Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1998

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Righteous Victims, by the noted historian Benny Morris, is a comprehensive and
objective history of the long battle between Arabs and Jews for possession of a land they both call home. It appears at a most timely juncture, as the bloody and protracted struggle seems at last to be headed for resolution.

With great clarity of vision, Professor Morris finds the roots of this conflict in the deep religious, ethnic, and political differences between the Zionist immigrants and the native Arab population of Palestine. He describes the gradual influx of Jewish settlers, which was eventually fiercely resisted by the Arabs during the decades of  British Mandatory government following World War I.

The establishment of the State of Israel in 1947 - 48 gave the Jews a homeland in the wake of the Holocaust, but the ensuing flight of the Palestinian Arabs shattered their society and led to the birth of a festering refugee problem. Morris describes these epic events and the Arab onslaught that followed, as he does each of the subsequent wars (in 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982 - 85); the Intifada of 1987 - 91, when the Palestinian populace of the West Bank and Gaza Strip rebelled against Israeli rule; and the rise of fundamentalist religious movements on both sides of the barricades. Tracing the successes and failures of politicians, generals, and diplomats in both camps, he regards their actions and plight with accuracy and empathy, drawing on archival materials, memoirs, and secondary works to give a vivid account of each major military encounter--and of the vicissitudes of peace efforts from the post-1948 negotiations through the Camp David (1977 - 79), Oslo (1993 - 95), and Wye River Plantation (1998) accords. Mr. Morris offers sharply etched portraits and illuminating anecdotes about the charismatic leaders who have been the chief protagonists of this contentious history, including Theodor Herzl, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, David Ben-Gurion, Anwar Sadat, and Menachem Begin, to name only a few.

Righteous Victims ends with Mr. Morris's analysis of the current state of play, when the election of Ehud Barak as prime minister (May 1999) has opened the door to a renewal of negotiations between Israel and its Palestinian and Syrian neighbors. As the denizens of the Middle East set out to write the next chapter in this long and difficult struggle, Righteous Victims is essential reading: a monumental work of narration and explication for all who seek to understand the history of the conflict and the prospects for peace.
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About the author

Benny Morris is Professor of History at Ben-Gurion University, Beersheba, Israel, and is the author of a number of books on Middle Eastern history, including The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947 - 1949.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Vintage
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Published on
May 25, 2011
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Pages
800
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ISBN
9780307788054
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / Israel & Palestine
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / World / Middle Eastern
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Brookings Institution Press and the University of California Press publication

Updated through the first term of President George W. Bush, the latest edition of this classic work analyzes how each U.S. president since Lyndon Johnson has dealt with the complex challenge of Arab-Israeli peacemaking. There have been remarkable successes—such as the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty—frustrating failures, and dangerous wars along the way. This book helps to situate the current Middle East crisis in historical context and point to some possible ways out of the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians. Quandt suggests a clear U.S. commitment to a two-state solution—one that would assure Israel of security and peace within the 1967 treaty-established borders, offer the Palestinians an early end to Israeli occupation of Gaza and most of the West Bank, and establish both a Jewish and Arab Jerusalem.

Written especially for classroom use, Peace Process is also an invaluable resource for policymakers and anyone interested in this vital region of the world.

Praise for previous editions of Peace Process

“Clearly written, carefully balanced and comprehensive in scope . . . should prove invaluable to all serious students of American foreign policy.”—New York Times Book Review

“A major work, whether judged by the standards of classical diplomatic history or modern political science.”—Foreign Affairs

“Provides fresh insights into the complexities of creating the process and defining the substance of American foreign policymaking.”—Survival

“While objective to a fault, Quandt writes with an insider's knowledge of policymaking and decisions taken at the highest levels of government.”—Middle East Policy

“Both a history and analysis of an evolving relationship between Israel and its Arab opponents.”—Choice

“A major contribution to understanding the complexity of U.S. presidents’ handling of the [Arab-Israeli] conflict. It should be compulsory reading for anyone studying the Middle East conflict, peacemaking and conflict resolution.”—Journal of Peace Research
Yossi Alpher, a veteran of peace process research and dialogue, explains how Israel got into its current situation of growing international isolation, political stalemate, and gathering messianic political influence. He investigates the inability of Israelis and Palestinians to make peace and end their conflict before suggesting not “solutions” (as there is no current prospect for a realistic comprehensive solution), but ways to moderate and soften the worst aspects of the situation and “muddle through” as Israel looks to a somber bi-national future.

Alpher argues that a sober reassessment is long overdue in the way the West looks at the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. He submits that we have to stop talking about “the peace process” as if it still seriously exists, that 20 years of the Oslo process have failed for very substantial reasons that the professional peacemakers ignore at their risk, and that Israel is more likely to sink into a single-state reality than to remain truly “Jewish and democratic.” Yet, his is a non-ideological, no nonsense book. Israel will not disappear, will not become impoverished, and will still find strategic partners.

The book opens with a true story of two sisters whose lives were separated in 1947, as a parable for what is still happening in Israel’s relations with the Arab world in general and the Palestinians in particular. It then offers brief analyses of how Israel looks today in the world, from a rejection of deceptive nostalgia for imaginary “good old days” to a discussion of Israel’s increasingly problematic internal cohesion and the paralysis this generates in decision making regarding territories-for-peace issues. A discussion of Diaspora Jewish influence focuses on the Diaspora’s anachronistic approach to the peace process. It is followed by a look at the highly negative effect regional developments are having on Israeli attitudes toward Arabs in general and peace in particular, using the summer 2014 war with Gaza-based Hamas as a case in point. Next comes a discussion of the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and peace process, looking at the principal processes and dynamics that have thwarted peace and coexistence since the 1930s. Alpher argues that peace process practitioners on all sides—Israel, Palestinians, other Arabs, the US, the UN—have consistently ignored these dynamics or refused to take them seriously, producing today’s stalemate. The book concludes with a look at the scaled-down alternatives available today for avoiding, or at least delaying, total paralysis and a one-state reality. These include a UN approach and another unilateral withdrawal. It concludes with an examination of the increasingly influential Israeli proponents of a one-state solution and the spectacular damage their policies are bringing about.
Benny Morris is the founding father of the New Historians, a group of Israeli scholars who have challenged long-established perceptions about the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Their research rigorously documented crimes and atrocities committed by the Israeli armed forces, including rape, torture, and ethnic cleansing. With Making Israel, Morris brings together the first collection of translated articles on the New History by leading Zionist and revisionist Israeli historians, providing Americans with a firsthand view of this important debate and enabling a better understanding of how the New Historians have influenced Israelis' awareness of their own past. "The study of Israeli history, society, politics, and economics over the past two decades has been marked by a fierce and sometimes highly personal debate between 'traditionalists'---scholars who generally interpreted Israeli history and society within the Zionist ethos---and 'revisionists'---scholars who challenged conventional Zionist narratives of Israeli history and society. Making Israel brings together traditionalists and revisionists who openly and directly lay out their key insights about Israel's origins. It also introduces multidisciplinary perspectives on Israel by historians and sociologists, each bringing into the debate its own jargon, its own epistemology and methodology, and its own array of substantive issues. This is essential reading for anybody who wants to understand the different interpretations of Israeli society and perhaps the central debate among students of modern Israel."
---Zeev Maoz, Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Davis, and Distinguished Fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya "Israel's 'new historians' have done a great service to their country, and to all who care about the Arab-Israeli conflict. By challenging myths, reexamining evidence, and asking truly important questions about the past they help to confront the present with honesty and realism. This book provides a sampling of the best of what these courageous voices have to offer."
---William B. Quandt, University of Virginia Benny Morris is Professor of Middle East history at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel, and is the author of Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW AND THE ECONOMIST

Winner of the Natan Book Award, the National Jewish Book Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award

An authoritative and deeply personal narrative history of the State of Israel, by one of the most influential journalists writing about the Middle East today
 
Not since Thomas L. Friedman’s groundbreaking From Beirut to Jerusalem has a book captured the essence and the beating heart of the Middle East as keenly and dynamically as My Promised Land. Facing unprecedented internal and external pressures, Israel today is at a moment of existential crisis. Ari Shavit draws on interviews, historical documents, private diaries, and letters, as well as his own family’s story, illuminating the pivotal moments of the Zionist century to tell a riveting narrative that is larger than the sum of its parts: both personal and national, both deeply human and of profound historical dimension.
 
We meet Shavit’s great-grandfather, a British Zionist who in 1897 visited the Holy Land on a Thomas Cook tour and understood that it was the way of the future for his people; the idealist young farmer who bought land from his Arab neighbor in the 1920s to grow the Jaffa oranges that would create Palestine’s booming economy; the visionary youth group leader who, in the 1940s, transformed Masada from the neglected ruins of an extremist sect into a powerful symbol for Zionism; the Palestinian who as a young man in 1948 was driven with his family from his home during the expulsion from Lydda; the immigrant orphans of Europe’s Holocaust, who took on menial work and focused on raising their children to become the leaders of the new state; the pragmatic engineer who was instrumental in developing Israel’s nuclear program in the 1960s, in the only interview he ever gave; the zealous religious Zionists who started the settler movement in the 1970s; the dot-com entrepreneurs and young men and women behind Tel-Aviv’s booming club scene; and today’s architects of Israel’s foreign policy with Iran, whose nuclear threat looms ominously over the tiny country.

As it examines the complexities and contradictions of the Israeli condition, My Promised Land asks difficult but important questions: Why did Israel come to be? How did it come to be? Can Israel survive? Culminating with an analysis of the issues and threats that Israel is currently facing, My Promised Land uses the defining events of the past to shed new light on the present. The result is a landmark portrait of a small, vibrant country living on the edge, whose identity and presence play a crucial role in today’s global political landscape.

Praise for My Promised Land

“This book will sweep you up in its narrative force and not let go of you until it is done. [Shavit’s] accomplishment is so unlikely, so total . . . that it makes you believe anything is possible, even, God help us, peace in the Middle East.”—Simon Schama, Financial Times
 
“[A] must-read book.”—Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times
 
“Important and powerful . . . the least tendentious book about Israel I have ever read.”—Leon Wieseltier, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Spellbinding . . . Shavit’s prophetic voice carries lessons that all sides need to hear.”—The Economist
 
“One of the most nuanced and challenging books written on Israel in years.”—The Wall Street Journal
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