the reviews one encounters on literature for one group or another is praised emphatically by sympathizers and bashed by the opposition, usually irrespective of the content. That being said, moving onto this book, it is an important and illuminating read.

It is important to note that this book intends to be a fairly complete overview of the conflict, its origins and evolution. It focuses on some aspects more than others and is not a complete analysis of any particular point in time (in the sense of discussing opposition and rebuttals and re-rebuttals etc) but the book essentially assumes no prior knowledge. The author starts with the foundations of the formation of Israel, the motivations both from global political perspectives as well as zionist perspective and the local arab perspective. Avi starts out by describing the situation as one in which there were shaky foundations, with English politics being contradictory and eventually leading to a Jewish priority. This shakiness is attributed to foreign powers and their inconsistent approach rather than Israeli subversiveness. It is an important distinction that helps formulate the authors underlying belief which is that the state was founded for a people with from some veil of ignorance the strongest requirement for a sovereign state at the expense of an existing population. In essence, foreign powers had an obligation to the jewish movement, but acted with disregard for the rights of the local population which were subordinated in a choice that the choosers had no right to make. That was the injustice and its foundations are not necessarily the fault of the parties now involved.

The book then follows in chronology discussing the history and in particular the territorial exchanges that accompanied various wars and the politicians and their perspectives and perceived biases. This seems to offend many readers as I'm sure many believe these characters to be quite different from the way described, but the author does not make claims without well documented evidence. The author is very thorough in describing a strategy and subsequently using many examples of its manifestation. It could be argued that it is one sided, but everyone's perspective has a conclusion to draw, and irrespective if that is agreed, the most important thing is the evidence used and this author is thorough in backing up his claims. The momentum of foreign sympathy is focused on and the changing of the global community attitude after the speech delivered in Madrid written by Dr Hanan Ashrawi. The position of the US and its often failure to act as an independent arbitrator depending on the presidency is discussed. The author describes the US position as one that has the tendency to turn to short term politics and US sovereign interests rather than a well balanced intermediary position. This has the repercussions of not providing the needed push at times to pressure the Israeli side. I think this is an important issue that the author addresses, by the nature of the situation Israel is in the position of power, it might be in isolation in the region etc, but at its local bargaining table with the Palestinians, it clearly has more ability to encroach on land, inflict damage etc... The importance of foreign intermediaries to try to balance the existing balance of power is important as a solution that is one crafted out of relative military strength rather than based on more utilitarian or human rights based justice will likely spark future problems. If there is a solution to be had, it is important that it be as close to even handed as possible or it can end up being ineffective if perceived injustice remains status quo. For this reason, he believes the US needs to be firmer when more even handed solutions are being worked on.

The author describes Israeli local politics as often being at play as the ebb and flow of desire for peace. The domination of the right wing he sees as a dangerous evolution as their intention he does not believe to be peace, but essentially divide and conquer. One of the major themes is the discussions of peace are then followed with further settlement in areas that are supposed to be part of Palestinian settlement. For the author, these actions speak louder than words. He sees tit for tat between the sides as grossly overbearing on the Israeli side with its clear advantage, the author evidences this by the casualty rates of many multiples for the Palestinian side vs the Israeli side. The author believes the populations of both people are looking for peace and that there needs to be a formal division of the country to the Green line of 1967. The incrementalist settlement which is occurring undermines the situation and further entrenches both sides.

The authors positions stems from what he perceives as an original injustice that was decided by outside powers. What is done is done from that and what is important now is the well balanced application of human rights and and recognition of the human costs on the sides of the parties rather than the us versus them approach. The author sympathizes much more with the Palestinian side due to their much weaker position and their actions are to be expected given the evolution of the situation. He believes Israel needs to take a step back, recognize the human rights of the Palestinians, and act from that perspective for which he thinks a defining of 1967 borders and division of the country is the appropriate solution. The longer settlers keep moving "borders" the more entrenched people become and given the unevenness of power it is becoming a human rights crisis for Palestine. I would rate this 4.5 stars if I could, the reason for not rating 5 is that there are occasions when the author describes the same person a bit differently, for example, he is very favorable to Edward Said in the chapter on him and his approach, but argues against the same position he flatters later in the book. A few times examples like this emerge. Nonetheless the content of the book is well written, analysis is backed up with many examples and evidence. Whether the solution is the right one who know, but the approach and the perspective is very important to read. If more people had the sympathy of the author the solution would be much less intractable.
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20 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine study of the Israel/Palestine conflict, December 22, 2009
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William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Avi Shlaim, professor of international relations at Oxford University, is the author of The iron wall, the best book on Israel's relations with its neighbours. This erudite work is a collection of articles that were originally published in the Journal of Palestine Studies and the London Review of Books.

Part 1 comprises ten articles on the 1948 war and after, Part 2 ten articles on the Oslo Accord of September 1993 and beyond, Part 3 five articles on the breakdown of the peace process, and Part 4 five articles looking at the current situation from various perspectives. He identifies three main watersheds, each the subject of heated debate: the founding of Israel, the 6-Day war of June 1967 and the Oslo Accord.

Israeli governments usually oppose a Palestinian state and a return to its 1967 borders, even though, as Shlaim argues, ending the occupation of the West Bank would enhance Israel's security. The Oslo Accord, negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians, with virtually no US or EU involvement, was a great step forward towards creating a Palestinian state. But tragically Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his successor Ehud Olmert wrecked the Accord, as Shlaim shows.

Shlaim recognises that the Iraq war had `no solid basis in international law' and that the invasion did not help to resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict or promote democracy in the Middle East. You don't end one illegal occupation by starting another.

Shlaim argues that Israel's brutal military occupation of Gaza was `deliberate de-development'. The USA and the EU helped the Israeli state by imposing sanctions on Gaza, not on the occupier but on the occupied. As Shlaim writes, "The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence."

In 2005-8, 11 Israelis were killed by rocket fire from Gaza; in 2005-7, the Israeli Defense Force killed 1,290 Palestinians in Gaza, including 222 children. In November 2008, Israel broke the ceasefire which had held for four months. In its 22-day attack on Gaza, 1,300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. Bush and Blair backed the attack and opposed UN calls for a ceasefire.

Shlaim concludes, "A rogue state habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes. Israel fulfils all of these three criteria."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complex topic, Accessible text, March 3, 2013
This review is from: Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Paperback)
This is my first serious reading foray on the Israeli Palestinian issue. As such, I do not feel I can confidently compare or contrast it to any other work. However, the writing was accessible; the issues were well outlined in the various sections. The subject matter is bleak. If anything, that was the challenge from this book to the reader, to continue to read a story with no positive end in sight.

The diversity of opinions and personalities included by the author grant a larger view of the issues than I have commonly met and brought a wide array of aspects to the issue. He demonstrates many of the reasons for the stubborn intransigence of the actors that seems to be inherent to the situation. Shlaim goes to pains to demonstrate the diversity, changing opinions and complexity of the solutions that have been brought to the table by various people and organizations since the beginning. The contextualization is, to me, the most useful characteristic of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, May 11, 2013
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This review is from: Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Paperback)
This compilation of essays is thought provoking. The essays will stimulate your search for a peaceful solution to the Israel/Palestine divide.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thorough and nuanced literature review, January 11, 2015
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This review is from: Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Paperback)
A thorough and nuanced review of recent literature related to the conflict between Israel and Palestine focused on ascertaining truth rather than proving either side's stance.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but a bit lazy and definitely quite dated in parts, December 31, 2009
This book was not written of a piece - as noted in the product description it is a collection of writings over a 30 year period. For example in the chapter about Did they Leave or Were They Pushed the book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine published in September 2007 which gives the most comprehensive account of this crime yet is not mentioned, but Pappe's earlier less researched books are. So beware.
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3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Double-dealing and betrayal by Britain, March 5, 2011
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This review is from: Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Paperback)
One of a few books that talks about how Israeli came to own the land of Palestinian with facts unlike Zionist propagandists' books. In talking about Balfour Declaration how "Britain promised Hussein, the Sharif of Mecca, that it would support an independent Arab kingdom under his rule in return for his mounting an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire", "The Sharif Mecca assumed that the promise included Palestine", "In 1916, Britain reached a secret agreement with France to divide the Middle East into spheres of influence in the event of an allied victory", "Under the terms of the Sykes-picot agreement, Palestine, Palestine was to beplaced under International control", "In 1917 Britain issued Balfour Declaration, promising to support the establishment of a national home for the Jepeople in Palestine", I like phrases like "Thus, by a stroke of imperial pen, the Promised Land became twice promised. Even by the standards of Perfidious Albion, this was an extraordinary tale of double-dealing and betrayal, a tale that continued to haunt Britain throughout the 30 years of its rule in Palestine."

It was very informing to learn how Britain betrayed the Arabs: When Hussein asked Britain to explain what it all meant (on Balfour declaration,), this book explains Hussein's attitude to the Balfour Declaration. It says that "Hussein thought that he had Britain's assurance that the settlement of the Jews in Palestine would not conflict with Arab independence in that country. This explains his initial silence in public and his private efforts to allay the anxieties of his sons". "Hussein was not opposed to the settlement of Jews in Palestine and even welcomed it on religious and on humanitarian grounds. He was, however, emphatically opposed to a Zionist takeover of the country. Hogarth gave him a solemn pledge that Britain would respect not only the economic but also the political freedom of Arab population. When Britain subsequently refused to recognize Arab independence in Palestine, Hussein felt betrayed and accused Britain of breach of faith.

This book clearly points out that Balfour Declaration was the turning point for the Zionists to pursue their evil agenda of land grabbing with total disregard of native population in Palestine.
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8 of 26 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A little too anxious to conform to fashionable ideology, November 17, 2009
Shlaim believes that "job of the historian is to judge". This seems, alas, to entail some noticeable shoe-horning of reality to fit the requirements of ideological fashion and convenience.

There are some interesting passages here, but Shlaim's slightly facile and romantic positions are all too easy to take from the safe distance of Oxford, where Fatah's constitution can be read with agreeable detachment "Article (12): Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.
Article (19) ... this struggle will not cease unless the Zionist state is demolished and Palestine is completely liberated."

(There can be little responsible doubt about what "complete liberation of Palestine" or "eradication of 'Zionist' ... cultural existence" would concretely entail under an Islamic state, or even under a secular majoritarian hegemony, if such a thing could actually be achieved).

Generally, there is a too strong a sense of distortion of the historiographic project by an anxiety to conform to the uncomplicated ideological preferences of his northern european hosts. These are not perspectives that would ever be seen as more than fashionable posturing by an electorate in Israel, particularly by the 40% or more whose families have concrete experience of living in Arab countries before the Jewish nakba began in 1948, generating, by the 1970s, even more Jewish Arab refugees than Palestinian refugees.

The purely ideological section devoted to Benny Morris is diagnostic of Shlaim's predicament. It fails to engage with a single issue of technical historiography, and devotes itself instead to ad hominem fulminations against Morris's failure to be limited by the bounds of Shlaim's preferred, and structuring, ideology - namely that "the Palestinians, by any reckoning, can only be seen as the victims" while only the Israelis are to be seen as aggressive. Regardless of the evidence, apparently.

Fatah's Constitution, and Hamas's Charter, documents which are eloquently expressive of the history and balance of forces in these organisations, but uncongenial to Shlaim's romantic ideology, are not brought to the reader's attention.

Meanwhile, the review of this book by Benny Morris in The New Republic is worth reading, I think.

[...]
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2 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avi Needs A History Lesson!, April 18, 2013
This review is from: Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations (Paperback)
Avi, open a history book!

There is no palestine. Palestine was nothing but the English European name for Israel. There has never in history been a country called palestine until the British invented it to name the British Mandate after World War I, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. During 400 years of the Ottoman Empire, there was no palestine. Palestine is an English name. Arabs viewed the land merely as southern Syria, al-Sham in Arabic. Jews called the land Eretz Israel, Land of Israel. In fact, since there is no letter p in Arabic, Arabs cannot even write "palestine in their own language"!

The British also invented the fake name "palestinian" to call ALL inhabitants of the British Mandate, including Jews. In fact, Arabs vehemently rejected the name palestine and palestinian for being Western inventions. Today, everyone is a palestinian i palestine!

The British Mandate dissolved in 1948 and, so, too, did the British-invend palestine cease to exist along with palestinians. The British Mandate eventuated into the state of Israel and its inhabitants became Israelis.

It was the Romans who in the 2nd century first imposed the Latin name "palaestina" on Israel as punishment for the second Jewish revolt against Roman occupation, in an attempt to erase the Jewish identity of the land and 1000 years of Jewish nationhood. The Romans based "palaestina" on the Philistines who were ancient enemies of the Jews, as added insult to the Jews.

Later in the 19th century, European Christians Anglicized the Latin "palaestina" into the English name "palestine"

Do a search on amazon.com for books of history of "palestine" written by reputable historians. There are virtually none. When was this mythical palestine established? No one knows. Who founded palestine? No one knows. Who were the historical kings and leaders of palestine? No one knows. The great ancient Jewish historian was Josephus. The great ancient Roman historian was Cassius Dio. Name a great ancient "palestinian" historian You cannot. Name the "palestinian" monetary coinage You cannot. Such a great ancient civilization is "palestine" and the so-called "palestinians" that they have absolutely no history prior to the British Mandate after World War I.

The fact that "palestine" does not appear, not even once, in the Old Testament nor in the New Testament nor even in the Quran, while Israel appears 2500 times in the Jewish, Christian and Islamc texts, testifies to the name Israel among inhabitants of the Near East.

1 Samuel 3:20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord.

John 12:13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! "Blessed is the king of Israel!"

Quran 10:93: We settled the Children of Israel in a beautiful dwelling place, and provided for them sustenance of the best: it was after knowledge had been granted to them

Had the Romans not invented the name "palaestina," imposed on Israel, Europeans would not have later invented "palestine" and there would be no "palestine" today. The land would have remained Israel throughout the centuries.

So-called palestinians are merely rebranded Arabs originating from Arabia, Egypt and other Arab entities. They are interlopers in Israel.

When historical revisionists and anti-Semites today use the bogus name "palestine," the intent is to, again, erase the Jewish identity of the land as the Romans attempted in the 2nd century.
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Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations
Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations by Avi Shlaim (Paperback - November 8, 2010)
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