With events moving so fast in the Middle East, this book is already outdated with regard to its possible scenarios for the future and the hopes based on the Geneva Accords of 2003. Even the Postscript to this paperback edition is a bit irrelevant now that both the election victory of Hamas and the Iranian nuclear threat have entered the arena. It does, however, provide a thorough history of the conflict up to the year in question.
The narrative starts with the failed Camp David talks of year 2000 but throughout, it deals extensively with the history of Israel from the 19th century onwards, including the British Mandate, the Holocaust and the 2nd World War. The birth of Israel, the Palestinian refugee exodus and the role of the UN are also examined in detail.
Chapter 3 looks at international relations, how Israel's alignment with the West came about, and its relations with its neighbours. The next chapter: The Second Republic, discusses Israel in the 1960s, including cultural change, the 1967 war and its aftermath, the Yom Kippur war and Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Chapter 5 goes into great detail about developments in Israeli politics in the 1980s, a decade that encompassed the National Unity Government and the Lebanon war, whilst chapter 6 investigates the 1990s. This includes sections on the arrival of the immigrants from the then imploding Soviet Union, the nature of the Israeli economy and a discussion of secular versus religious rights.
The next chapter analyses the failed Oslo peace process. The passage titled The Culture Of Language And The Meaning Of War is of special interest. It explains the seemingly separate conflicts being waged in Hebrew, in Arabic and in English, examining the media coverage in Israel, the West and the Arab World. In this regard, I refer the interested reader to an excellent book, The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy, by Stephanie Gutmann.
The Postscript addresses the Geneva Accords of December 2003, in which the author placed high hopes. The book concludes with notes arranged by chapter, a glossary of terms, an extensive bibliography, a section on websites and an index.
The map section from pp. 128 to 138 is very valuable for understanding the land issue. These maps include the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, the 1922 Partition, the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Jerusalem since 1967 and the Oslo Redeployment Map.
Books that may contribute to an understanding of the Middle East situation include the aforementioned title by Gutmann, The Case For Israel by Alan Dershovitz, The Mountains of Israel by Norma Archbold Parrish, Dream Palace Of The Arabs by Fouad Ajami and From Time Immemorial by Joan Peters.