on August 24, 1999
This book is excellent. Through the reading I gained insight from the perspective of the Palestinians who were displaced from their homeland. I have personal friends in Jordan and this book helped me to understand what their families suffered through. Very comprehensive, covering many areas of this subject.
on April 26, 2002
Palestine and the Palestinians is a unique source of valuable information about the people of Palestine. The authors told a compelling story with a tremendous amount of information. In addition to the usual political and military litany, the book also places special emphasis on the social and economic aspects of the poignant Palestinian existence. It is hard not to develop sympathy for the Palestinian people after reading this exposition of what they have gone through, and how much they have suffered in the 20th century.
I will also point out that this book presents a decidedly one-sided view. Although the authors pointed out, and documented in considerable detail, the inherent problems within the Palestinian cause: deeply fractured leadership lacking consensus in regard to goals and means, embrace of violence, conflicts with the nationalist Arabic regimes, the incompetent and self-serving acts of their leader Yasser Arafat, etc., they (the authors) nonetheless put the lion's share of the blame on Israel. They insisted on holding Israel to high standards of well-established Western democracies while Palestinian transgressions were given a gentle touch and often with historic and contemporaneous excuses.
I don't know if it is the Arab people, the Muslim culture, ideology, or just the desert wind, but even as the book's authors are high educated, cool-headed and analytical, they, and most vocal Palestinian supporters, seem to lack a few commonsense elements in their framework of thought and analysis: a) When you are in a position of weakness, you don't hold on to a wish list and demand 100% satisfaction immediately. b) In this time and age, violence, especially terror visited on civilians will arouse anger and contempt rather than sympathy. c) Jews also suffered greatly historically, in fact much more than Palestinians. Israeli leadership will not let stand any development that could jeopardize their security or diminish their ability to defend their country and their people. Consider this:
In a conversation in between Benjamin Netayahu and Chinese premier Jiang Zemin, they noted that the Chinese, the Indians and the Jews are the three oldest peoples in the world. Netayahu pointed out that there are 1.2 billions Chinese today, 1 billion Indians and only 12 million Jews, and asked the Chinese premier why. The latter had no answer. Netayahu then said, "...but they all boil down to one big thing. You, the Chinese kept China; the Indians kept India. But the Jews lost our land and were dispersed into the four corners of the earth... culminating in our greatest catastrophe in the twentieth century..."
The similar tragedies of the two peoples (one historic and the other contemporary) suggest that rather than regarding Jews as their mortal enemy, the Palestinians may do well to emulate Jews instead: to educate their young, to build human capital in marketable skills (rather than martyrdom,) to be respectful of other people and cultures, and to work realistically with what you have. Will the Palestinians ever see this kind of leadership vision? The unfortunate fact is that most Middle East Muslims are still not done fighting the Crusaders.
Back to the book: it is exceedingly informative, but you must also get the other point of view (and their selection of data) to understand the whole picture. I might add that many books on this controversial and emotional subject tend to be unavoidably one-sided or otherwise incomplete. The book is well written with a lucid style, and one of the best in presenting the Palestinian view, and deserves to be read by those who want to go beyond sound-bite politics.
on December 6, 2000
I found this book to be an excellent resource for historical, cultural, and economic issues relating to the Palestinians. However, the authors have written with a discernable, pro-Palestinian bias. The bias is definitely anti-Britian, anti-American, and anti-Israeli. The authors' attempt at fairness by criticizing Arafat does not make the book balanced overall. If you can read past the biases, there is some excellent information in this book on the plight of the Palestinian people. The authors could have achieved five stars with me by just presenting the facts about the Palestinians and omitting the frequent condescensions.