Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Baruch Kimmerling, Joel S. Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History (2003)

Baruch Kimmerling, Joel S. Migdal, The Palestinian People: A History (2003)

Formats Available

This book is a very detailed and comprehensive history of the Palestinian people. The most comprehensive I have yet to come across. The authors have written a very objective history of these people from the early 19th century to the beginnings of the 21st century. It is this objectivity that makes this book such an important read. The authors begin in the early 19th century detailing these people's story from their encounters under the Ottoman Empire to their encounter with the Egyptian forces of Muhammad Ali into their first encounters with Zionism. The authors begin at this time to show readers that, while these people were still subjects of other powers, they still had a separate identity from those who ruled from far away. While the Palestinian identity was not solidified by any means, the identity of the people from this area was distinct. One of the fascinating things that this book really brought to light for me was just how instrumental the contact with Zionism was in forging and melding these people into a people. While there was a distinct culture, the people were varied and disparate depending on the differing locales. It took an encounter with a sophisticated philosophy backed by a highly motivated people to shake the Palestinians from there complacency and internecine fighting. Of course it is usually through such trials and tribulations that an identity is truly formed. Even more this book really helped me tie together much of the histories I have been reading. The bookstores are filled with histories of Zionism and the state of Israel, but it is somewhat difficult to find well written histories of the Palestinians. So I found this book to be a welcome respite from the Israeli or Western perspective. In writing solely from the Palestinian perspective this book has helped to balance my own perspective. This book has a very good break down of the accomplishments and failures of Oslo, and show the reader the how and why for the eventual breakdown of these negotiations. It is an objective account showing the reader that there is more than enough blame to go around. The authors also do a good job detailing the gaps between the two peoples. Whether it be Israel's need for security and lack of faith in the Palestinians desire or their leaders ability to give them that peace, or whether it is the Palestinians inability to trust Israel to be an honest broker and deliver on promises while they continue to build settlements and increase their hold on disputed territories, the basic, fundamental problem is lack of trust and transparency. Unfortunately both side's societies are now fractured, and lacking of a much needed trusted leadership. Whether it is Israel's inability to keep a government for more than a couple of years or the continued infighting, and near civil war, neither side seems poised to take the very hard steps to move forward for peace. Unfortunately if this book tells us anything it is the likelihood of much more violence and bloodshed. If you are looking to understand this conflict then this book is an essential part of that understanding. I highly recommend this powerful book.

No comments:

Post a Comment