on December 25, 2004
This is a brilliant book about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Had people heeded the simple facts it reminds us all of, perhaps the disastrous "Oslo" agreements (and even more disastrous insistence on enforcing only the demands upon Israel, not upon the Arabs) might have been avoided.
The author of this book became the Prime Minister of Israel, and thus the book shows that no one can stand up to the counterproductive pressure that is being applied to Israel. That's bad news for all sides in this dispute unless those of us who wish to resolve the conflict decide to value truth.
Netanyahu starts by reminding us of Israel's size. That's a major point. Given the number of Jews, it is sobering to realize just how little sovereign land they have, and just how little value that land has. It tells us quickly that if one side is being greedy in this conflict, it sure isn't Israel. Netanyhau also reminds us that the land promised to the Jews as a national homeland (not necessarily a state, just land on which Jews would have permanent rights, including rights of immigration) was five times as parge as present-day Israel. Again, exactly which side is being greedy?
The author then traces the history of Zionism, refuting a well-known lie by Arafat that the Zionists stole a verdant land from its age-old native Arab inhabitants. And he then gives a history of the British Mandate, which ended with the British openly supporting Arab opponents of Jewish rights.
Now we get to the meat of the book, namely a refutation of some truly absurd and arbitrary lies that many readers will find tough to believe were ever seriously proposed. The first is "the theory of Palestinian centrality." This is a claim that if one solves the problem of the Levantine Arabs, one can achieve peace in the Middle East! Netanyahu establishes that many people really say this, and he refutes them.
The next Big Lie is a "reversal of causality." It states that the problems of Levantine Arabs are a cause of the Arab attacks on Israel, not a result of them. The author disposes of this lie as well. Once again, the hard part is showing just how seriously some folks repeat this lie.
Next, Netanyahu discusses the problem of the PLO, a terrorist group that claims to be the sole representative of Levantine Arabs. He quite properly calls it a "Trojan horse." And he shows that establishing it as a state in the region is a counterproductive and immoral idea.
The author then addresses the question of how peace can be achieved. He says that for there to be peace, the Arab side must become convinced that aggression will have negative consequences. If most Arabs become convinced of that, they may decide that Israel has a right to exist after all, and that human rights for Jews are not an affront and a casus belli. From here, he argues that Israel needs some strategic depth, otherwise the temptation for Arabs to try to overwhelm it will be irresistable.
Netanyahu then discusses "the demographic demon." He makes some good points here. I think many people use demographics as a preposterous argument that runs something like this: Israel has a vast Empire of nearly 10,000 square miles. Obviously, that is way too big for a mere 11 million Jews, only 5 million of whom live in Israel. Yes, if nature takes its course, the tiny group of Jews will be overwhelmed in numbers by real people, who will outvote them. The tiny group of Jewish oppressors will get what they deserve. They will lose their vast Empire. They ought to quit now, and give away all but a truly tiny amount of land, an amount they can afford!
Of course, both 5 million and 11 million are large numbers, especially when compared to the number of Arabs per square mile of Arab land. It is worth reading what Netanyahu has to say about the argument that Jews aren't numerous enough to have as big a nation as Israel!
Netanyahu concludes that "peace must be built on foundations of security, justice, and above all, truth." He's right. Truth has indeed, as he says, been the first casualty of the Arab war on Israel. He points out that the problem is not territorial but existential. And that the story is of a people seeking to establish its rightful place among the nations. I agree. If our society can't accept the existence of this nation, no nation is safe, and any of them could be the next target.
on October 19, 2014
With all that is going on is Israel now, I wanted to read Netanyahu's book. I have not finished it as it is a slow read, but a great book! He is a great historian and writer. If you love books on history, you will love this book. If you want the truth about Israel and the areas that surround her, do not listen to the media! Read something about someone who, along with his father/grandfather have lived that history! I love and support Israel and its people and can't wait to finish the book!
on September 23, 2009
This honest, well balanced and comprehensive account of circumstances in which Israel finds itself is essential for anyone interested in the truth about the Middle East. One by one Benjamin Netanyahu strips away the lies that have come to characterize the unjust and hostile views in the world today about Israel and the Palestinians.
Taking us through the history of the country we learn how the link of the Jewish people to the Promised Land has remained strong throughout history. There have always been Jews living in Israel and in the period between the destruction of the Temple by the Romans and the creation of the modern Zionist movement there was always a significant Jewish presence.
He explains how Britain and the world agreed to a Jewish homeland in the whole of Palestine, which consisted of what is today Jordan, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and the rest of Israel. Eighty percent of that territory was cut off and awarded to the Arabs in 1922 creating the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, hence already giving the Palestinians their state.
It is impossible to cover all the worthwhile points illustrated in this book, but we also learn there never was a Palestinian nation and the name "Palestinian" was only adopted in recent decades as a distinct identity among Arabs. He points out the double standards prevalent in the world today, a world which so strongly condemns the only democracy in the Middle East for surviving while turning a blind eye to the horrific human rights abuses in the Arab world (and elsewhere):
"This is the root of the infamous, twisted standard by which the Arabs remain completely blameless for expelling hundreds of thousands of people - as Saudi Arabia did to its Yemenis in 1990 and Kuwait did to its Palestinians in 1991- while Israel is excoriated for deporting a cadre of terrorists; or by which Israel is condemned for maintaining the presence of a few hundred soldiers in a six mile sliver of Lebanon while Syria annexes almost the entire rest of the same country; or by which Saudi Arabia and Jordanian apartheid laws forbidding Jewish residence go unnoticed while Israel, whose Arab citizens are freer than those of Arab states, is accused of racism for quelling riots."
He explains how anti-Israel sentiments are a result of a wider hatred of the West and all it stands for such as democracy, freedom and Judeo-Christian values. While one is left with frustration at the gross injustice of the hate campaign - stronger today than ever- against Israel, he also leaves the reader with hope as he explains how Israel can prevail and how real peace can be achieved. His knowledge and straightforward presentation of the truth is a pleasure to read.
on May 10, 1997
After reading this book, I understood the nature of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute from the Israeli point of view. Well-known facts which were hidden from the international-community are exposed very clearly in the book. Even as an Israeli, I was amazed to find out how Israel was right, in every dispute, and how we can easyly reply to the Arabs arguements.
The book is recommanded for anyone who wants to understad the mideast policies and the way to achieve real peace with the Arab world