As Israelis and Palestinians negotiate separation and division of their land, Meron Benvenisti, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, maintains that any expectations for 'peaceful partition' are doomed. In his brave and controversial new book, he raises the possibility of a confederation of Israel/Palestine, the only solution that he feels will bring lasting peace. The seven million people in the territory between Jordan and the Mediterranean are mutually dependent regarding employment, water, land use, ecology, transportation, and all other spheres of human activity. Each side, Benvenisti says, must accept the reality that two national entities are living within one geopolitical entity - their conflict is inter communal and will not be resolved by population transfers or land partition. A geographer and historian by training, a man passionately rooted in his homeland, Benvenisti skillfully conveys the perspective of both Israeli and Palestinian communities.
He recognizes the great political and ideological resistance to a confederation, but argues that there are Israeli Jews and Palestinians who can envision an undivided land, where attachment to a common homeland is stronger than militant tribalism and segregation in national ghettos. Acknowledging that equal coexistence between Israeli and Palestinian may yet be an impossible dream, he insists that such a dream deserves a place in the current negotiations. 'Meron Benvenisti is the Middle East expert to whom Middle East experts go for advice...the most oft-quoted and oft-damned analyst in Israel' - from the Foreword by Thomas L. Friedman.
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(210mm x 139mm x 28mm)
University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
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US Kirkus Review »
A rambling but occasionally insightful study of the political, economic, and psychological dynamics between Israeli Jews and Palestinian and Israeli Arabs, particularly during the period between the Temple Mount Massacre (Oct. 1990) and the Rabin-Arafat handshake at the White House (Sept. 1993). Benvenisti, Jerusalem's former deputy mayor (1971-78) and currently a columnist for the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, has very critical things to say about both sides of the conflict. He faults Israel for practicing a kind of malign neglect of Palestinian economic and political needs, for repeatedly trying to internationalize what he feels is inescapably an intercommunal conflict (e.g., by playing the "Jordanian option" when dealing directly with the Palestinians has seemed too fruitless or exasperating), and favoring the structurally unachievable goal of separation of the two communities. As for the Palestinians, besides geopolitical misjudgments culminating in support for Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War and Arafat's apparent fiscal corruption and political heavy-handedness toward internal opponents, Benvenisti feels they mistakenly view the conflict as an anticolonialist struggle, such as that of the Algerians against the French during the 1950s. He raises the possible solution of an "Israel/Palestine" confederation that "combines ethnic and cultural separation within a common geopolitical framework on the basis of national equality and a clear definition of the rights and obligations of the two ethnic components." But given each community's ties to a diaspora, the sharp economic inequality between, their very different political traditions, and a long history of enmity, such a confederation seems utterly unrealistic for the foreseeable future. But then, the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict is anything but predictable. It's clear how knowledgeable and passionately engaged he is in his subject, but Benvenisti's overly academic style and lack of historical and anecdotal material makes this book less appealing than other recent works on the conflict. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Meron Benvenisti
Meron Benvenisti was Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem under Teddy Kollek from 1971 to 1978 and administered largely Arab East Jerusalem. In 1982 he established the West Bank Database Project. Currently a columnist for Haaretz, Israel's largest newspaper, he is the author of numerous books, including Conflicts and Contradictions (1986). Thomas L. Friedman has won two Pulitzer Prizes (1983, 1988) for his reporting from the Middle East. He is the author of From Beirut to Jerusalem (1989), which received the National Book Award for nonfiction.