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The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan Spyer
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"With talent and insight, Jonathan Spyer humanizes the impact of Israel's having to fight a new enemy, not states but Islamist terror organizations, Hizbullah and Hamas in particular. Reading his book is poignantly and vicariously to live through the past decade of Israel's turmoil, with its many attendant tragedies and its few triumphs." — Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum

"Jonathan Spyer's The Transforming Fire is a dazzling book but it is not a simple book. Steeped in learning, alert to nuance, comprehending of momentous changes in the world of the Muslims, he has written a work that deeply understands the Islamic threat to Israel and how Israel will defeat it." —Martin Peretz, Editor in Chief, The New Republic

"Jonathan Spyer, one of the smartest commentators on the Middle East, has written a brilliant, heartbreaking account of life and death in contemporary Israel. A seamless weave of analysis and memoir, "The Transforming Fire" should be on the very short list of indispensable books about Israel and the Middle East conflict."
-Yossi Klein Halevi, author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden, and Israel correspondent and contributing editor of The New Republic.


"How can a society remain perpetually ready for war yet uncorrupted by the readiness?It is a question posed by Jonathan Spyer in "The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict," and it's a thoughtful question that highlights the book's composition as equal parts philosophical memoir and strategic analysis."-The Washington Times

"To read The Transforming Fire is to discover a thoughtful Israeli who might well have been killed fighting Islamists. Making sense of it, Jonathan Spyer is clear that among other consequences Islamism has given the old Arab-Israeli dispute a new ideological character, one so intractable that Arabs and Israelis will be engaged in a test of strength for a long time. This is one of those rare books in which experience and ideas support one another, and altogether illuminate what to expect in today?s Middle East." —David Pryce-Jones

'Jonathan Spyer's new book is like a breath of fresh air in the stifling public area of public Mideast discourse, not only for its bracing content, but also for its insistence that history is a combination of ideological motivations and real people who live by them... It's an excellent book. Read it.'
(yaacovlozowick.blogspot.com)

"With talent and insight, Jonathan Spyer humanizes the impact of Israel’s having to fight a new enemy, not states but Islamist terror organizations, Hizbullah and Hamas in particular. Reading his book is poignantly and vicariously to live through the past decade of Israel’s turmoil, with its many attendant tragedies and its few triumphs." — Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum

"Jonathan Spyer’s The Transforming Fire is a dazzling book but it is not a simple book. Steeped in learning, alert to nuance, comprehending of momentous changes in the world of the Muslims, he has written a work that deeply understands the Islamic threat to Israel and how Israel will defeat it." —Martin Peretz, Editor in Chief,  The New Republic

"Jonathan Spyer, one of the smartest commentators on the Middle East, has written a brilliant, heartbreaking account of life and death in contemporary Israel.  A seamless weave of analysis and memoir,  “The Transforming Fire” should be on the very short list of indispensable books about Israel and the Middle East conflict."
-Yossi Klein Halevi, author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden, and Israel correspondent and contributing editor of The New Republic.


“How can a society remain perpetually ready for war yet uncorrupted by the readiness?It is a question posed by Jonathan Spyer in "The Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict," and it's a thoughtful question that highlights the book's composition as equal parts philosophical memoir and strategic analysis.”-The Washington Times

'Jonathan Spyer's new book is like a breath of fresh air in the stifling public area of public Mideast discourse, not only for its bracing content, but also for its insistence that history is a combination of ideological motivations and real people who live by them… It's an excellent book. Read it.’
(Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Jonathan Spyer immigrated to Israel from Britain in 1991. He is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel, and a columnist at the Jerusalem Post newspaper. Spyer holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Masters' Degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He served in a front-line unit of the Israel Defense Forces in 1992-3, and fought in the war in Lebanon in summer 2006. Between 1996 and 2000, Spyer was an employee of the Israel Prime Minister's Office. His articles have also appeared in the Guardian, Haaretz, London Times, Washington Times,Toronto Globe and Mail, the Australian, British Journal of Middle East Studies, Israel Affairs and Middle East Review of International Affairs.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1834 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum; 1 edition (November 18, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0051NI3A0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #908,474 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
This book is extremely important. It should be read by all the major figures involved in Middle East affairs, first of all by President Obama. Why? Because it shows how superficial and mistaken Presidential Middle- Eastern policy has been in assuming that the conflict between Israel and its adversaries , is a purely national one which can be solved by dividing the disputed Land. Spyer shows that what has been happening in the past ten years especially is that the nature of the Middle East conflict has been redefined. It is no longer primarily a battle between 'national claims'. The Islamic religious dimension which was also a part of the equation has become predominant. Israel's enemies are now not simply traditional Arab ones but more dangerously Iran and other non- Arab Islamic countries. Spyer who fought on the Israel side in the 2006 botched war with Hizbollah is an expert on Lebanon. There the Iranian influence is the major one , and Hizbollah relies on its patron for both funding and weapons. The West has according to Spyer been blindsided in Lebanon and allowed Iran and Syria to in effect be the outside powers controlling the country. Israel which withdrew from Lebanon now faces an Islamist enemy there. Its withdrawal from Gaza led it to have an Islamist Hamas as its enemy there. Iran is also involved in training and arming the Hamas. Spyer is acute in showing up the Iranian modus operandi, their use of surrogates to do their bidding for them. He sees Israel now as surrounded by a group of Islamist enemies one not at all interested in compromise. This new situation diminishes greatly the likelihood of any negotiated settlement . Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Islamism 2010 December 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover
"Transforming Fire: The Rise of the Israel-Islamist Conflict" by Jonathan Spyer, (2010), English. The author is a researcher at the "Global Research in International Affairs Center" in Herzliya (Israel), he is a Jerusalem Post newspaper columnist, and served in the Israeli tank corps as an Army Reservist. The author presents the issue that while in the 1950s the anti-Israel movement was led by various Arab secular `Nationalist' leaders (Nasser, Assad) [with support from the old Soviet Union during its Cold War against the West], but with their passage the 2000-era anti-Israel movement is being led and funded by religious-oriented `Islamist' governments, such as that of Shia Iran and petrodollars from Sunni Saudi Arabia. The author believes that Prime Minister Rabin developed a `fear' the PLO's incessant war against Israel, and so he sought `accommodation' with Arafat (p. 71). The author weaves together the overall anti-Israel campaign: the Arabs see Israel as a `humiliation' with its being the last `Western colony' still occupying the Muslim Middle East, and that this dispute isn't over `real estate' but is instead based on a religious conflict that is about a "clash of ideas and symbols, based on the fundamental rejection on the part of the Arab/Muslim side of the right of the Jewish side to sovereignty in any part of the area in question" (p. 140). [A replay of the `Clash of Civilizations'.] The author notes that his book "is not the final word" on this subject, as the Islamists continue their war against Israel the author believes that there will be "no end" until one or the other camp is defeated. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A modern look at an ancient conflict July 3, 2011
By Meir
Format:Hardcover
Others have done an excellent review of the details of this book, so I'll jump right to the bottom line-this book is beyond timely and an absolute necessity to understand the current state of affairs in the Middle East and, in particular, the meaning of the revolutions in Egypt and Syria. I served in the IDF in the mid 80s in Lebanon and thought I knew a lot about the underlying issues and outlook. Jonathan Spyer proved me wrong in a very enlightening way. Things have changed dramatically in the last 25 years and Mr. Spyer's insight ties together a lot of things that are making headlines lately.

Since the book was published there have been a number of events in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria that validate Mr. Spyer's theories and also provide a bit of a fright with regard to the future. You should read the book if you are following events in Egypt and Syria, as Mr. Spyer was either prescient or just very lucky in a way that is very unlikely.

I actually bought the book hoping to get a first hand commentary on the action in the most recent Israel/Hizballah war in Lebanon and was at first a bit disappointed that the action is just a wrapper for a much more substantial analysis of the history, present, and likely future of the conflict. But after reading the book, I think Mr. Spyer has done a laudable job of honoring the goal he set out to achieve. And while the book has a bit of a pessimistic surface, the underlying strength and positive outlook put things in proper context.

A well written book that is a must read for anyone opining on, or even contemplating, Middle East events.
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