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Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict de…
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Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (edició 2004)

de Charles D. Smith (Autor)

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232286,160 (3.93)1
Overview: Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict provides a comprehensive, balanced, and accessible narrative of a complex historical topic. The narrative is supported by more than 40 primary documents that highlight perspectives from all sides of the struggle. Throughout the book, the author examines how underlying issues, group motives, religious and cross-cultural clashes, diplomacy and imperialism, and the arrival of the modern era shaped this volatile region. Map, photographs, chronologies, and discussion questions help facilitate student understanding. And a fully updated final chapter makes this the most current history of the topic.… (més)
Membre:StammChris
Títol:Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Autors:Charles D. Smith (Autor)
Informació:Bedford/St. Martin's (2004), Edition: Fifth Edition, 567 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict de Charles D. Smith

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This is a book of Breathtaking Bias.

.
I purchased and read it because I saw that it was being used for the "Jews and Arabs in Contact and Conflict" course given at Cornell University.

In the preface Smith states that, "in the early 1980s [he] could not find a satisfactory text to introduce the subject to the college student or the general reader." Over the course of the next 500+ pages one understands Smith's use of the word "satisfactory" here. Smith assures us that he considers "Zionist and Palestinian attitudes."

I should have known right then that this would not be a history in the usual sense of the word. After all, what sort of history is it that considers attitudes? And right at the beginning he sets up the opposing sides, as it were, Zionists and Palestinians. These are both loaded words and Smith knows it.

Smith uses many loaded words: right-wing and right (but almost never left-wing or left), terrorist, and imperialist. Only Jews are right-wing. Apparently there were never any right-wing Arabs. Terrorists, too, are almost always Jewish. Arabs who attack the Jews are insurgents, squads, units, etc. And the imperialists are the Americans!

In a history of Palestine, certain things should appear which Smith omits. One is a map showing the boundaries of the first legal entity known as Palestine issued following the Balfour Declaration. (Up until that time it was merely a region just as Scandinavia is.) That would include all of Israel, the Golan Heights, the West Bank, Gaza, and all of Jordan. Those who can read between the lines may pick up on this when Smith refers to the "British Decision in March 1921 to separate Palestine east of the Jordan River," but histories really are not supposed to be like detective novels. Another thing that should appear in a history of Palestine is Mark Twain's description from "The Innocents Abroad," where Twain finds the Holy Land desolate and virtually uninhabited, but this would not be Smith's Palestine where the merciless Zionists displace the indigenous Arabs. And in this book described as "A History with Documents," the Balfour Declaration is curiously difficult to locate unless one already knows what it is. It is NOT included in any of the documents sections that follow each of the chapters.

To Smith the Palestinians are now, and were always, Arabs. He correctly notes that Herodotus uses the word "Palestine," but this was more than a thousand years before anything associated with the word "Arab" even existed. One doesn't have to go back to ancient history though. Readers who go to any of the annual issues of the "New York Times Index," published before the Balfour Declaration and look up "Palestine," will be told, "See: Jews." Smith tells us, "Palestine, as the home of Jesus, was sacred to Christians." Of course, Jesus never thought he lived in Palestine; and Smith's choice of the past tense here is at least interesting.

This is a book with pictures. There is one of an Israeli bulldozer clearing the area in front of the Wailing Wall, and one of "Palestinian Peasants Fleeing from an Unidentified Village." Another shows what looks like an Israeli soldier aiming a rifle at some Palestinian women. Arafat is shown addressing the United Nations looking like an angel. And then there is the subtle cover photograph, probably take in Jerusalem. It shows two Arabs (a majority) walking behind (subserviently) a single Jew. One of the poor Arabs walks with a cane while the other casts a wary eye toward the Jew in front of him.

There are no pictures taken during the siege at the Munich Olympics, or of any of the Arab airplane hijackings. In fact, I don't think the airplane hijackings are mentioned at all. The Olympic Massacre (unindexed) is tangentially mentioned over four lines on one page. But Baruch Goldstein's massacre in Hebron (three index references to five pages) is a prominent event. The massacre of Arabs at Deir Yassin (indexed twice) is presented in the worst possible light and presented as a typical, but the massacre of Jews in Hebron (indexed only under Hebron) is briefly mentioned and glossed over. You get the picture.

The way an historian portrays the players is always interesting. For Smith, Arafat is a diplomat, Nasser was a peaceful man who could not control his military, and President Reagan was a foreign policy ignoramus. Israeli leaders are a uniformly deceitful lot when they aren't targeting peaceful "Palestinians." (And why does Smith spell Hussein, as Husayn?!)
There is no bibliography in the usual sense. Smith has what he calls a "Selected Bibliography," which is organized by chapters, and lists books he DID NOT refer to in the footnotes. Still one can learn something from this list. Here is a run of consecutive works cited for Chapters 4 and 5: Swedenburg - Memories of Revolt: The 1936-1939 Rebellion and the Palestinian National Past; Zadka - Blood in Zion: How the Jewish Guerillas Drove the British Out of Palestine; Heller - The Stern Gang: Ideology, Politics and Terror, 1940-1949; Nevo - Abdullah and Palestine: A Territorial Ambition; and Shapira - Land and Power: The Zionist Resort to Force, 1881-1948. Smith thinks this is balance.

Of course there is no reference to Joan Peters' From Time Immemorial, in the footnotes or the "Selected Bibliography." The Peters book would be my recommendation for someone who is genuinely interested in the history of this region called Palestine.

By now you are probably wondering why I rated this book at three out of a possible five stars. I said at the outset that this is a book of breathtaking bias. I was actually sorry when it ended. The creativity of Charles Smith in presenting his "history" continued to amaze me right up until the last page. This book needs to be studied by students as a model of how historical facts can be manipulated and distorted by someone who masquerades as an historian. ( )
  MLNJ | May 30, 2019 |
9
  OberlinSWAP | Aug 1, 2015 |
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The present state of Israel constitutes a substantial portion of what was once considered Palastine.
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Overview: Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict provides a comprehensive, balanced, and accessible narrative of a complex historical topic. The narrative is supported by more than 40 primary documents that highlight perspectives from all sides of the struggle. Throughout the book, the author examines how underlying issues, group motives, religious and cross-cultural clashes, diplomacy and imperialism, and the arrival of the modern era shaped this volatile region. Map, photographs, chronologies, and discussion questions help facilitate student understanding. And a fully updated final chapter makes this the most current history of the topic.

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