- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (August 10, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1400065321
- ISBN-13: 978-1400065325
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,020,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Balfour Declaration: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict Hardcover – August 10, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
According to Schneer (London 1900), an expert in modern British history at Georgia Tech, intrigue and British doubledealing defined the 1917 Balfour Declaration of British support for a Jewish "national home" in Palestine as much as bravery and vision, leading to the disillusionment, distrust, and resentment that still dominate the region today. British Jewish chemist and Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann orchestrated the campaign to persuade powerful men that support for Zionism would benefit Britain's wartime cause and the ensuing peace. Perhaps most shrewdly, Weizmann lobbied former prime minister Arthur James Balfour, then a member of Britain's War Council. Meanwhile, Grand Sharif Hussein and his sons had won British backing for an Arab kingdom, which would presumably include Palestine, and with British encouragement rebelled against the Ottomans in 1916. Through British duplicity, the French also believed they had a interest in Palestine. And three months after the Balfour Declaration, British prime minister Lloyd George proposed a separate peace with Turkey, with the Ottomans remaining in Palestine. This perceptive, complex book will best be appreciated by Middle East historians, analysts, and policy wonks possessing a substantial prior understanding of the intricacies of the region and its players. 16 pages of b&w photos; 7 maps.
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In November 1917, the British government stated that it would “view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” It was, in retrospect, a startlingly brief statement, which received little attention at the time. Since then, Zionists have regarded it as a declaration of the Jewish right to create an independent Jewish state; for Arabs, it is viewed as an outrageous case of imperialist manipulation and betrayal. Schneer writes a fascinating and scrupulously balanced account of the events and intense maneuvers that led to the issuance of the declaration. He superbly navigates between the various conflicting interests and lobbying efforts of Zionists, Arabs, and opposing elements within the British government. There are no heroes here; one is left with the impression that the Zionists “won” simply because they were more relentless and ruthless than their opposition, which included many non-Zionist Jews. --Jay Freeman
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Top Customer Reviews
Dr. Jonathan Schneer has written a succinctly meticulous book on the origins of Zionism and the generated Arab mistrust of the West because of their betrayal by the British. That is the main theme of the book, on how the British put out to support two radically opposite groups to maintain their own hegemony in the Middle East. Under the augury of some esoteric and omnipotent international Jewry who the British thought had some control over the politics of The Great War, Effective Zionism was born under the handling of the charismatic (and perhaps duplicitous) Chaim Weizmann with the ultimate goal, of a settlement colony of Jewish people in Palestine under the rue of the British mandate. (Schneer does write very effectively and pedagogically on how there was a good amount internal almost sectarian conflict within the British Jewish community over the concept of Zionism...there was a good [perhaps virulent] anti-Zionist sector of the Jewish community]. The other side had the Arabs under Sayyid Hussein bin Ali and (his most prominent son) King Faisal who under the false pretense of the British revolted against Ottoman empire and were promised a Arab Kingdom that included the "Holy Land", or so they thought.
Ultimately, the book is written from British perspective, but does a superb job of having balanced point of view of the Arabs and the Zionists. One controversy that can be argued form the book is weather the British were actively being deceptive and perfidious with the Arabs, who did not found out about the Balfour Declaration until it was almost to late or was it just a whetting out the "Divide and Conquer" tactic that best fit the crumbling Empire. I think Scnheer makes it case for the latter, but not without a good exposition of the possible perfidious inclination of the Home Office, but let the reader make his own decision. (While the Zionist employed their suave persuasion skills in the conversations/dinners in England, the Arabs were putting their lives on the line in hope of a Kingdom, i.e. the almost suicidal track to Aqaba under the ambitious genius T.E. Lawrence aka "El Aurens", and revolt against a much better organized and efficacious Turkish military).
Schneer writing style is almost too good to be true...I read the book within a week. The book is intended for a non-academic audience and it does an excellent job in its narrative style, but Schneer does such a good job at organizing his well-analyzed research [the book is divided very effectively into chapters that deal with the Arabs, the Zionist, The British Home Office, etc.] that I think the book can be used for an academic audience as well. In fact, it would do well for an introductory book on the background & context of the history of the modern Middle East.
I personally read this book to help me prepare for reading Lawrence's romantic Seven Pillars Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph and I think it has done just that...also it most probably has help me prepare for reading Fomkin's A Peace to End All Peace A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East.
Overall: MUST READ!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is very good and in parts outstanding a describing of the...Read more
More disappointingly however, Schneer seems to be actively obfuscating the role of the most influential people pulling...Read more