Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations

In This Review

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations
By Avi Shlaim
Verso, 2009
352 pp. $34.95
Purchase

This collection of 30 articles by Shlaim that have appeared over the past two decades in journals such as the London Review of Books and the Journal of Palestine Studies ranges chronologically from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the present and topically from individuals to governments and from wars to peace processes. That many of the articles are book reviews gives the book the bonus of also offering a historiographical survey. Shlaim, a pioneer of the revisionist school of "new historians" that emerged in the 1980s, provides a realpolitik reading of the history, demolishing the heroic and innocent image of Israel in its relations with the Palestinians. In his accounting, up to the June 1967 war, Israel acted much like other struggling new nations -- no better, no worse. After 1967, Israel became a colonialist power occupying others and steadily taking over their lands. The Israeli side of the story (viewed critically) is dominant in most of the articles, but
Shlaim, a historian of Israeli-Jordanian relations and biographer of the late King Hussein, has a good grasp of the Palestinian and Jordanian dimensions. He also presents several sharp observations on how the United States fits into this history.