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by Alan Dowty
Edition: Paperback
38 used & new from $2.08

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good resource, but biased and unbalanced, March 20, 2011
This review is from: Israel/Palestine (Paperback)
I recommend this book simply for the great collection of information it holds.

As other reviewers said, this book is relatively well-balanced. But be careful -- it's very difficult and nearly impossible to write a completely unbiased book. And anybody purchasing this book should note its pro-Israeli bias. To put the book to best use, it should be accompanied by a synopsis with a pro-Palestinian bias.

My major complaint in terms of bias is that the author constantly insists that the actions of Israel have been entirely existential while the Arab actors have consistently acted irrationally. Both wording and argument in this book assert that at many points in history, Israel had no other choice than to do exactly what it has done. Meanwhile, the Arab actors appear to be motivated by hatred for Jews, and the author never minds the common Arab viewpoint of Israelis as European invaders in land that is legitimately Arab. Dowty attempts to hide his bias by simply excusing the many failures of the Arabs as miscalculations, though the implications of his descriptions suggest that the miscalculations are caused by anti-Semitic sentiment.

Perhaps another complaint I have with this book claiming to be balanced is that the author does not demonstrate true understanding of the Arabs and their actions. Most striking is his claim that Muslims believe that Jesus resurrected (p48). Anybody claiming to understand the Arabs should know without hesitation that no Muslim in the world believes Jesus ever died -- let alone resurrect! Such a belief would be directly contradictory to the Qur'an and is condemned universally among Muslims. I could accept the argument that Dowty intends a balanced synopsis, but I do not see how such a synopsis can be balanced if he does not know the basic tenets of Islam.

If you need any tangible evidence that this book has a bias, look simply at the cover. You see three people using payphones. Two of them are Orthodox Jews, and one is an Arab. The Orthodox Jews are simply using the phone, while the Arab wields a gun. This perhaps strikes an Arab more than anyone else. An Arab, for example, would more likely associate the Arab with a rock, and would see the gun to be more fitting of the Orthodox Jews (partly because Israelis are usually the only ones who wield guns in the West Bank and Gaza, and partly because of a misguided Arab association of Orthodox Jews with violent ideological settlers). I'm not sure how a book can claim to be balanced and unbiased when the cover alone shows a clearly biased image that would outrightly offend an Arab reader.
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