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The Palestine-Israeli Conflict: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) Paperback – 1 Jul 2003


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications; 2Rev Ed edition (1 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851683321
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851683321
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2 x 20.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,478,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Amazon Review

Of all the intractable and inflammatory world conflicts, those of the Middle East must rank fairly high. Cohn-Sherbok and El-Alami's Palestine-Israeli Conflict: a Beginner's Guide must be equally highly ranked as one of the best introductory guides to the issue. Author of a number of key titles on Judaism and Jewish issues, Dan Cohn-Sherbok uses the first half of the Beginner's Guide to give an overview, from his perspective, of the modern history of Israel/Palestine. Immediately the reader, through the unique dialogic format of this excellent title, is reminded that all history is a matter of perspective, not least in the Middle East when the name of the very country under discussion cannot be agreed upon. Cohn-Sherbok is a clear, unfussy writer. He explains the growth of Zionism through the late 19th century until its "victory" in the creation of a Jewish National Home called Israel in 1947 and then details the wars that have dogged the Jewish state since its inception.

Dawoud El-Alami then takes over and reviews the same period as his colleague but from the perspective of a Palestinian. From the legally questionable British Balfour Declaration of 1917 up until the first Intifada (1984-1992) and 1993's Oslo Peace Accords (so forcefully critiqued by Edward Said in his recent book The End of the Peace Process) and beyond. El-Alami describes the Palestinian struggles with the first Jewish settlers and then the State of Israel herself, the creation of the PLO and the troubled relationship with the rest of the Arab world.

The book ends with further debate between the two writers in response to each other's contributions. It would be idealistic to expect all the answers from such a book and the two writers certainly do not end the book on some forced, unrealistic meeting of minds. But the intrigued reader will learn from both sides and the publishers are to be congratulated for presenting such a difficult topic in such an eminently useful format.--Mark Thwaite --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

'This publication offers a rare insight into the Palestine-Israeli dilemma while outlining political, religious, historical and emotional issues in the struggle for peace.' --Library Journal.

'A very interesting opportunity for the reader to appreciate both sides of a comples issue. A must for anybody interested in understanding the conflict in the Middle East.' --George Joffé, Centre of International Studies, Cambridge University.

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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Jun. 2001
Format: Paperback
As opposed to most studies of contemporary international problems, this book offers a genuinely two-sided argument; Rabbi Cohn-Sherbok and Dr El-ALami are not merely academics exploring a particular issue, they are passionately involved in their subject, and if nothing else, the concluding debate illustrates that the current crisis in the Middle East is unlikely to be settled in the near, or even the distant, future.
Written as a "beginner's guide" the book is nonetheless worth reading for scholars, students, and laypeople and anyone else with an interest in trying to understand why there is constant coverage from the Middle East on news broadcasts.
With a view of making the reader make his or her own mind up about the arguments, the authors explore a number of historical events that have led to the present situation from their own particular viewpoint. The investigations are clear and well-structured and whilst the book is easily read during a day, it is nonetheless a book to come back to again and again for reference.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bob from Beds on 15 April 2010
Format: Paperback
I looked forward to reading this book as it is described as a "beginners' guide" (what I need) and has the format of an Israeli view, an Palestinian view, and a short debate.

I found it a bit disappointing, maybe I was expecting too much.

Both authors start their accounts in the mid 19th century (no mention of anything before this apart from a brief mention of 137 AD right at the end). The "facts" of the last 150 years are more or less agreed by the two authors, the interpretation not at all. The Israeli version is stuffed with dates, attacks, reprisals, meetings on an almost day by day basis: it is sometimes difficult to see the wood for the trees. The Palestinian version perhaps gives a better overview.

Both authors agree that the total population of Palestine was about 600,000 in the 19th century so this was not an empty country by any means.

The role of the British is far from honorable, but to be fair they probably drew the short straw by inheriting responsibility at the end of the Ottoman empire.

The short debate shows little common ground and no grounds for optimism.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mehmet Agop Bakkaloglu on 23 Jan. 2013
Format: Paperback
I like the idea of the book. We first listen to pro-Israel Cohn-Sherbok and then to pro-Palestine El-Alami. The pro-Israel part of the book explains the history as you can find it anywhere on the Internet -- hence made me think the book was rather dull. The pro-Palestine part, however, captured me because it also explains the shortcomings of Palestinians. Plus it gives useful pieces of information such as why Turks were initially not sympathetic to Palestinians.

In the third part of the book, the debate, the pro-Israel guy tries way too hard to justify the moral right for Israel to exist by referring to anti-Jewish history in Europe, such as the Holocaust. To point out anti-Israeli sentiment he quotes from Bin Ladin. He suggests that a new Palestine should be created by carving out land from neighbouring countries -- for goodness' sake which planet does Cohn-Sherbok live on?

In his part of the debate, El-Alami in an academic way tells Cohn-Sherbok that he is being ridiculous.

Overall, the book was worth reading for El-Alami's sensible views.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
Being someone who's never understood the reasons for the conflict but seen it on the news nearly every day i thought this book would give a good background to the conflict. But don't be misled there's 200 pages full of facts, names , dates, numbers on casulties, costs and much more which can be become over bearing and it's easy to lost your place. There's two maps provided which miss half the places in the text. On the good side the information presented is pretty concise and i've learnt a great deal of the history of the region. Might try to find or write myself a Dummies guide to palestine - israeli conflict.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 1 Oct. 2002
Format: Paperback
I had high hopes for this book but the book was in many ways a disappointment. The book is well laid out and the idea is good.
The idea of the book is to present a history and analysis of the Israel/Palestine problem from the perspective of a Palestinian and an Israeli. Afterwards there is a discussion between the two on the points raised. An academic is lined up for each side. It sounds like a good idea but it fails in the execution.
Firstly what this results in is two people giving the same history from admittedly different viewpoints but the same history still. Secondly the Israeli writer is nowhere near as successful in presenting the material well. This side comes out clear but rather dry. Feeling more like a list of pertinent points in history. The Palestinian side is more interesting read here. I am really not taking sides here and commenting on the writing style. The mayor failing though is that the end discussion is only 16 pages long in which each writer barely gets warmed up before the book ends.
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