Another contribution to the vast body of propagandistic literature (produced by both sides) that has helped to block a...


THE RISE AND FAIL OF PALESTINE: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years

Another contribution to the vast body of propagandistic literature (produced by both sides) that has helped to block a balanced discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Finkelstein (Political Theory/New York Univ.) largely bases his history of the Intifada (1988-91), the revolt by Palestinians against Israeli occupation, on several visits to, and teaching experience in, the West Bank. He does provide some vivid, moving anecdotal material about the very real socioeconomic suffering and violence the Palestinians have endured during the 29 years of Israeli occupation. But this book is fatally compromised by a radical anti-Israel animus. In the service of his bias, Finkelstein sometimes distorts history, as in his ludicrous claim that ""Israel's founding father, David Ben-Gurion, envisioned that the future state would incorporate the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, the Golan Heights, and Lebanon,"" and his assertion that ""it was Yasir Arafat's acceptance of the two-state solution that triggered Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982."" There is no evidence for the latter argument. As to the former, it should be noted that shortly after the UN voted to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, in 1947, Ben-Gurion convinced a reluctant Israeli Labor Party Executive Committee to accept the plan, which most of the Palestinian leadership and all of the surrounding Arab states rejected. In support of his positions, Finkelstein sometimes cites himself, sometimes such extreme critics of Israeli policies as Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn, and almost never a meticulous scholar at home in both Hebrew and Arabic sources, such as Benny Morris. This work may interest those who are already convinced that Israel is a kind of neocolonialist state. Those who want to gain a more balanced and substantial view of the roots of the current conflict and its implications for the future would do well to look elsewhere.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 1996


Page Count: 192

Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1996

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