73 of 122 people found the following review helpful
a good insight into the Israeli worldview,
This review is from: The Case for Israel (History) (Paperback)
It's fairly easy to get a hopelessly biased, blatantly pro Palestinian book that has little basis in fact. It's a little bit more difficult to get what this book is, namely a hopelessly biased, blatantly pro Israeli book that has little basis in fact. It intentionally misrepresents the other side's arguments, making them very easy to refute, and also often makes sure to focus on particular details while making sure to leave out the context. For example, much is made of the Palestinian / Arab support of Germany during WW2, as evidence that the Jewish people were at risk of extermination in the Middle East (therefore justifying all that happened afterwards). Even a schoolchild could figure out that Arab support for Germany at the time had much more to do with getting the British and French out of the region than any purported hatred for the Jews.
As an international lawyer myself, I must also say that the author's twisting of international law is pretty astounding; the Balfour Declaration as binding international law? That's a new one. And even a non lawyer will have little difficulty seeing through the author's argument about the Israeli use of torture. Until the supreme court decision that the author makes so much out of, Israel was the only country in the world that practised legal torture. Yes, things are much better now since the supreme court decision (though torture is still pretty routine in Occupied Palestine), and certainly things are better than they are in other Middle Eastern countries. But that Israel's neighbours have a worse record does not in any way justify what Israel does.
Still, this book is worth skimming through, just because it will give you an insight into the Israeli viewpoint. Most of us in the West have the impression of Israel as being a "normal", secular country; "the only democracy in the Middle East". There is of course some truth to that (certainly Israel is much more democratic than its neighbours), but if you live here you will soon realise that even the most secular Israelis tend to be obsessed with the idea that the entire world is ganging up against their country and their people, and that this has always has been the case. This siege mentality (I would dare call it a victim mentality) is drummed into the Israeli psyche from a very early age, and it is through this lens that they see all that happens in the international stage. This book is a very good example of how reality is twisted beyond recognition, to fit this worldview.
It's scary, yes, but that is how things are, and it has to be dealt with if there is ever going to be peace in the Middle East. The fact of the matter is that neither side has a monopoly on the truth in this conflict, and as the author to this book says (in probably one of the only passages I agree with), we have to get beyond "who did what to whom" if we are ever going to progress.
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Initial post: 11 Jun 2009 11:15:28 BDT
Alan Doran says:
How refreshing to read reviews from someone with a cool dispassionate intelligence, but a humane perspective, who is working on the ground, and who rightly points out that one can usually learn some new things by critically reading even the most biased accounts from both sides. I write as someone who is caught up with Israel as an (not the only) expression of Jewish history, with family and friends there, admiring of its noble aspirations and amazing achievements in all fields, but absolutely in agreement of the wilful refusal to face and accept responsibility for the reality of the dark or shadow side: the Nakba and continuing discrimination, which is huge, completely amoral, and shameful. It is projected outwards onto a simplistic convenient, monolithic demonisation of the Palestinians. Changing the victim psychology of the mainstream in Israel is an essential step - somehow light has to be let in, and this is the responsibility of Israeli intellectuals and religious leaders, who have failed badly, with very few exceptions. But jihadist and other international anti-semitism increasing around the world doesn't help. Nor does the geopolitcal game of Iran and its proxies, fuelled or perhaps only aided, by fierce Jew-hatred.
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