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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At heart a historical essay, an effort to decide why the Palestinians . . . have failed to achieve an independent state.—Steven Erlanger, New York Times
"A first-rate and up-to-date historical and political analysis of the Palestinian predicament."—Publishers Weekly's 100 Best Books issue
"In a refreshing contrast to the yammering bazaar of complaint and allegation that has dominated American public discussion of the Middle East since Sept. 11, 2001, The Iron Cage
is a patient and eloquent work, ranging over the whole of modern Palestinian history from World War I to the death of Yasser Arafat. Reorienting the Palestinian narrative around the attitudes and tactics of the Palestinians themselves, Khalidi lends a remarkable illumination to a story so wearily familiar it is often hard to believe anything new can be found within."—Jonathan Shainin, Salon
"Khalidi uses history to provide a clear-eyed view of the region and assess the prospects for peace. He strives successfully for even-handedness."—Anthony Lewis, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Gideon's Trumpet
and Make No Law
"A work of forceful historical analysis written in a spirit of self-examination."—Bashir Abu-Manneh, The Nation
"Magisterial in scope, meticulous in its attention to detail, and decidedly dispassionate in its analysis, The Iron Cage
is destined to be a benchmark of its genre." —Joel Schalit, Tikkun
"Khalidi, tackling 'historical amnesia,' brilliantly analyses the structural handicap which hobbled the Palestinians throughout 30 years of British rule . . . Khalidi restores the Palestinians to something more than victims, acknowledging that for all their disadvantages, they have played their role and can (and must) still do so to determine their own fate." —Ian Black, Guardian