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12 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Terrible, 29 Mar. 2010
This review is from: One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate (Hardcover)
This assessment of pre-Israel Palestine is best read in tandem with Prof. Yehoshua Porath's article in the spring 2000 issue of Azure. Segev claims here that the British came to rule Palestine with no clear idea of what they wanted. Segev supposes that a well-organized Arab nationalist movement, vigorously opposed to British rule, mounted the murderous Arab "revolt" of 1936-1939 and forced Britain to conclude it had no interest in Palestine and should leave. These ideas are ridiculous.

Why it took the British until 1948 to leave, Segev does not explain. As to voluminous evidence that the British stirred up Arab nationalism and the anti-Semitic revolt and joined in fighting the Arab's first war against Israel (as accounted by Col. R. Meinertzhagen, Samuel Katz, and many others), Segev keeps silent. Nor does he note that British general John Glubb commanded the Transjordanian army.

Segev asks political questions. 1) Why did the British conquer Palestine? 2) Why did they commit in 1917 to establish a Jewish National Home? 3) Why did they stay in Palestine? 4) Why did the British leave?

But Segev derides official British papers as too tiresome and voluminous to read. Segev bases his conclusions entirely on gleanings from diaries, personal letters, articles and books written by local Britons, Arabs and Jews, none previously consulted by historians--probably because they describe the social scene, not politics. The resultant fiction on Mandatory Palestine repeats the old Arnold Toynbee canard that Britain promised Palestine twice.

This conclusion is also ridiculous: Better accounts (which Segev ignores) are provided by scholars like
Efraim Karsh (Empires of the Sand); Elie Kedourie (In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth; Chatham House Version); David Fromkin (A Peace to End All Peace); Conor C. O'Brien (The Siege); Samuel Katz (Battleground); Bat Ye'or ([[ASIN: Islam and Dhimmidtude: Where Civilizations Collide]]) and Howard Sachar (History of Israel).

The worst aspect of Segev's work is his failure to note that Britain's conquest of Palestine was part of a calculated political and military strategy to establish a land bridge between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. This, the British intended to enable their rapid deployment of troops to the Gulf, defend the Empire's vast East Indian interests, protect their territories from Russian invasion, and to provide an alternative to and protection of Egypt's Suez Canal. Segev claims that "[The British] gave [Palestine] to the Zionists because they loved 'the Jews' even as they loathed them" and feared them. He also posits that the British were guided something other than strategic considerations, and lacked an "orderly decision-making process." (p. 33) Good grief. Even if this were true (which it isn't) Segev hardly disproves the importance of the land bridge as the driving force behind British policy.

Segev also minimizes the importance and effect of Britain's 1939 White Paper, which slowed immigration of Jews to Palestine--mandated by the League of Nation in 1922, with international support--to a trickle. Britain trapped Europe's Jews inside Nazi-controlled Europe, denying them their one viable escape hatch. Segev, however, suggests that the White Paper had no practical result, since even the quota established was not filled. But how could it have been filled, when obtaining papers became so difficult in the aftermath of the White Paper? Honestly.

The White Paper exponentially increased the difficulty to European Jews of getting immigration papers, according to account after Holocaust survivor account, as well as work by esteemed Holocaust scholars such as David Wyman (Abandonment of the Jews). Besides refusing to consider a plan to save Europe's Jews, the British deployed 100,000 troops and a large armada in Palestine and the Mediterranean to capture Jews escaping from Europe and return them to that hell--policies the White Paper spelled out. Britain intended to limit Jewish immigration, and did so very effectively.

Once Britain opened Palestine Mandate and foreign office records, decades later, historians discovered that all correspondences concerning wartime immigration into Palestine, among other items, had mysteriously disappeared. In other words, Segev discounts the fact that British officials, obviously mortified post facto by their inhumane actions in 1939 and after, destroyed all especially damning evidence. Segev ignores the fact that the British in London and Palestine well understood the effects of their White Paper policy on European Jews. Segev's thesis does not square with the facts.

Segev also gives short shrift to the 7-nation Arab attack on Israel upon her 1948 founding, belying the Arab intention to destroy the Jewish state. Arab League Secretary General Azzam Pasha in 1948 promised "a war of extermination," "a momentous massacre" to be remembered "like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades"-and gruesome acts followed. Israel lost 6,373 persons in the war, more than twice Arab losses--and nearly 1% of her population. Of these Israeli casualties, 600 were noncombatants abused, mutilated beyond recognition and decapitated by Arab captors, who were assisted by British military aide and blockades that turned a blind eye to illegal Arab gun-running.

Segev doesn't concern himself with the violence that preceded the 1947-8 war, who started hostilities--or why. He doesn't ask who needed to mount defenses or state the casualties on both sides. These is nothing here concerning British participation on the Arab side. In 1947, Israel accepted partition of less than 20% of the land allotted by the League of Nations in 1922 as a National Home for the Jews, while the Arabs begrudged Israel even that.

Much as I love books, this is one that deserves to be heaved out with the bathwater.

--Alyssa A. Lappen
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Showing 1-10 of 13 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Oct 2010 22:27:35 BDT
Cav says:
"While the Arabs begrudged Israel even that."??? If Israel accepted partition of less than 20%, and you use the word 'accepted', can you explain the role played by Irgun, Hagana and the Stern Gang? Can you explain what Al Nakba is?

Posted on 27 Mar 2011 14:47:06 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Mar 2011 23:50:20 BDT
Sine says:
Thank you for bothering to analyze the text so that those of us who are actually looking for sound info can spend our time outside the realms of dogmatic twisting around :)
(and no, Mr Wood below, I am not being ironic. I grew up with those dogmatic views you push so passionately and have had to do an enormous amount of research for myself to clear up all those misrepresentations I was fed. It is nice to get some hints to speed once learning curve up a bit.)

Posted on 27 Mar 2011 17:03:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Mar 2011 22:03:36 BDT
S Wood says:
Sine are you serious? Or is this a deeply ironic posting on your behalf?

Readers may be interested in scrolling up the page until they get to the link labelled with the reviewers name- click the link. Scroll down to the link labelled "see all reviews" to see all the reviews by Lappen. Click on it. Change the option from see most recent reviews to see most recent comments. Click "Go". In the list of commented upon reviews this review of Tom Segev's will appear twice. Why is that? Some time ago i commented in detail on this review, debunking much of the nonsense it contains. Lappen rather than dealing with the criticism deleted the review complete with criticism and re-posted it without the criticism, simply because she couldn't answer the criticism levelled at her pathetic and partisan review of Segev's interesting book.

You would appear to be a derisable fraud Lappen, and only a fool would take your review at face value.

In reply to an earlier post on 30 Mar 2011 21:55:03 BDT
Last edited by the author on 30 Mar 2011 22:01:45 BDT
S Wood says:

Ah i see - your cocking a snook at mom and pop and historical reality is collateral damage in that conflict? I guess it must be a great help to you that you don't have to read a point by point refutation of Lappens "review" which may have disturbed that process?

In reply to an earlier post on 28 May 2011 07:59:29 BDT
"Such scholars as Samuel Katz..."

Samuel Katz, Begn's right hand man in the Irgun. A scholar? Come off it...This book has its flaws, namely that it needs extra chapters on the post-war years of the Mandate, but it is a very good book on the 'peace' years of the Mandate and its treatment of the Arab Revolt is interesting.

Posted on 19 Feb 2013 15:13:26 GMT
Nullifidian says:
You can read about this reviewer here:
Go to the section "Book Reviews".
Says it all, really.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Jul 2014 22:48:06 BDT
Thanks for the link. You're right, it does say it all.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Aug 2014 19:00:12 BDT
gary says:
Go to, to find out a bit about Lappen.

Posted on 1 Dec 2015 18:12:21 GMT
Andy Dyer says:
Its possible that SourceWatch has found itself under pressure concerning the article they wanted to host concerning this review. Best go to see it now and take a copy for future reference.

In reply to an earlier post on 1 Dec 2015 18:57:51 GMT
Nullifidian says:
If you cannot find the Lappen stuff any more, try here:
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