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One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate [Paperback]

by Tom Segev
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 2001 0805065873 978-0805065879 1st
One Palestine, Complete explores the tumultuous period before the creation of the state of Israel. This was the time of the British Mandate, when Britain's promise to both Jews and Arabs that they would inherit the land, set in motion the conflict that haunts the region to this day.

Drawing on untapped archival materials, Tom Segev reconstructs an era (1917 to 1948) of limitless possibilities and tragic missteps. He introduces an array unforgettable characters, tracks the steady advance of Jews and Arabs toward confrontation, and puts forth a radical new argument: that the British, far from being pro-Arab, consistently favored the Zionist position, out of the mistaken--and anti-Semitic--belief that Jews turned the wheels of history. Rich in historical detail, sensitive to all perspectives, One Palestine, Complete brilliantly depicts the decline of an empire, the birth of one nation, and the tragedy of another.

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Topicality is never an issue where Israel and the Palestinians are concerned. The arguments--not to mention bloodshed--over Jewish and Muslim nationhood and land rights have been going on for centuries and, whatever the best intentions of the current peace process, they will probably go on for centuries to come. Both parties fanatically believe they have an inalienable historical right to statehood on the land in question and both regard Jerusalem as a holy city. As befits the disenfranchised, the Palestinians are slightly more open to a negotiated settlement, but the Israelis remain intransigent about handing over any but the most inhospitable of scrubland and the impasse remains. In the battle between the bullets and the ballot box, the bullets are winning hands-down.

Tom Segev is one of Israel's most notable historians and journalists--one of the few to strive for any sense of objectivity in his writings--so a new book by him is always worth waiting for. One Palestine, Complete is a detailed account of Palestine under British rule from 1917 to 1948, the critical period in the modern history of the region that led up to the creation of the state of Israel. Segev begins by carefully detailing Britain's well-known inconsistencies in dealing with both the Jews and the Arabs--to both of whom it had appeared to promise, if not the world, at least the country after independence was granted--and goes on to make a convincing case that because Palestine fell into the category of an emotional rather than self-interested colonial possession, the Brits hoped the situation would unwind to everyone's advantage.

Where Segev departs from the historical norm is in his assertions that whatever the British may have said to the Palestinians, their actions were uncompromisingly pro-Zionist from the start. This, he claims, was done out of the mistaken, anti-Semitic belief that the Jews controlled business and turned the wheels of history, rather than from a recognition of the rightness of their cause. Be this as it may, it is at best a partial explanation. Before World War II, Britain was on the verge of handing over Palestine to the Arabs, and Segev completely downplays the impact of Western war guilt over the Holocaust that led to a huge growth in support for an independent Israeli state at the expense of Palestinian rights.

Even so, One Palestine, Complete offers a thoughtful and dramatic account of the evolution of two nationalist movements that seem destined never to be reconciled. With a past like this, what hope is there for the future? --John Crace, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"The British entered Palestine to defeat the Turks; they stayed there to keep it from the French; then they gave it to the Zionists because they loved 'the Jews' even as they loathed them, at once admired and despised them, and above all feared them. They were not guided by strategic considerations, and there was no orderly decision-making process," claims Segev in revealing the thrust of his argument that the contemporary problems between the Arabs and the Jews over the issue of a promised homeland were exacerbated by the interventions of the British empire between the two world wars. Segev, author of the well-known and highly controversial books 1949 and The Seventh Million, is one of the "new historians" who have revised and demythologized the history of modern Israel. The reason the British feared the Zionists, Segev maintains, was that they believed that the Jews had inordinate political power around the world. Moreover, he suggests that the Arab rebellions of the late 1930s were instrumental in convincing the British to leave the reins to the Jewish Agency and even hypothesizes about how the British would have reacted if the Arabs had had a political infrastructure in place similar to that of the Jews. Although his argument would be more convincing had he given greater credence to the Palestinian perspective, Segev is an excellent historical writer who presents a compelling and timely discussion of a well-trodden subjectDeven if it does not stir as much controversy as his earlier work. (Nov. 14)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (October 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805065873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805065879
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,180 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Solution: The British in Palestine, 1917-1947 June 8, 2007
Format:Paperback
I read Tom Segev's book on Mandatory Palestine in the original Hebrew, so I cannot tell you how well it translates to English or to what extent the translation reflects the source. But Segev's book is a lively, if not coherent enough, description of Israel's rise and the British role in it.

Segev's book is well written and deeply humane, reflecting the lives and times of ordinary (and extraordinary) people in Palestine and Britain. That said, the book has considerable weaknesses: It does not properly introduce to us the main protagonists, whether Ben Gurion, The Mufti Al Husseini, Balfour, or any other major personality. The focus is squarely on the Jews and British; the account of the Arabs is largely unsatisfactory; and while I can't quite prove it, I feel that Segev pushes his overarching thesis a little further than the evidence actually goes.

I am unconvinced, for example, that the main or only causes for the British pro-Zionist stand, particularly the Balfour Declaration, has been the British delusions of Jewish world-dominating power and the personal charisma of Chaim Weismann. Standard accounts (such as David Fromkin's masterpiece A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East) emphasize the role of Zionism as a bulwark against French Middle Eastern ambitions, but for Segev this was a minor concern at most.

As Segev tells it, the story of Palestine under the British mandate is the story of one National movement, supported by the British Overlords, overwhelming its rival for the land. But Segev does not meditate on the emergence of a separate Palestinian nationhood - when did it really, finally appear?
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, depressing, and very worthwhile reading December 24, 2001
Format:Hardcover
`One Palestine, Complete' is a brilliant piece of history and a very depressing book. Author Tom Segev is a columnist for Ha'aretz and a resident of Jerusalem, intimately acquainted with his topic. Segev effectively combines anecdote, a gift for striking quotes, excellent research and a broad historical vision into this amazingly informative volume about the 31 years of British rule. As Benny Morris has stated: "He treats the Mandate period as a novel."
The overwhelming image of the British mandate is that of parents trying to keep peace between their two children, their favored eldest son and his younger brother ... The parents tried and tried to get the kids to stop misbehaving -- and eventually gave up.
Many of us seem to have forgotten that Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire until a short 84 years ago! In fact, the British controlled this region for only three decades, from 1917 until 1948. This book is the story of those years. Among the horrors covered in this tome are: the Nebi Musa rampage of 1920, the Jaffa riot of 1921, the Jerusalem riot of 1929, the riots of 1933, and the Arab Rebellion of 1936-39. Segev's traces their origins, but even more chillingly, describes how they unfolded, event-by-event and horror-by-horror. Early Arab atrocities insured that many Jews would never trust their Arab neighbors.
Segev clearly distinguishes Zionism and Judaism. He reminds us that "much of the pre-Zionist Jewish population - that is, those who lived in Palestine before the 1880s - were ultra-Orthodox. They were deeply hostile to the notion of secular Jewish autonomy in the Holy Land, which, according to religious doctrine, would be redeemed only through divine intervention in the messianic age. To the traditional Jewish population was sacrilegious." [p.
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50 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars New look at Palestinians and Israelis November 13, 2000
Format:Hardcover
Although Segev does not touch on the recent turbulence in the Mid-East, it all seems relevant. We've become accustomed to one view of Israel's history, and he shows us a new perspective. Most people believe that Israel would not have gained statehood without the Holocaust, but Segev points out that a move toward this was well on its way well before this, and that the Holocaust was actually a setback, depriving Israel of the settlers it needed to establish itself. He also has great, gossipy stories so that it's a surprisingly fast read, despite the heft of the book.
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64 of 81 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Trees, No Forest April 5, 2003
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a colorful montage of various people's experiences under the British Mandate. Lots of intriguing characters and entertaining stories. The unpublished letters and journals Segev draws on, as well as published memoirs, are mostly by relatively obscure Arabs, Jews, and Brits--and this is the book's greatest strength.
But you'll have to look elsewhere if you're interested in a competent description and analysis of British rule. Segev apparently couldn't be bothered to do much background reading on British politics. When he strays from his diaries and memories, he blunders repeatedly. Lloyd George, he writes, was an "Englishman" who was "elected prime minister" in Dec. 1916. (L.G. was Welsh and there were no elections between 1910 and 1918.) Herbert Samuel, when he went into politics, "joined Lloyd George's Liberal Party"--two decades before any such entity existed.
There are a great number of other trivial mistakes, but more disturbing is Segev's persistent, if low-key, anti-Zionism. This is particularly evident in his treatment of Arab attacks on Jews. To take only the first, at Tel Hai on March 1, 1920, Segev concludes, without any evidence, that the Jews may have opened fire, and w/o provocation. He then starts referring to the "myth" of Tel Hai, as if the shootings were a figment of Zionist imagination. (He meanwhile accepts uncritically the myth of "the Arab Revolt" during WW I, discredited for decades.) Segev's treatment of subsequent violence is even more distorted. The role of the Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al Husseini, is suppressed and, in the case of the Arab Rebellion of 1936-8, the focus is almost entirely on British countermeasures rather than the terror that inspired them.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars good book but boring writing
As said above it is a good book but the info is transmitted in a very boring way
the end
Published 17 days ago by arkleo
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Recommended to me by a friend from Israel. An excellent history and an easy read. Tells both sides of the story.
Published 1 month ago by D. Kristofferson
5.0 out of 5 stars all you need
i was about to spend 3 weeks in israel & wanted an overview of its modern history. a historian friend turned me on to this book & it was exactly what i'd been looking for. Read more
Published 5 months ago by jw
5.0 out of 5 stars Good history
Good history and not always easy to find. The author is an Israeli who does not go along with many of the novelists of the period. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Thomas N. Crocker
5.0 out of 5 stars A balanced history of the contested land
It is illuminating t see how all of the recurrent motifs in the Middle East conflicts are already present at the beginning of the twentieth century. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Alexy Khrabrov
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading Title, Misleading Book
Misleading title, misleading book. The name "palestine" is a bogus, European name for Israel the British called the British Mandate. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Kitchen Magician
5.0 out of 5 stars Palestine Delivered to the Jewish Devil
Although somewhat journalistic and anecdotal in style, "One Palestine, Promised" is a relatively honest account of Zionism in Palestine. Read more
Published 13 months ago by john thames
4.0 out of 5 stars Journalistic in style
If you've ever wanted to know the historical background of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict then this book is a great introduction. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Carol L. Holmes
1.0 out of 5 stars Fraud
Segev is the worst kind of racist, shrouded in academia and intellect. He makes assertions such as that the British supported the Zionist cause due to the belief that they have... Read more
Published on January 26, 2012 by Erica
5.0 out of 5 stars Present at the Creation: An age-old problem.
Tom Segev's book is a tour de force taking the reader back to the start of it all; the mandatory time when the British were in charge. Read more
Published on June 1, 2011 by Rocco B. Rubino
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