- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Verso; 2nd edition (April 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1859844421
- ISBN-13: 978-1859844427
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 51 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #496,771 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, New and Revised Edition 2nd Edition
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“... the most revealing study of the historical background of the conflict and the current peace agreement.”—Noam Chomsky, Guardian
“Norman Finkelstein is one of the most radical and hard-hitting critics of the official Zionist version of the Arab-Israeli conflict and of the historians who support this version ... The book makes a major contribution to the study of the Arab-Israeli conflict which deserves to be widely read, especially in the United States.”—Avi Shlaim
“Anyone interested in seeing justice brought to the Middle East must read this book.”—Charles Glass
“... this thoroughly documented book is guaranteed to stimulate and provoke. It will be required reading in the continuing war of the historians.”—William Quandt, Foreign Affairs
“... a thought-provoking work which calls into question many of the accepted ‘truths’ associated with the Israel-Palestine conflict.”—Middle East Journal
“... both an impressive analysis of Zionist ideology and a searing but scholarly indictment of Israel’s treatment of the Arabs since 1948.”—London Review of Books
About the Author
Norman G. Finkelstein is the author of A Nation on Trial (with Ruth Bettina Birn), named a notable book for 1998 by the New York Times Book Review, and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict.
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This is where Norman Finkelstein and IMAGE AND REALITY come into play. Finkelstein's parents were both survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto and Nazi concentration camps. Yet his mother had, given her background, a somewhat surprising take on the Middle East conflict: her question was, "What crime did the Palestinians commit except to be born in Palestine?" A very trenchant question.
In 1984, Joan Peters published the book "From Time Immemorial" which, essentially, denied that as of 1948 the majority of Palestinians had been born in Palestine. Peters's book was extolled in the United States. Among the members of the chorus were Martin Peretz, Barbara Tuchman, Saul Bellow, and Elie Wiesel. When published in Great Britain, however, the book was sharply criticized, even ridiculed, by scholars, and even in Israel it was dismissed as "sheer rubbish, except maybe as a propaganda weapon". Finkelstein calls it "among the most spectacular frauds ever published on the Arab-Israeli conflict" and as a threadbare hoax compares it to, ironically, the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." One of the chapters in IMAGE AND REALITY is devoted to a painstaking critique of "From Time Immemorial", and it is devastating.
Peters's scholarship and history appear to be so bad that her book might seem to be an easy mark, maybe even a straw man. But that's what makes so lamentable the reaction in the United States to the exposure of the flimflam. With but a few isolated exceptions, there was a massive cover-up among the liberal media. Of Peters's original endorsers, only two publicly acknowledged any lapses in her scholarship, and even they could not admit that her thesis had been discredited. Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of "The New Republic", alleged that the critical attack on Peters was part of a calculated leftist plot. And then, after the beginning of the Second Intifada in 2000, "From Time Immemorial" was reissued here in the United States and soared to the top of the Amazon list.
In the dichotomy of this book, Peters's thesis - that Palestine before the Zionists was "a land without a people" (and thus the pluperfect place for "a people without a land") - is the "image", whereas Finkelstein, in his chapter on "From Time Immemorial", presents the "reality". In other chapters Finkelstein addresses other "images", usually as presented in other noted publications: for example, that the Palestinian refugee problem of 1947-1949 was an inadvertent by-product of the war for independence and not an intended result; that the Zionist founders of Israel had benign intentions and did not envision or anticipate the use of force; that in both the June 1967 and October 1973 wars Israel was the unprovoked victim of Arab aggression. Finkelstein contrasts these images with what he contends is "reality".
In these other image/reality pairings, Finkelstein is not as convincing to me as he is in exposing "From Time Immemorial". Part of the problem is that each of the subjects probably deserves book-length treatment. (This is also indicated by the copious and detailed footnotes - 82 pages of footnotes for 225 pages of text.) Another part of the problem is that Finkelstein's style is so tendentious. At times I question how fair and balanced he is. On one ancillary issue about which I happen to know a fair amount, he is neither fair nor balanced, and he "cherry picks" quotes to support his position. Furthermore, the book is not easy reading.
No one should look to IMAGE AND REALITY for an overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is not intended or structured to be such. Further, it is now somewhat dated. (It was originally published in 1995, and though this second edition contains about fifty pages of new material it is now almost ten years old.) But the book is a valuable counterpoint to some historical propositions often taken for granted by Zionist Israel and its supporters. Before I espoused any of those propositions, I would first want to have read and carefully considered what Norman Finkelstein has written about them.
Finkelstein is a meticulous researcher and his conclusions demand serious thought and discussion. This book will not appeal to those who want a more ‘conformist’ view of the Middle East. It will be of interest to those who are eager to have a deeper understanding of the conflict and are less concerned with the ‘labels’; sadly in recent times the ‘labels’ seem to dominate all discussion about the Middle East. One is either ‘for’... or ‘against’..... Finkelstein goes beyond the superficial and questions the historical background with vigour and intelligence.
"From Time Immemorial", which claimed that the Palestinian residents of the area were "newcommers".
After reading this book, there are dozens of others that also reveal facts that are well hidden from Americans. One perhaps surprising source is the Israeli newspaper "Harratz", which has some liberal writers on its staff. (Freedom of speech is still in effect there, at least more so than in the US.)
Finally, I suggest trying out some of pro-Israeli books so that you can say you've heard both sides of the story.
I don't think there are any truly "neutral" writers. (For example, how many neutral observers were there during the war in Vietnam?)
Israel was not uninhabited when the Jews came in. Quite the contrary, it was rather fully occupied by Palestinians. Rather unsurprisingly, they did not exactly welcome the Jews. For the Jews to come in, Palestinians whose families had lived there for generations had to leave. The Jews used terror and atrocities to drive them out. Where did they learn these terror and atrocity methods? Simple. Hitler and Stalin had recently used them against the Jews. The ends justified horrific means.
Israel's wars against the Arabs, even starting with their war of liberation, were wars of aggression by the Arabs, but the other way around. Israel's victories should be no surprise. They not only had the advantage in arms, they had the advantage of timing.
I tended to overlook Israel's failings because I admire the incredible competence of individual Jews. They are very smart and industrious people. However, these admirable virtues do not offset the unconscionable act of having stolen their land from people who had lived there for centuries. Their incredibly artful propaganda, stemming from a nation of lawyers, only compounds the crime. If anything, we should hold such talented people to higher standards than others. They let us down.
Most recent customer reviews
this read is well researched (without room for the bs/biases). this writer (finkelstein) is a real human being with a heart the size of the moon.Read more