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Comment: 2007 Beacon Press softcover. Ex-library edition. Light tanning/scuffing on page edges. No writing or highlighting! Minor edge wear. Great otherwise!
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The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood Paperback – September 1, 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807003093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807003091
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #483,593 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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

More About the Author

Rashid Khalidi is the author of Brokers of Deceit: How the U.S. Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East (Beacon Press, 2013) and six other books about the Middle East--Sowing Crisis, The Iron Cage, Resurrecting Empire, Origins of Arab Nationalism, Under Siege, and the award-winning Palestinian Identity. He is the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies at Columbia University and editor of the Journal of Palestine Studies. He has written more than eighty articles on Middle Eastern history and politics, including pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many journals. Professor Khalidi has received fellowships and grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Rockefeller Foundation; he was also the recipient of a Fulbright research award. Professor Khalidi has been a regular guest on numerous radio and TV shows, including All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Nightline.

Photo Credit: Alex Levac, 2011.

Customer Reviews

This book is very informative and definitely worth reading.
Ben Franklin
The Peel commission gave the vast majority of the territory to the Palestinians - at least with hindsight, wasn't rejecting it a huge blunder?
Omer Belsky
I read about the middle east conflict from different sources and this book seems to put it all in one place.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

212 of 237 people found the following review helpful By A Reader in NY on November 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's so interesting to see the reviews for Khalidi's books as opposed to Chomsky or even Morris. People review based on their personal opinion of Rashid Khalidi and not the book itself. People, he is not a politician, but a historian, and his arguments are historically, well argued. Its fine to disagree, if you have a point, make it, but for the readers on Amazon its tiring to see the attacks and praise on the author and not on the book, and quite irrelevant really.

I personally found this book to be quite well balanced on both sides, Khalidi aruges that the Palestinians are partially responsible for their failed state, due to poor political decision making, so how can this be an entirely biased thesis? I really wish people would read the books they review.
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65 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In the long introduction to his very repetitive book in which he sets out to explain why the Palestinians have failed in their struggle for statehood, Professor Khalidi of Columbia University explains how the odds were stacked against them as the result of the policies of Britain, the United States, the surrounding Arab states and of course of the yishuv and then of Israel. All of this, he says, is well known, though not as well-known as it should be. However, he writes that he would focus on the role the Palestinians played themselves, and will `put the Palestinians at the centre of their own story'.

To what extent does he manage in the main part of the book to fulfil that aim? The first chapter does indeed look at the internal weaknesses of the Palestinians compared with the Jewish immigrants: they were less educated (though better than the Arabs in the neighbouring countries); they had fewer economic resources; the majority was rural rather than urban; they were less united; and they failed to build up the infrastructures of future statehood.

But then in the second chapter, he places the blame for this latter failing on the British Mandate. The Mandate for Palestine incorporated the entire text of the Balfour Declaration, which recognized the national character of the Jews, while failing to mention the national character of the Palestinians. The mandatory authorities insisted in all the encounters with Palestinian nationalists that acceptance of the Balfour Declaration was a prerequisite if the Palestinians were to be given representative institutions and the kind of status that the Jewish Agency enjoyed.
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124 of 158 people found the following review helpful By helen MciKeever on October 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This is a marvellous read on an extremely complex and massively relevant topic. I.e., it got great reviews from the New York Times. I was much surprized to see the rant and attack on it here on Amazon as the only review at this moment in early October 2006...however, the book is just out. It is unfortunate that the single reviewer so far does nothing but blow their stack. Viewing the book, which is amazingly middle of the road, it is certainly somewhat critical of both sides in a conflict but highly informative. Given that the topic itself is so over heated even a book such as this by Khalidi will receive from one group or another being discussed angry rants: it would be unfortunate if any reader was stopped by that type of response. Rather it is understandable that anger arises, and arises in the context of the topic. This in itself signals the desperate need for a book such as this...a brave and noble attempt to balance and assess histories of people who for the most part are incapable of doing that themselves.
Khalidi's is a book about two histories, intertwined to the point of suffocation and anhilation; namely, that of the Palestinians and to some extent the Israeli's very little thanks. Yet, such responses are symptoms of the injury and wounds that don't heal. And it is because each side refuses the Other, the experience of the Other, and the arguments of the Other, that such a book or books are desperately needed. Khalidi is an eminant scholar and a highly respected one. It is unlikely that any one can do better than he does in covering the topics he covers with considerable skill and sensitivity. This is a must read, especially for those who most violently refuse. One might say that Khalidi is attempting to de-toxify one of the most historically toxic problems in the Middle East.
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113 of 144 people found the following review helpful By ArabAmericanChristian on November 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It is painfully apparent that the reviewers who dislike Mr. Khalidi's book do so out of their desire to act as one-sided apologists for the Israeli state, instead of seriously engaging in a historical debate of the issues. If you are interested in the Truth about the core of today's problems in Israel / Palestine, buy and read this book.
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26 of 35 people found the following review helpful By William Podmore on March 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Professor Rashid Khalidi, a historian at Columbia University in the City of New York, has written a brilliant account of the Palestinian people's struggle for national self-determination.

He shows how in the 1920s and 1930s, the British Empire deprived the Palestinians of all democracy to stop them defeating the Zionist project. The Mandate for Palestine, like the Balfour Declaration, made no reference to Palestinians or Arabs, only to `non-Jewish communities' who had only civil and religious, not national or political, rights. By contrast, both Mandate and Declaration asserted that the `Jewish people' had the right to a `national home'.

Khalidi notes the British Empire's `vast experience in thwarting the will of majorities in different countries'. He shows in detail how it divided, diverted and distracted all opposition to its rule. The Empire's rulers always presented the colonies as made up of incompatible religious and ethnic communities, who would be at each other's throats without the benevolent presence of the British.

Khalidi dissects the Zionist myth that `seven Arab armies' invaded Israel in 1948-49. The fiercest fighting was the Jordanian army's defence of areas assigned by the UN to the Arab state, and of the UN-defined area around Jerusalem, against Israeli offensives.

He records that in 1991, the first Bush Government pledged "to oppose settlement activity in the territories occupied in 1967, which remains an obstacle to peace." But the US government broke its word: it backed the Israelis throughout the 1990s building new settlements to reinforce their illegal occupation.
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