A HISTORY OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT by Mark Tessler

A HISTORY OF THE ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A dense, well-annotated portrait of Jewish and Arab histories, national aspirations, and conflicts, focusing on the origins of modern Zionism and Arab nationalism with a view to the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Political scientist Tessler (Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinians, not reviewed) here determines to present an objective depiction of Jewish and Arab histories, in tandem, in an attempt to show the parallel conceptions of religion, history, and destiny that inform both peoples' present-day lives. The conflict is presented with the necessary foundation that makes it possible to separate fact from propaganda (for instance, he asserts convincingly that less than a century ago Arabs and Jews did not conceive of one another as enemies). Tessler shows a striking symmetry in the general flow of Jewish and Arab history, and in the way nationalist movements within each community took shape. Both Arabs and Jews once enjoyed an age of high accomplishment, followed by long centuries of decline. Both peoples established in the modern era political communities that they believed to be an expression of God's will. By the end of the 19th century, both Jews and Arabs believed that the nations of Europe posed more than an intellectual and cultural challenge. Jews were physically threatened by anti-Semitism. Arabs, under the domination of European colonialism, were confronted by imperialistic ideologies based on cultural contempt and racism. To combat these, both began espousing nationalism, calling for political arrangements that would help each people to organize and manage its own affairs without interference. At this point, the modern conflict, depicted in great detail in these pages, actually begins. An extensive scholarly presentation of a difficult modern conflict in which the road to peace has been all too frequently obscured.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
Page count: 928pp
Publisher: Indiana Univ. Press