Yet when Saladin retook the city in he imitated Umar, not the Crusaders. Not a single Christian was killed, and Jews would have been similarly treated, had they not previously been banned from the city by the Christians. The Muslims were not always such paragons.
In , for example, the mad Caliph of Cairo, Al-Hakim, demolished the Christian shrines and in marauding Turks devastated the city and murdered many of its inhabitants. Muslim rule of Jerusalem lasted until , a period of 12 centuries, which was longer than Jewish and Christian rule added together. The new British conquerors did much good for the city; unfortunately, they were encumbered with the Balfour Declaration, promising a National Home for the Jews in Palestine.
In the 19th century Jews had become a majority in Jerusalem, while remaining a small minority in Palestine as a whole, a fact which the British Government chose to disregard in Balfour had had intimate experience of the trouble caused by the clash of nationalisms in Ireland, yet his love affair with Zionism led him to introduce a similar conflict into Palestine, with disastrous consequences not only for the indigenous Palestinian population but for British interests.
The Balfour Declaration led to the expulsion of the Palestinians and to their diaspora, as well as to at least five wars, with more, probably, to come. Martin Gilbert quotes a remark by Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary in , which well conveys the frivolous irresponsibility of Balfour and Lloyd George. For example, he twice claims that under the British mandate there was substantial illegal Arab immigration into Palestine, even alleging that more Arabs emigrated there than Jews. As the British authorities knew at the time, and demographers such as Justin McCarthy have since shown, that is nonsense.
Between and over , Jews emigrated legally to Palestine; during the same period the number of Arab immigrants was 13, Again, he implies perhaps inadvertently that the Israeli massacre of Arab men, women and children at Deir Yassin in April was the only incident of its kind. In fact, as Norman Finkelstein makes clear, the Israelis committed at least twenty large-scale massacres of Palestinians more than fifty killed in each as well as about a hundred smaller ones. Most effectively, he revises the Israeli revisionist historians, showing, particularly over the Palestinian exodus in , that they still have some way to go before their history is fully accurate.
Ordinary Zionist historians are much further away from the truth. Their difficulty is that the facts are overwhelmingly Arab; hence they seem unconsciously impelled to slant them in order to produce a narrative that is palatable to themselves and their readers. Nonetheless, despite his tilt, Gilbert is well worth reading.
He has an unrivalled ability to tell a story through the eyes of some of those taking part and his book is good popular history. They could probably have done with a third collaborator, a historian. Their modern history is similarly awry.
Although they sometimes cite books by the Israeli revisionists, they seem not to have absorbed their lessons. In the late Forties the Israelis launched a massive and prolonged campaign to persuade Arab Jews to emigrate to Israel; hence they were less victims of persecution than of Israeli nationalism. The bombs which terrorised the Jewish community in Baghdad in turned out to have been thrown by Zionists. In fact his acceptance was strongly signalled in and unambiguously announced in Yet despite these and other blunders Friedland and Hecht are usually fair, and their book, based on many interviews conducted over a period of years, contains much fascinating material.
They are especially good on the fast increasing number of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem.
At various times Herzl considered founding a Jewish state in Argentina and Uganda, either of which venues would presumably have caused far less misery and trouble than Palestine. Conversely, the religious Jews living in Jerusalem then and later were opposed to political Zionism, which they considered sacrilegious and a contradiction of the messianic promises of Judaism.
Some of them still do. In strong contrast, another rabbi believes that God even delivered the Holocaust as a Zionist ploy. Friedland and Hecht include a section on the rules governing the wedding night and sexual behaviour of the Haredim, to whom apparently sexuality is a fearsome thing. Their young couples, who barely know each other, are kept in total sexual ignorance until their wedding day, when they are hurriedly briefed, a procedure which sometimes sends them into shock.
The groom is instructed. Genitals must be washed before and after intercourse. And in no case may a young man study religious law during the sexual act. Indeed if there are religious books in the bedroom, they must be carefully covered with two cloths before the woman enters. Sexual intercourse must take place on a bed with mattress, sheet and blanket Because of the menstrual cycle, Orthodox men and women have to abstain from sexual intercourse for two weeks in every month. Most of the leading political Zionists have been atheists or agnostics, yet they have managed to believe that God has given them in perpetuity the lands of Judea and Samaria.
This bodes ill for secular Israelis. It also bodes ill for the Palestinians — not that they have not been consistently ill-treated by the secular Israelis. In , he acted accordingly. Political Zionism was from one point of view a manifestation of 19th and early 20th-century imperialism, a Western colonisation of Asia.
European colonialism had many dark features, but underneath it there nearly always lay the aim to make life better for the local inhabitants, at least in the future. Not so Zionist colonisation. Cohen is relieved that Israel never developed a theory of racial supremacy, but sees many parallels between the two apartheid regimes and thinks that black Africans were more likely to get a fair trial in South Africa than Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.
Shahak would probably argue that Israel did not need a theory of racial supremacy, because it already had a religious one. In any case, practice is more important than theory, and after Israel practised apartheid in the Occupied Territories. It has, for instance, Shahak reports, designated 70 per cent of the West Bank land Jewish 92 per cent in Israel proper , which means that Palestinians cannot live or work on it. All that has been bad enough, but now it is combined with right-wing religious fundamentalism.
He may well be right, yet on the building of illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories, officially around Jerusalem, perhaps the most malignant of all Zionist activities, secular Israelis have been at least as culpable as religious ones.
So much for the idea that Peres is a man of peace. While the landscape of the whole West Bank has been spoiled by these settlements, Jerusalem has been the worst sufferer. Finkelstein, expanding upon his doctorate thesis, writes that the modern Zionist historical tradition is based on a series of ideologically-charged systematic biases , all of which face considerable problems when measured up with the actual record in his view.
For example, he specifically refers to the Palestinian exodus before Israeli independence and the purported causes.
Finkelstein credits Zionist military aggression upon Palestinian villages and calls for a transfer of populations as driving Palestinian refugees out of their lands, rather than a voluntary exodus occurring mixed in with orders to leave from Arabic leaders and other factors as Israeli historians have written. He goes into detail on issues such as Israel's exploitation of water rights.
Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, New and Revised Edition [ Norman G. Paperback: pages; Publisher: Verso; 2nd edition (April ). Editorial Reviews. Review. “ this thoroughly documented book is guaranteed to stimulate and Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict 2nd Edition, Kindle Edition. by.
His book received praise from authors critical of Israel, and William B. London Review of Books published a review stating that the book served as "both an impressive analysis of Zionist ideology and a searing but scholarly indictment of Israel 's treatment of the Arabs since Rita J. Simon from American University gave a mixed review though praising the book for arguments that based on scholarly references and saying that it " more than an emotional diatribe against Israel" she criticized it for letting the reader to believe that "Israelis are the Nazis of the 21st century" and says that such notion destroys " the scholarly integrity of their work.
William B. Quandt , in a short review in Foreign Affairs , praised the book as "required reading in the continuing war of the historians. Robert S. Wistrich says that in the book Finkelstein. Historian Avi Shlaim remarked that the "book makes a major contribution to the study of the Arab-Israeli conflict which deserves to be widely read, especially in the United States. Finkelstein, Norman G. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Books portal Palestine portal.
Middle East Studies Association Bulletin. Image and reality of the Israel-Palestine conflict 2nd ed.