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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 (9 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: Bloomsbury Academic (November 18, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0051NI3A0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,063,493 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books on this subject February 14, 2011
By Steve-o
Format:Hardcover
Anyone who is interested in this subject, and who wants to truly understand the nature of this conflict, the threat from radical Islamic extremists, and what makes Israelis tick MUST read this book.

Spyer fleshes out a number of sub-topics really well, and makes some very sharp connections along the way. And the personalized, almost emotional-sentimental tone, really complements it - makes it quite readable and heartfelt (compared to most books on this subject).

His thesis focuses on a few important phenomenon - namely the fact that this conflict from the Arab-Muslim perspective has morphed from one (perceived as) being about territory and nationalism, into one about ideology (which is largely impossible to accommodate). The chapter "The New Jerusalem" explores the new centrist consensus and modern patriotism that has emerged within Israel (increasingly led by formerly peripheral segments of society, such as the Sephardim and Modern Orthodox), which remains committed to the State of Israel, skeptical of the peace process (lack of partner on the other side), but willing and open to compromise.

Original, knowledgeable, brilliant. Read this book.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique and fascinating January 23, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is unique that it combines personal experience with academic research and analysis. The personal aspect is engaging, yet it is not a journalistic work, but rather that of a researcher who has learned by way of journey.
Today those that seek to understand the contempory Middle East, especially in the context of the Israeli-Islamic conflict are in danger of being deflected or misled by the standard coverage of the area. Decades of shallow and simplistic news coverage from journalists who had received an easy but interesting assignment, or journalists who are advancing pet agendas, have cast a very particular slant on the established and accepted views of the dynamics of the region.
This book has laid these dynamics bare, casting off the tiresome platitudes and assumptions of those that seek to shape the world by mobilizing mass opinion.
For the champions of liberal etiquette, the discussion or analysis of the rise of Islamism is a subject on the verge of taboo, and if it is to be tackled, it is explained away as a response to Capitalism and the Imperialism that came before it. This book is not shackled by such blinkered sensibilities, and those who are wondering if their heads are deep in the sand, would do well to read this work.
Another fascinating aspect is the analysis of the change that has taken place in Israel from the early 1990's until today. Israeli society and its motives, whether political or otherwise are rarely tackled by those who cover the region. This subject is gravely misunderstood if understood at all. Usually a depiction of the Israeli lunatic fringe as being the mainstream, suffices for the average European journalist who thus both adds color to his/her article and strengthens entrenched stereotypes yet further. Both help sell newspapers.
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