16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2001
An excellent book dealing with the changes in the physical and human landscapes of Israel/Palestine in the last half century or so. The main subject of the book is the destruction and concealment of the Arab rural civilization and culture in the part of Palestine that became Israel after 1948, and the author, a well known Israeli Jew columnist for the newspaper Haaretz, and former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, does it in a magistral way. Although some of the chapters deal with matters easily acessible in other works about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian refugees, others, such as "The Hebrew Map", "White Patches", "The Signposts of Memory", and "Saints, Peasents, and Conquerors" offer a new light and a fresh perspective on these subjects, and the author's honesty and extremely harsh criticism of Israel government policies and deeds concerning the native inhabitants of the land, is a very rare and commendable thing indeed, coming, as it does, from someone on the winning side of this ongoing conflict. If only a sizeable portion of Israeli Jews would reconize the truthfulness of the analyses in this book and support Benvenisti's suggestions in the Epilogue, this century old conflict could well start to slowly erode itself away. Being things as they are, the book at least serves to make us understand a little better the primary cause of the dispute: the almost unbelievable and utterly revolting ways the native Arab inhabitants, who constituted the large majority of the population in 1948, have been (and continue to be) treated by a long line of Zionist and Israeli actions bent on "cleaning" the land's geographies of their former Arab character. Without question, this courageous book deserves the widest possible readership.