What explains the peculiar intensity and evident intractability of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict? Of all the “hot spots” in the world today, the apparently endless clash between Jews and Arabs in the Middle East seems unique in its longevity and resistance to resolution. Is this conflict really different from other ethnic and nationalist confrontations, and if so, in what way?
I demystify the conflict by putting it in broad historical perspective, identifying its roots, and tracing its evolution up to the current impasse. My account offers a clear analytic framework for understanding transformations over time – and in doing so, punctures the myths of an “age-old” conflict with an unbridgeable gap between the two sides. Rather than simply reciting historical detail, Israel/Palestine presents a clear overview that serves as a road map through the thicket of conflicting claims.
In this account the opposed perspectives of the two sides are presented in full, leaving readers to make their own evaluations of the issues. Israel/Palestine thus expresses fairly and objectively the concerns, hopes, fears, and passions of both sides, making it clear why this conflict is waged with such vehemence – and why, for all that, there are some grounds for optimism. The third edition has been thoroughly updated, with special attention to strategic issues of nuclear weapons and Iran; the international and regional context of the Arab-Israel conflict, and the position of the Arab citizens of Israel, have also been expanded.
Alan Dowty is professor of political science emeritus at the University of Notre Dame.