The Oxford University Press is responsible for printing this book. I would have hoped that the book would therefore be reasonably scholarly, and that it would contain valuable information for students who might be interested in this topic. However, when I saw the list of contributors, I no longer had much hope for this work.
I can't imagine trusting Eugene Rogan on the topic of Israel. And sure enough, he discusses the Arab failure to "save" the Levant from the "Zionist threat" as a sort of tragedy that has continued "to plague international relations of the region down to the present." Would it really have been better for the region to have robbed, expelled, banned, or slaughtered all the Jews there? I doubt it.
Charles Smith, the author of a very misleading book about the Arab-Israeli conflict, is not much better. He gives the impression that Israel, in 1967, attacked Arabs who were in the process of trying to avoid a war, claiming that Israel had information from the United States that the Arabs were not planning to attack. However, Israel actually did not go to war until the United States made it clear that it was not about to reopen the Straits of Tiran. If the United States in fact had information that the Arabs did not want a war, it would have told the Arabs how to avoid one (all the more so had it shared this information with Israel).
Avi Shlaim, another person I would never trust on the topic of Israel, makes hash of the history of the Camp David talks and the ensuing Arab aggression against Israel. And then we have the rabidly anti-Zionist Michael C. Hudson discuss the United States in the Middle East! Hudson does not like anything the United States has been up to there, and he blames it on the "neo-conservatives." Now, we would normally expect some discussion of what issues might have caused the neo-conservatives to worry about the Middle East in the first place, as well as what arguments they seem to have used to convince others. But Hudson treats the neo-conservatives as an unreasonable group of passionately pro-Israeli hawks. I think this is something like blaming American opposition to Germany in 1938 on an unreasonable group of passionately pro-Czechoslovakian hawks.
Rosemary Hollis has a chapter on Europe in the Middle East. And she even admits that the British "fell foul of the Zionist movement by attempting to limit the inflow of Jewish migrants" to the Levant. And she then says that "British attempts to block the entry" to the Levant "of Jews fleeing systematic extermination" were "indefensible." Well, um, these were more than mere "attempts." Much more. There was a White Paper in 1939. It was enforced. There were land restrictions too. And the Jewish reaction to that White Paper was realize that protection of Jewish rights in the Levant required the creation of a Jewish state. That's why Israel exists.
Hollis continues by explaining that the European community has "kept to the basic principle of implementing UN resolutions." And that "by contrast, the United States has been less faithful to the letter of international law." That's not true. Europe has been calling Jewish (but not Arab) settlements in the West Bank "illegal," even though international law has not deemed them as such. International law may be about to do so now, but that does not make Hollis correct.
This entire book is very misleading. It does our society a big disservice. After all, we human beings are trying to do useful things on this planet. And one thing we might want to do is come up with strategies to improve human happiness in the Middle East. If we all get taught that various problems involving Arab aggression have never existed, or are merely the result of serious provocations, it will be that much more difficult for us to improve the state of affairs in the region.