Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

In This Review

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict

By Norman G. Finkelstein
Verso, 1995
243 pp. $34.95

The prospects for war between Israel and the Arab nations may be fading, but the war of the historians rages on. For some years, revisionists have been dismantling Israeli and Arab myths created in the formative years of the conflict. Now, as in this book, the revisionists themselves are under attack for not going far enough. Finkelstein already has one victory to his credit. Along with a few other conscientious scholars, he demonstrated that Joan Peters’ book From Time Immemorial, which claimed that Palestinians arrived in Palestine only recently, was based on shoddy scholarship. That landmark essay is included in this collection and is the best of his offerings. More controversially, Finkelstein tackles Benny Morris, author of an important account of the origins of the Palestinian refugee exodus. Here he praises much of Morris’ empirical research but rejects the conclusion that the exodus was born of war rather than a master plan. All this is bound to be a bit confusing to readers new to the historiography of the Arab-Israeli conflict, but for those well versed in the debates and the literature, this thoroughly documented book is guaranteed to stimulate and provoke. It will be required reading in the continuing war of the historians.

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