Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land

by David K. Shipler

Book, 1986



Call number

890 SHI



New York : Times Books, c1986.


The Jew, according to the Arab stereotype, is a brutal, violent coward; the Arab, to the prejudiced Jew, is a primitive creature of animal vengeance and cruel desires. In this monumental work, David Shipler delves into the origins of the prejudices that have been intensified by war, terrorism, nationalism, and the failure of the peace process.

User reviews

LibraryThing member KendraRenee
This book explains a LOT - so much that it made me not want to ever visit the Middle East. It’s way fucked up. With that said, Shipler is a genius at teasing out all the nuances of the conflict and laying them out for the reader to comprehend. He tries not to make anyone the bad guy, keeping it
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all fact-based and objective. [Facts, however, have a way of picking sides on their own.]

Anyway, if you're confused as to why Israel/Palestine just CAN'T SEEM TO MAKE PEACE ALREADY, read this. It will help. But please get the up-to-date edition. The whole time I was reading the one printed in 1984, I couldn’t stop wondering what’s changed… though the answer to that, sadly, is probably: not much.
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LibraryThing member PhoenixTerran
2001 edition, Revised and Updated

Arab and Jew is a wonderful introduction to the Arab-Israeli conflict. David K. Shipler won a Pulitzer Prize when he published the first edition of this book in 1986. In his revised edition, Shipler has chosen to keep the text of the original, supplementing it with
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footnotes and postscripts containing new and updated information.

Understandably, it is not a particularly uplifting book. There is some hope for the situation, but quite a bit will have to change before we see any results. Shipler has done a marvelous job of presenting both sides of the story without declaring one side to be right. In fact, one of his points in writing this book was to make people ask questions that they may not have been before.

Instead of asking "the experts," Shipler interviewed and observed the people themselves. This provides a unique perspective in which the readers can attempt to understand the underlying problems of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The text seems to wander a bit and doesn't provide a particularly linear investigation of the subject, but it does include a very detailed index.

The book is divided into three major sections: Aversion, Images, and Interaction. The first part, Aversion, mainly addresses the historical and violent aspects (war, terrorism, religious absolutism) of the conflict. Images investigates the various stereotypes perpetuated by either side. The third part, Interaction looks at the relationships, both good and bad, between the groups involved and within the groups themselves. Arab and Jew is lengthy and heavy reading, but it is certainly worth the time.

Experiments in Reading
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LibraryThing member Jim_Sipe
This was a long read over the holidays; however, a very rewarding experience. I was one of the best bools I have read that told the story of the conflict that the Middle East has and is experiencing. The detail was exactly what I was looking for. The first hand accounts that are included provide
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excellent examples of what was being discussed.
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
This is the history of the relationship between Arab and Jew. Shipler painstakingly traces the prejudice back to its origin and examines the cultural, religious, and socioeconomic divide that has existed ever since. Shipler's reporting is exemplary. He is unbiased but obviously very concerned about
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the everyday ordinary people just trying to survive in this land of unrest. Shipler's voice is at once delicate and forthright in his descriptions and details involving terrorism, nationalism, and political conflict. He refers frequently to information he has collected from textbooks of various grade levels to demonstrate the education & "miseducation" of middle eastern children.
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LibraryThing member laurenhc
At the end of the Foreword to Arab and Jew, David Shipler writes, "The partisan will not find satisfaction in this book; at least I hope not. I hope to bother him, to nag him into facing unpleasantness. If he is tempted to stop when he first meets a difficult fact, I would only urge him to read
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on." This is an accurate description, and valuable advice. Reading this book as a Jew who was raised with a love of Israel was very difficult but fascinating and educational.

The first edition of Arab and Jew won the Pulitzer Prize, so I don't need to elaborate on its quality. It is extremely well-written and comprehensive, and seems to be about as unbiased an account as you can get on this topic (he is pretty clearly in favor of the more liberal contingents on both sides, but only out of an appreciation for rationality and the value of human life). Shipler's perception, empathy, and integrity as a journalist are obvious. He provides a look into a wide cross-section of Israeli and Palestinian history and society. This is not a vehicle for Shipler's political opinions or prescriptions - most of the text is interviews with actual Israelis and Palestinians, skillfully woven together. This may be the only time I've read about the Israeli-Arab conflict and felt I was truly getting all sides of the story.

This new edition provides updates on political developments and public opinion polls where appropriate, though most of the material is unchanged since the first edition (from 1986), since as Shipler says, most of the fundamentals are depressingly unchanged. The updates are always interesting, and if anything, I would have liked more of them (though on the other hand, I'm not sure I could have handled more than the almost-700 already very dense pages)

Throughout the book, both Jewish and Arab figures provoked sympathy, admiration, and horror. Though I have always thought of myself as a fairly liberal-minded Jew, it made me reevaluate many of my (often subconscious) beliefs. A warning: the book is long, dense, and rarely pleasant to read, and I wonder if the abundance of details might overwhelm a reader who doesn't have a background and personal stake in the conflict. But I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a fair-minded, deeply educational look at this topic.
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LibraryThing member AuntieClio
Shipler won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987 for this book. As hard as it was to read sometimes, it must have been harder to write. Shipler lived in Jerusalem with his family for five years and recounts his experiences with the prejudices and hatred that exist between Jews and Arabs. It’s not all
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racism though, he also tells of the encounters with people who were trying to make a difference and break through it all to prove to each other, and themselves, that underneath it all, we’re all human.
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LibraryThing member editfish
A comprehensive look at the longstanding tension between the Jews and the Arabs. Shipler exams the many facets of the conflict and cultural tensions that have plagued the region for such a long time. He takes a fair-minded stance and gives us a compassionate and humane look at the people themselves
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and the burdens that the conflict places upon them. The pace of the book is steady and keeps the reader engaged. The author cites a tremendous range of primary sources.

A great behind-the-scenes look at the complicated issues that prevent real movement toward reconciliation and peace.
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LibraryThing member foof2you
I found this book a great read if you have ever wondered why there are problems in the Middle East. I thought Shipler treated both sides fair and gives insight to an issue that keeps confounding political people. It makes one wonder if there is even a will by the leaders of both sides to solve a
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problem that neither side makes the moves to solve the issues.
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LibraryThing member Zoes_Human
I finish this book a more knowledgeable person, a person with more insight into not only this situation but of humanity. I'm also walking away with a stronger sense of gratitude than ever for the luxury of my life. I'd like to say that I ended it with hope, but that wouldn't quite be true. It's
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more a hope of having hope.

I feel as though I should say more about this magnificent 700 page volume, but my heart feels a bit bruised from reading it and I find that I have no more words.

I received a complimentary copy of the 2015 Revised and Updated version of this book via the Goodreads giveaway. Many thanks to all involved in providing me with this opportunity.
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LibraryThing member almigwin
This is a revision of an in-depth look at the feelings and beliefs of Jews and Arabs in 1986, before September 11th. It has been revised in 2002 and again in 2015. The occurrences that have changed some of the text are noted parenthetically or in footnotes.

The book is an attempt to get close to
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both Jews and Arabs by a journalist, attempting to be sympathetic to both sides although not to violence. The picture he paints is one of harshness and ill treatment by both. The two sides are shown to have a very poor knowledge of each other and trust has eroded rather than improved. It is a heartbreaking book for someone who had hoped for the two state solution.

The election of Hamas to control in Gaza, the growth of the Israeli right wing and the settler movement , the applause and rewards to suicide bombers , the refutation of the truth of the holocaust and the teaching of the need to kill the infidel, make peace seem impossible to achieve.

I recommend the book to everyone who thinks about Israel and/or the Palestinian cause. The writer is a journalist from the New York Times and he interviewed both Jews and Arabs. In anecdotes and narrative he paints a picture of the beliefs and feelings on both sides. As he was neither Jew nor Arab, I had confidence in his attempts to be objective and non-judgmental..
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081291273X / 9780812912739

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