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The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories, 2nd Edition



The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories, 2nd Edition

Neil Caplan

ISBN: 978-1-119-52401-4 September 2019 Wiley-Blackwell 384 Pages

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One of the "10 Must-Read Histories of the Palestine-Israel Conflict"

—Ian Black, Literary Hub, on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration

The new edition of the acclaimed text that explores the issues continuing to define the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Numerous instances of competing, sometimes incompatible narratives of controversial events are found throughout history. Perhaps the starkest example of such contradictory representations is the decades-long conflict between Israel and Palestine. For over 140 years, Israelis, Palestinians, and scores of peacemakers have failed to establish a sustainable, mutually-acceptable solution. The Israel-Palestine Conflict introduces the historical basis of the dispute and explores both the tangible issues and intangible factors that have blocked a peaceful resolution. Author Neil Caplan helps readers understand the complexities and contradictions of the conflict and why the histories of Palestine and Israel are so fiercely contested.

Now in its second edition, this book has been thoroughly updated to reflect the events that have transpired since its original publication. Fresh insights consider the impact of current global and regional instability and violence on the prospects of peace and reconciliation. New discussions address recent debates over two-state versus one-state solutions, growing polarization in public discourse outside of the Middle East, the role of public intellectuals, and the growing trend of merging scholarship with advocacy. Part of the Wiley-Blackwell Contested Histories series, this clear and accessible volume:

  • Offers a balanced, non-polemic approach to current academic discussions and political debates on the Israel-Palestine conflict
  • Highlights eleven core arguments viewed by the author as unwinnable
  • Encourages readers to go beyond simply assigning blame in the conflict
  • Explores the major historiographical debates arising from the dispute
  • Includes updated references and additional maps

Already a standard text for courses on the history and politics of the Middle East, The Israel-Palestine Conflict is an indispensable resource for students, scholars, and interested general readers.

List of Maps xi

Preface to the First Edition xiii

Preface to the Second Edition xv

Abbreviations xvii

Note on Sources xix

Part I Introduction 1

1 Problems in Defining the Conflict 3

What’s in a Name? 4

Loaded Terminology 5

Maps 7

Dates and Periodization 10

An Ongoing Conflict: Tractable or Intractable? 13

Conflict Resolution or Conflict Management? 14

The “Other” Arab–Israeli Conflict 15

Advocacy and Censure 16

2 Defining the Conflict, Nevertheless 21

Who are the Conflicting Parties? 21

What are the Main Issues in Contention among the Parties to the Conflict? 25

Competing Narratives: Right versus Right, Victim versus Victim 33

Ways of Visualizing the Conflict 34

Analogies and Parables 36

The Conflict in Comparative Perspective: Three Paradigms 37

Part II Histories in Contention 43

3 Background to 1917: Origins of Conflict 45

Ancient Ties and Historical Memories 45

Early Encounters: 1880s–1914 48

An Unseen Question? 50

Colonialism and Nationalism 51

Victims versus Victims 55

4 Arabs and Jews under the British Mandate: Entrenching Positions, 1917–1928 61

Wartime Commitments: Palestine as the “Much Too Promised Land”? 61

Britain’s “Dual Obligation” 64

The Mandate and Its Implementation: Cycle of Protests and Inquiry Commissions 67

Clashes and Confrontations during the Early Years of the Mandate 70

Zionist Responses to Palestinian–Arab Opposition 71

“Making the Desert Bloom” 73

The Deceptive Lull 77

5 Collapse of the Mandate: Rebellion, Partition, White Paper, 1929–1939 83

Radicalization of Palestinian Politics 83

General Strike and Rebellion, 1936 86

Turning Point: The (Peel) Royal Commission 87

Retreat from Partition 91

The Resort to Force: Violence, Terrorism, and National Struggles 92

6 Shoah, Atzma’ut, Nakba: 1939–1949 105

The Holocaust and Jewish Immigration to Palestine 105

The Anglo–American Committee of Inquiry 110

UNSCOP and the Creation of Israel 111

War: Atzma’ut and Nakba 115

Nakba and Shoah: Victims versus Victims, Once Again 123

7 Israel and the Arab States, 1949–1973 133

The Palestinian Issue after 1949 133

From Armistice to Non‐Peace 136

Low‐Intensity Border Warfare, 1949–1956 139

From War to War, I (1949–1956) 142

From War to War, II (1957–1967) 145

From War to War, III (1967–1973) 150

8 Back to the Core: Israel and the Palestinians 163

Primal Fears, New Militancy 163

The Re‐Emergence of the Palestinian National Movement after 1967 165

The Palestine Question at the United Nations 171

9 From Camp David to the West Bank to Lebanon 181

Camp David and the Israel–Egypt Peace Process 181

The West Bank and Gaza after Camp David 184

Operation “Peace for Galilee”: Israel Invades Lebanon, 1982 188

Righteous Victimhood in the 1980s 189

10 From Mutual Boycott to Mutual Recognition, 1982–1995 199

Peace Plans and Planting Seeds 199

The First Intifada and the Gulf War, 1987–1991 201

Madrid and Oslo: A New Peace Process 206

11 From Breakthrough to Breakdown, 1995–2018 219

Continuing Diplomatic Efforts 220

The Al‐Aqsa Intifada 223

Changes in the Geo‐Strategic Environment 225

Three Gaza Wars, Three Blueprints for Peace 227

The Annapolis Process and Kerry’s Shuttle Diplomacy 230

Part III Towards a More Useful Discussion of the Arab–Israeli Conflict 243

12 Writing about the Conflict 245

On the Shortcomings of “Myths versus Facts” 246

Objectivity and Bias in Academe 248

Scholars and Activists 252

Israel’s “New Historians” 257

Missed Opportunities 259

Trends in Palestinian and Israeli Historiography 265

13 Grappling with the Obstacles 277

Issues versus Rights 277

The Shape of the Future: What “Solutions”? 279

Unwinnable Core Arguments 285

Righteous Victimhood 286

Imagining Dialogue 289

Reducing Some Obstacles to Understanding the Conflict 291

Telling It Like It Is 294

Chronology 305

Bibliography 319

Index 355