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A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem With Israel [Hardcover]

Robin Shepherd
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Sep 2009
The Jewish state of Israel has now acquired the status of a pariah across much of the West and especially in Europe. For many, it has become the contemporary equivalent of apartheid South Africa - a system and a state with no legitimate place in the modern world. Israel's conflict with the Palestinians and the wider Muslim world also takes place across one of the great fault lines in global politics. No-one with a serious interest in international affairs can ignore it. But why have so many people and institutions of influence in Europe chosen to place themselves on the side of that fault line which opposes Israel? Where exactly does all this hostility come from? Can this really be put down to a revival of anti-Semitism on a continent which gave the world the Holocaust? 'A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel' looks at the roots of anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe and shows why there is now a risk that it may even spread to the United States. In the author's view, the Israel-Palestine conflict can be seen as a test case for the West's ability to stand up for the values it claims as its own. In Europe, important institutions and individuals are now failing that test. This book explains why.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: W&N; 1st Edition edition (10 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297856642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297856641
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 13.8 x 21.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 603,426 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Robin Shepherd...explains that Europe's pacifism is not, despite what it likes to believe, a symptom of maturity, but of tiredness, nihilism and suicide. Europeans no longer believe in Europe, they are not prepared to fight for it, and they are unwilling to believe that its enemies are willing to destroy it. So had the Nazis not faced the golden generation but instead the bed-wetter generation, how would history have spanned out?" (TELEGRAPH.CO.UK - 7.09.09)

"Shepherd's well-documented, elegantly written and powerfully argued book is a must-read for anyone interested in this subject" (STANDPOINT - 1.10.09)

"very readable, uncompromising and heartfelt book...he should be praised for going against the grain of elite opinion in providing a small antidote to the arsenic that all too often passes for legitimate debate on Israel in today's Europe." (Rory Miller is Professor at King's College, London SUNDAY BUSINESS POST 27.09.09)

"meticulously documented, cogently argued, and brilliantly illuminated book.... This is the best book on the Middle East conflict to appear in years, albeit one deeply disquieting for friends of Israel. It should be compulsory reading for all professing interest or expertise on the subject." (David Conway, senior research fellow at Civitas THE JEWISH CHRONICLE 06.09.09)

"a chilling but outstanding analysis of why Europe has turned against Israel, which I commend as essential reading for anyone engaged in Jewish advocacy" (JERUSALEM POST)

"The aim of this book is to trace the roots of the rising hostility to Israel within Europe... The book's central questions are where does all this anti-Israel bias stem from and is it really justified?" (GOOD BOOK GUIDE 01.10.09)

Book Description

An informative and provocative study of the roots of anti-Israeli sentiment in Europe. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
68 of 83 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fresh perspectives 11 Sep 2009
By Sackeus
I was recommended this book, after being tired of the old debates on the middle east, and was impressed by the fresh thinking on the subject. Shepherd is pro-Israel, but he weighs up his points and the counter arguments judiciously. He sees the strained and complex relationship between europeans and Israel in civilisational terms, and sees in the former a general unwillingness to stand up for basic democratic values and freedoms. This issue is for him rooted in a left-wing ambivelance towards the west in general and as such is more a judgement on Europe than on Israel. He makes valuable points that have been lost in the mudslinging, especially on the question of when antizionism becomes antisemitism, arguing that defaming an entire nation, regardless of whether this conforms to traditional concepts of antisemitism, is in itself wholly unacceptable. In sum, this is worth a read whatever you view, because it seems to be written with a genuine effort to understand themes and trends, and that's a rare feat indeed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars captain mission 23 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
outstanding and brave defence of the most hated country on earth, facts replace emotions and sensationalism, truth exposes propaganda. this book should be compulsory reading for any one with an opinion on the conflict. the antidote to ignorance.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Defence Beyond the Pale 31 Dec 2009
In 'A State Beyond the Pale' one of the top opinion formers within the British establishment has written a devastating critique of arguments and accusations levelled at Israel in the battleground of public opinion.

Sheppard is an immensely creative writer, never once needing to 'cry wolf' and settle for the label 'antisemite' as defence. He looks at a broad range of arguments from journalists, writers and politicians when discussing Israel, and builds his case very convincingly for what is fair, and unfair criticism of Israel. He steers clear of so much of the 'political speak' when encountering this subject, he simply analyses in simple language and provides excellent comparisons for anti-Israel arguments; this makes his arguments all the more powerful and thought-provoking.

This is not so much a book about Israel then, more the reactions to it.

Quite interestingly, and probably quite indicative of the arguments relating to Israel, is the preface and introduction, both of which are 51 pages long (out of a 310 page book). However, this by no means reading 51 pages before getting to the heart of the matter. From the first page Shepherd wastes no time in getting down to business saying 'Arguments relating to this subject very quickly become personal; arguments should be judged on their own merits, not on who's making them.' And in this way the book continues. I had quite forgotten what part of the book I was reading before turning the page and seeing "Chapter 1". It's fair to say this is an engrossing read!
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71 of 91 people found the following review helpful
No-one who takes even the slightest interest in the world around them can have failed to notice the poisonous nature of some - on occasion, much - of the discourse about Israel from people whom the spin doctors call `opinion leaders'. Here are just two examples (both of which are too recent to be mentioned by Robin Shepherd). In August a number of public figures criticised the award by Barack Obama of the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mary Robinson, the former Irish President, because she had presided over the UN's Durban Conference against Racism in 2001 which gave a platform to some profoundly antisemitic comments by some NGOs. Robinson's response was not to defend her record but to bizarrely accuse her critics of `bullying': "There's a lot of bullying by certain elements of the Jewish community." Ben Bradshaw - then a UK Health Minister - said much the same thing in January "Israel has a long reputation of bullying the BBC... The BBC has been cowed by this persistent and relentless pressure, and they should stand up to it." He was rewarded by Gordon Brown with promotion to the Cabinet, as the Culture Minister.

Both these statements are patently ridiculous and defamatory. The word `bullying' implies the successful use of force upon a weaker person to achieve an unjustified result. What `force' is it that `elements of the Jewish Community' used on Mary Robinson (and on Desmond Tutu who she also mentioned)? And did Israel surround Broadcasting House with tanks?
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24 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly incisive and invaluable analysis 9 Nov 2009
This superbly argued book explains the current hostility to Israel amongst European opinion-formers in the media, academia, trade unions and beyond. In the seventies and eighties such hostility was only found in the Arab and Muslim world, on the far left and the racist far right. However over the last couple of decades it's permeated the mainstream liberal-left. The reporting and comment in the Guardian and Independent and on the BBC and Channel 4 are well-known examples. For different reasons, the old brigade of the right share this antipathy and they hold a traditional presence in the Foreign Office and diplomatic service.

The horrors of World War Two led Europeans to prefer non-military solutions to disputes, which means they can be slow to recognise and confront genuine belligerence. This happened in the 1990s when the EU responded so feebly to Serbian atrocities in the Balkans. There's also a tendency to rationalise militancy and terror as the last resort of the poor and oppressed rather than seeing it as the product of fundamentalist ideology. Shepherd holds that many continental Europeans are now unwilling to make sacrifices to defend Western values.

Criticism and hostility can tell you more about the mindsets of those issuing them than about the object of their tirades. Shepherd explores the crude demonisation and anti-intellectual character of much anti-Israel hostility. He traces it to `civilisational pathologies' with multiple historical and ideological roots. The most significant ideological stream came from the radical left, which was strong and active in European universities in the two decades following the 1967 war. Many of today's opinion-formers were starting to form their own opinions in that environment.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Utterly misleading - this is a consciously pro-Israel piece
I bought this book with the hope and expectation that it would be something different from the partisan pieces so often published about Israel/Palestine, but from the outset, it... Read more
Published 7 months ago by The man who never was
3.0 out of 5 stars Bitter Herbs
The title of the book is of course a play on words, the Pale being that area of (western) Imperial Russia (now largely in what is now Belorus) where Jews before 1917 were, at least... Read more
Published on 4 Jan 2011 by Ian Millard
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read to understand the truth about the Middle East Conflict
This extremely well written and researched book should be the bible for anyone who wants to understand the Israel/Palestinian conflict and to base their judgement on truth rather... Read more
Published on 13 Oct 2010 by JoyWol
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but unconvincing.
There's no doubt Shepherd's book is a good read, and for that alone I recommend it, however it's obvious from the introduction that he has little, if any, interest in the... Read more
Published on 4 Jan 2010 by D. Stevenson
5.0 out of 5 stars In every generation they rise against Israel
The relentless torrent of anti-Israel propaganda turned out by leftist and liberal European media during the past two decades is finally bearing loads of toxic fruit. Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2009 by Pieter Uys
5.0 out of 5 stars Devastating
This book analyses why there is such a dislike of Israel among European commentators and other influential people. The critique is highly readable and original. Read more
Published on 10 Sep 2009 by Christopher
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