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The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories

The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories

Neil Caplan

ISBN: 978-1-405-17538-8

Aug 2009, Wiley-Blackwell

336 pages

In Stock



The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories provides non-specialist readers with an introduction and historical overview of the issues that have characterized and defined 130 years of the still unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  • Provides a fresh attempt to break away from polemical approaches that have undermined academic discussion and political debates
  • Focuses on a series of core arguments that the author considers essentially unwinnable
  • Introduces readers to the major historiographical debates sparked by the dispute
  • Encourages readers to consider more useful ways of explaining and understanding the conflict, and to go beyond trying to prove who is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’

"This volume suggests a fresh and original interpretation to the history of the Arab Israeli conflict. Caplan juggles skillfully and even-handedly between the two narratives, reflecting the parties’ own views without embracing the cause of any party."
Joseph Nevo, University of Haifa

"An impressive and very valuable work. One could not ask for a better short history of the conflict. Caplan offers readers a study that is extremely well-informed, resolutely fair-minded, and filled with thoughtful insights."
Mark Tessler, University of Michigan

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This item: The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories

The Making of Modern Israel: 1948-1967 (Hardcover $69.95)

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List of Maps.



Part I Introduction.

1. Problems in Defining the Conflict.

2. Defining the Conflict, Nevertheless.

Part II Histories in Contention.

3. Background to 1917: Origins of Conflict.

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

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

6. Shoah, Atzma’ut, Nakba: 1939–1949.

7. Israel and the Arab States, 1949–1973.

8. Back to the Core: Israel and the Palestinians.

9. From Camp David to the West Bank to Lebanon.

10. From Boycott to Mutual Recognition, 1982–2008.

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

11. Writing about the Conflict.

12. Confronting the Obstacles.



Part of a series called “Contesting the Past,” this even-handed study is by a Canadian academic who has spent his whole career researching and teaching the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Caplan provides a brisk and balanced account of it. But he also manoeuvers deftly between and above the Arab and Zionist narratives and helpfully defines the main historiographical disputes that keep scholars arguing—included loaded terminology like “terrorism” and “resistance.” It looks at the core arguments “that seem to deadlock protagonists and historians alike,” explaining cogently why the conflict has not yet been resolved—and why it may never be.
-Ian Black, Literary Hub

"Several of the methodological and analytical chapters (i.e. those dealing with ""missed opportunities"" and "obstacles to a settlement"") are insightful and very helpful. More important, the substantial core of his book demonstrates that through the layers of propaganda, advocacy and sheer hostility an honest, professional historian can still decipher the code of lsraeli Palestinian relations and convey it to his readers." (Bustan: The Middle East Book Review, 2011)

"This is the best book I have seen for use as a text for introductory course on the conflict. Instead of overwhelming students with names, dates, and events, it presents the most important concepts of each stage of the conflict, and connects them to the key issues in contention." (Professor Paul L. Scham, 2011)

"The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories provides an impressive, balanced, and comprehensive one hundred thirty year history of the conflict. . . This is an original and important contribution to the study of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I recommend the book wholeheartedly." (Review of Middle East Studies, 1 November 2010)

"Th[e] focus on 'dueling narratives' is clearly applicable to the Israeli-Palestinian case, and is employed here with great skill. This is also a very self-reflective book, with as much attention given to arguments over interpretation and historiography as to the history itself. Within this framework, Caplan has provided us with one of the best executed overviews of the Israeli-Palestinian (or Arab-Israeli) conflict available. Perhaps the relativists are correct that perfect objectivity is impossible; nevertheless, Caplan has achieved a level of detachment that ought to be an object of emulation." (Israel Studies Forum, Fall 2010)

"A whopping 28-page bibliography and a chronology complete what is surely one of the most accessible, coherent, and balanced accounts available of this very contested history." (Foreign Affairs, January 2011)

"Neil Caplan's concise and excellent primer, The Israel-Palestine Conflict: Contested Histories places Israel's struggle with the Palestinians and the Arabs in perspective. Caplan, a professor of history at Concordia University in Montreal, analyzes the key issues with piercing insight." (The Canadian Jewish News, July 2010)

"The book may serve not only as an advanced introductory reading, but also as an authoritative overview of the literature and disputed issues of the conflict." (H-Soz-u-Kult, May 2010)

"Neil Caplan has devoted a lifetime to understanding, teaching, and writing prolifically about the origins and development of Arab-Jewish relations, and particularly aspects of Arab-Israeli negotiations dating back to before World War I. More than half a dozen scholarly monographs later, in writing this summative analysis, he has again maintained a characteristically meticulous devotion to sources. Almost unique in our professional specialty, he enthusiastically presents an unbiased presentation of viewpoints. It will have wide appeal for followers of the conflict, and can be used as an introductory primer for one's first exposure to the conflict's century-long twists and turns." (Middle East Journal, Spring 2010)

"Indentifies major stumbling blocks ensnaring the potential for peace and eloquently outlines the various intellectual and moral identities of various scholarly approaches. Most valuable is its reconsideration of how history is understood and expressed by scholars, activists, and the victims and perpetrators of this tired and bloody conflict." (Ottawa Jewish Bulletin, March 2010)

"In this age of polarization it is refreshing to read a work on this subject which eschews partisanship, refuses to champion one people over another, and recognizes that both make plausible claims to the same land. (Outlook, November 2009)