In This Review

Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs At the End of the Century
Waging Peace: Israel and the Arabs At the End of the Century
By Itamar Rabinovich
Farrar, 1999, 224 pp

That hackneyed blurb "if you're going to read only one book . . ." actually applies in this case. Rabinovich offers a masterful overview without wasting a word. An opening chapter boils down the essentials of the Arab-Israeli confrontation from the earliest days to the 1991 Madrid Conference; the following four chapters trace in greater detail the subsequent developments. The author concludes by proposing a "new agenda" of prudent realism that applies the lessons learned. First, prospects for a single great breakthrough are dim. Second, Israel's plan to address the remaining issues with the Palestinians first and then tackle negotiations with Syria (or vice versa) will not work. Third, a bold program of regional economic development might provoke as many negative responses as positive ones. Instead, Israel and the Arabs will best make progress through incremental steps that wrestle with all issues simultaneously. The United States, Rabinovich believes, remains essential in keeping Middle East peacemaking on track. A distillation of a seasoned scholar's thoughtful good sense, this book's great strength is its fair and accurate presentation of policies and perceptions of all sides.