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State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State Hardcover – 26 Nov 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan (26 Nov. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1137278242
  • ISBN-13: 978-1137278241
  • Product Dimensions: 16.4 x 2.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 905,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'In State of Failure, Jonathan Schanzer, an academic specialising in the issue of Palestine, provides a burst of bracing realism...he outlines proposals for reforms that are indispensable if the Palestinians are ever to have a state. Even in a hard-headed analyst, then, hope triumphs over experience' - Standpoint "An essential read for any policy-maker and observer who wants a clear picture of the problems within Palestinian society today" - Jerusalem Post

Book Description

A provocative look at the past, present, and future of Palestine, arguing that the biggest obstacle to Palestinian statehood isn't Israel, but its own corrupt leadership

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Judie Amsel on 13 May 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
If the news media and world governments and organizations had been doing their jobs correctly, one of two things would have happened: The information revealed in STATE OF FAILURE would not be unknown to most people and/or the problems might not have reached the state they did. In either case, the lives of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza would much better and there may have been an independent, viable Palestinian state decades ago.
Instead, the media, governments, and organizations, particularly the United Nations, for several self-serving, short-sighted reasons, ignored what was really going on with the Palestinian leaders and focus their attention on blaming Israel for most problems and propping up Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas instead of demanding that they actually demonstrate responsibility.
The chapters in STATE OF FAILURE are rather short for such an important topic. However, Jonathan Schanzer packs a lot of information into them. The thoroughly-referenced data provides a very concise history of why there is yet to be a Palestinian state even though it was supposed to be founded at the same time Israel was born.
He puts most of the blame on the Palestinian leaders, primarily Yasser Arafat, for being more focused on remaining in control and increasing their own net worth. By the time there was any demand for fiscal oversight, competently attempted by Salam Fayyad, billions of dollars had disappeared, mostly diverted by Arafat and his cronies.
Mahmoud Abbas who succeeded Arafat was thought to be the man to put things in order. Instead, he has turned into another dictator, enriching himself at the expense of his people.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 8 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Required reading for Secretary of State Kerry The story of why the Palestinian Arabs are not ready for a state of their own 29 Dec. 2013
By Shalom Freedman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
This book tells the story of the Palestinian Arab's failed leadership and governance. It examines the present day leadership of Mohammed Abbas who has proven corrupt in his way as Yassar Arafat was in his. It tells how the world media, and even the scholarship on the Middle East has failed to properly cover the story of Palestinian politics. It focuses on the PLO and Fatah and not on Hamas'ruled Gaza. It is not without its criticism of Israel for the Palestinian failure but does shift the focus of responsibility to the Palestinians themselves. It shows how the failure of governance has meant that a society and people which has had more attention, and support from the world community than perhaps any other still is unable to get its own house- in- order. And it argues without that happening without there being an honest and responsible Palestinian leadership and citizenry no real Peace Process is possible.
I would recommend this book very highly to anyone who wishes to have a real insight as to what is going on within the Palestinian Arab political world.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Follow the Money 5 Dec. 2013
By Man of La Book - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
State of Fail­ure: Yasser Arafat, Mah­moud Abbas, and the Unmak­ing of the Pales­tin­ian State by Jonathan Schanzer is a non-fiction book which exam­ines if the Pales­tin­ian peo­ple have cre­ated the infra­struc­ture for an inde­pen­dent state. Mr. Shanzer is cur­rently a vice pres­i­dent of research for the Foun­da­tion for Defense of Democ­ra­cies and served as a coun­tert­er­ror­ism ana­lyst at the U.S. Depart­ment of the Treasury.

The book asks some very impor­tant ques­tions and comes to some remark­able con­clu­sions. The book comes on the heels of the UN deci­sion to grant Pales­tine a “non-member observer state” status.

The tagline of the book could sim­ply be “fol­low the money”, as is true in all pol­i­tics and is espe­cially true in the small state. The author also claims that the West­ern world only encour­ages cor­rup­tion and dys­func­tion by giv­ing money to the Pales­tin­ian on the con­di­tions of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the peace process & curb­ing vio­lence while not con­sid­er­ing con­di­tions for a solid gov­ern­ment and respon­si­ble eco­nomic infrastructure.

The author pro­vides a good his­tor­i­cal back­ground of the Pales­tin­ian Author­ity (PA) and pro­vides exam­ples of how the lead­er­ship failed its peo­ple by not devel­op­ing a polit­i­cal cul­ture and infra­struc­ture that could sup­port startup state. While Mr. Schanzer does not absolve Israel of blame, he lays most of it at the feet of the United States and Europe who are, accord­ing to the nar­ra­tive, major con­trib­u­tors to the failure.

The author counts numer­ous rea­sons for the fail­ure, first and fore­most is at the roots of the PA; a gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion which, in its core, was based on cor­rup­tion, secrecy, decep­tion and vio­lence. The PA was also cen­tral­ized around one man, Yasser Arafat, who kept his min­is­ters on a short leash and gave out impor­tant posi­tions based on alliances, fam­ily and force. Arafat was account­able to no-one and rivers of money flew through his pock­ets with­out any oversight.

While the top lead­ers of the PA have been enriched beyond their dreams, the com­mon man on the street did not see how peace or state­hood was ben­e­fit­ing them. That’s when Salam Fayyad came into the pic­ture. Mr. Fayyad, finance min­is­ter and prime min­is­ter, tried sin­cerely for many years to find assets, account for miss­ing money and bring up the PA to global account­ing stan­dards. It is to Mr. Fayyad great credit that many donors and states were reas­sured by his per­sonal integrity to con­tinue and con­tribute to the Pales­tin­ian cause.

How­ever, as many hon­est peo­ple who are up against a cor­rupt sys­tem find out, Mr. Fayyad’s efforts were defeated by the giant wheel of gov­ern­men­tal corruption.

The last few pages of the book are rec­om­men­da­tion the author offers to the Pales­tin­ian gov­ern­ment. Many of the rec­om­men­da­tions are obvi­ous (ter­ror­ists are not admin­is­tra­tors, develop the local econ­omy to replace for­eign aid, free press, inde­pen­dent judi­ciary, right to protest, etc.) none of these exist at the time of publication.

The author ends on a somber note, until Pales­tine gets its act together with a func­tion­ing gov­ern­ment and a work­ing econ­omy will they be able to stand up on their own. Mr. Schanzer makes those points, and more, clear in a well researched, easy to read narrative.

Dis­claimer: I got this book for free
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Dangers of not following the money 14 Dec. 2013
By Judie Amsel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
If the news media and world governments and organizations had been doing their jobs correctly, one of two things would have happened: The information revealed in STATE OF FAILURE would not be unknown to most people and/or the problems might not have reached the state they did. In either case, the lives of the Palestinian people in the West Bank and Gaza would much better and there may have been an independent, viable Palestinian state decades ago.
Instead, the media, governments, and organizations, particularly the United Nations, for several self-serving, short-sighted reasons, ignored what was really going on with the Palestinian leaders and focus their attention on blaming Israel for most problems and propping up Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas instead of demanding that they actually demonstrate responsibility.
The chapters in STATE OF FAILURE are rather short for such an important topic. However, Jonathan Schanzer packs a lot of information into them. The thoroughly-referenced data provides a very concise history of why there is yet to be a Palestinian state even though it was supposed to be founded at the same time Israel was born.
He puts most of the blame on the Palestinian leaders, primarily Yasser Arafat, for being more focused on remaining in control and increasing their own net worth. By the time there was any demand for fiscal oversight, competently attempted by Salam Fayyad, billions of dollars had disappeared, mostly diverted by Arafat and his cronies.
Mahmoud Abbas who succeeded Arafat was thought to be the man to put things in order. Instead, he has turned into another dictator, enriching himself at the expense of his people.
Schanzer briefly examines the histories of the PLO (created in 1964), Palestinian Authority (1994), Fatah (1950s in Kuwait), Hamas (1987) and their key personnel as well as discussing US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians since Woodrow Wilson’s administration. He writes about Palestinian rivalries and how the pressure to stay in charge affected their decisions including being able to sign a peace treaty with Israel. He explains why the Palestinian people elected Hamas, their feelings towards their government, and why there are currently two separate groups, Gaza and the West Bank. He writes about Palestinian and Arab involvement with the Nazis in World War II as well as Israel’s history and what it did or didn’t do (including the reasons) to contribute to many of the problems.

But the major problem was the lack of interest, at best, of the media and world leaders to look beyond the Israel/Palestine situation. In fact, most of the major problems had very little, if anything, to do with that. They should have realized that different skills are needed for building a viable nation than for leading a revolt.
They should have demanded transparency, meeting objectives for building a state, and good governance before throwing more money at the Palestinian leaders. They also should have demanded that high expectations should be met. “Too often the West is guilty of what US president George W. Bush termed ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations.’” They should have reported on intragroup conflicts and following the money instead of on Israel/Palestine issues.
He said Israel’s unilateral move passing Gaza to the Palestinians was a “strategic mistake.” It allowed Hamas to produce and receive weapons without Israeli interference and claim that “violence works.”
He writes of the negative effects of unilateralism as Palestinians turned to the UN for recognition of statehood without having to actually show they could govern a state. He discusses the persecution of journalists, news media, and individuals who criticize the government.
STATE OF FAILURE ends by listing fourteen points necessary to enable the Palestinians to achieve a functional state capable of serving the needs of the people. It ends by stating
The good news is that the Palestinian leadership can still make these changes and right the ship. But this will not happen in a vacuum. World leaders must begin to make their demands heard. The United States and Europe will need to lead the charge. And when they do, they should make it clear that these demands are not punishment for past transgressions. Rather, they are heightened expectations that can help the Palestinians actualize their dream.

STATE OF FAILURE is well-written, well-organized and easy to comprehend. I hope people pay attention to the message so that the Palestinians can live a peaceful, productive life in an independent, viable state next to its Jewish neighbor, Israel. It’s tragic that it has taken so long for this message to get out. It can be corrected starting now but only if the media, world governments, and world organizations step in to demand, guide, and support genuine, honest improvement.

I received a copy of this book from Goodreads Early Readers.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
New or old leaders, no change 5 Dec. 2013
By Elliot B. Halberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The Palestinian Authority wasted and misspent nearly $2.7 billion in European aid between 2008 and 2012. Jonathan Schanzer State Of failure provides us with a detailed history of the Palestinian Authority that clearly shows how its leaders have failed their people by choosing not to develop the infrastructure and political culture that could support an independent state. Top PLO leaders have been politically and financially enriched while the average Palestinian got nothing. Salam Fayyad, who served as finance minister and later as prime minister, tried feverishly for years to find and account for Arafat’s assets, to set up a national PA treasury, and to bring PA finances up to accounting standards but was stopped by those at the highest levels of authority within the PA. As long as the western allies including U.S. and European Union continue to send billions in aid to the PA while not choosing to hold the Palestinians accountable for state-building, for ending ignorance and terrorism, and for responsible financial practices, the Palestinians will be left either stateless or with a totally inept and failed state.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A revealing look at history in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict......... 21 Jan. 2014
By David S. Most - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A fine piece of work that clarifies all the history behind the rise of Abbas to power. He clings to it with high risks facing him. Arafat's contributions to civilization, e.g., the art of airline hijacking and murder of women and children civilians, are also laid out in clear, readable language.
Any one interested at all in the Middle East can only gain from the story as told by Schanzer. If our President would add this to his reading list perhaps he would come away with a more clear vision of reality in the ME. Sec. of State Kerry would also benefit to learn the true nature of those with whom he plays negotiation poker.
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