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.
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.
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
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
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.
A great behind-the-scenes look at the complicated issues that prevent real movement toward reconciliation and peace.
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.
The book is an attempt to get close to
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..