Noted historian Shlaim (International Relations/Univ. of Oxford; Lion of Jordan: The Life of King Hussein in War and Peace, 2008, etc.) presents a collection of hard-hitting pieces about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In 1988, the author published a “revisionist” reappraisal of the official Zionist version of events upon the 40th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. Here Shlaim offers a significant, readable sampling of his astute essays on the subject. He establishes his position clearly by revisiting the watersheds of Israeli history. He believes that after the horrors visited upon the Jewish people in the Holocaust, “the moral case for a Jewish state became unassailable,” but that the only legitimate borders of the state were established upon its armistice agreements made with its various Arab neighbors in 1949. Thus, when Israel began to acquire territory after the 1967 Six-Day War and build civilian settlements, “in blatant contravention of the 4th Geneva Convention,” it essentially became a dreaded “colonial power.” Shlaim vigorously reexamines this so-called policy of “creating facts on the ground” and the subsequent eruption of violence in the refugee-saturated Gaza Strip. He reconsiders the question of whether the Palestinian exodus of 1948 was a “pre-planned and ruthlessly executed Zionist policy of expulsion”; how the Palestine government in Gaza was derailed by inter-Arab rivalries; Syrian Colonel Husni Zaim’s offer to resettle Palestinian refugees in Syria; the successes and failures of the Mossad; the U.S.’s “passionate attachment” to Israel; the hopes of the Madrid Conference and Oslo Accord; and the more recent breakdown of the peace process. The author also provides discrete essays on the legacies of Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon, Edward Said and an excellent interview with “His Royal Shyness,” King Hussein.
Shlaim is an important, sage, reasoned voice on the course of Israeli-Palestinian relations.