Scattered over the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea lie the remnants of failed peace proposals, international summits, secret negotiations, UN resolutions, and state-building efforts. The conventional story is that these well-meaning attempts at peacemaking were repeatedly, perhaps terminally, thwarted by violence.
Through a rich interweaving of reportage, historical narrative, and powerful analysis, Nathan Thrall presents a startling counter-history. He shows that force—including but not limited to violence—has impelled each side to make its largest concessions, from Palestinian acceptance of a two-state solution to Israeli territorial withdrawals. This simple fact has been neglected by the world powers, which have expended countless resources on initiatives meant to diminish friction between the parties. By quashing any hint of confrontation, promising an imminent negotiated solution, facilitating security cooperation, developing the institutions of a still unborn Palestinian state, and providing bounteous economic and military assistance, the United States and Europe have merely entrenched the conflict by lessening the incentives to end it. Thrall’s important book upends the beliefs steering these failed policies, revealing how the aversion of pain, not the promise of peace, has driven compromise for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Published as Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza reaches its fiftieth anniversary, which is also the centenary of the Balfour Declaration that first promised a Jewish national home in Palestine, The Only Language They Understand advances a bold thesis that shatters ingrained positions of both left and right and provides a new and eye-opening understanding of this most vexed of lands.
Tom Segev's acclaimed works, 1949 and The Seventh Million, overturned accepted views of the history of Israel. Now Segev explores the dramatic period before the creation of the state, when Britain ruled over "one Palestine, complete" (as noted in the receipt signed by the High Commissioner) and when its promise to both Jews and Arabs that they would inherit the land set in motion the conflict that haunts the region to this day.
Drawing on a wealth of untapped archival materials, Segev reconstructs a tumultuous era (1917 to 1948) of limitless possibilities and tragic missteps. He introduces the legendary figures--General Allenby, Lawrence of Arabia, David Ben-Gurion--as well as an array of pioneers, secret agents, diplomats, and fanatics. He tracks the steady advance of Jews and Arabs toward confrontation and with his hallmark originality puts forward a radical new argument: that the British, far from being pro-Arab, as commonly thought, consistently favored the Zionist position, and did so out of the mistaken--and anti-Semitic belief that Jews turned the wheels of history.
Rich in unforgettable characters, sensitive to all perspectives, One Palestine, Complete brilliantly depicts the decline of an empire, the birth of one nation, and the tragedy of another.