Monday, October 15, 2007

Almost Balanced Book Review

BT sent me this review of the polemic of Akiva Eldar and Idit Zartal penned by Adam LeBor, "LORDS OF THE LAND" in which he writes:

This may be an angry, embittered book, but the two authors are well-informed experts. Zertal is a noted Israeli historian, who now teaches at the University of Basel, and Eldar is an influential columnist for the left-wing daily, Ha’aretz. [and they are ideolgocially opposed to the book's subject with no objectivity]

“Lords of the Land” is richly detailed. Nonetheless, it would have benefited from wider context and discussion. There is a case for the defense, not made here. Are the settlements an inevitable consequence of Zionism, for example, or an aberration, spawned by the specific circumstances of 1967? Or something of both? Israel then was a long way from being today’s military powerhouse. It fought a war for survival in which victory was not assured: mass graves were prepared in public parks; hotels were turned into first-aid stations. Post-1967 triumphalism may have had tragic consequences, but it was probably also inevitable. Any state surrounded by enemies will seek strategic depth.

It is also curious, especially considering the authors’ leftist perspective, that the Palestinians barely feature in their book, other than as passive victims of rapacious Zionist settlers and expansionist Israeli governments. The Palestinians have been greatly wronged, but they have also had choices available to them and too often chose badly. Land grab aside, the security fence was built after a spate of barbarous suicide bombings and continues to prevent further attacks. When Yassir Arafat rejected Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000 he turned down what was probably the best chance of meaningful statehood.

Indeed, the entire history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of missed opportunities...

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