Israelis and Palestinians

Why Do They Fight? Can They Stop? Third Edition

Bernard Wasserstein

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May 28, 2008
240 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
ISBN: 9780300137644

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Israelis and Palestinians offers a startlingly new interpretation of the historical and contemporary realities of the conflict in the Middle East. Bernard Wasserstein challenges the conventional view of the struggle as driven primarily by irrational ethnic and religious hatreds. Instead he focuses on largely neglected forces—including population, fertility rates, labor, and environmental pressures—that have shaped politics in the region over the last century, and which will inevitably determine its future.
Wasserstein argues that Israelis and Palestinians live today in “Siamese twin societies”; however much they may wish to, neither side can escape the impinging presence and influence of the other. Demographic, economic, and social imperatives are driving Israelis and Palestinians toward mutual accommodation. At a time of diplomatic impasse and escalating bloodshed, Wasserstein offers a realistic and persuasive basis for optimism.

BERNARD WASSERSTEIN is Harriet and Ulrich E. Meyer Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He is the author of many books, including The Secret Lives of Trebitsch Lincoln and Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City, both published by Yale University Press. His most recent book is Barbarism and Civilization: A History of Europe in Our Time.

“A powerful and fairly objective discussion of the factors that create conflict among Israelis and Palestinians and yet pull them together within the same territory. . . . Highly recommended.”—Choice

“Wasserstein’s readable text is a solid primer on Israelis and Palestinians for experts and neophytes, characterized by a hardheaded realism that is fair to both sides.”—L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs

“Highly readable. . . . Wasserstein is not the first to deal with the demographic, socio-economic, environmental and territorial dimensions of the Palestinian-Israeli struggle, but nowhere else is such a multi-dimensional analysis set out so clearly. For those wishing to better understand the Israeli-Palestinian war this is a mandatory book. Highly recommended.”—Ahron Bregman, International Affairs

"If a philosopher-king could solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Bernard Wasserstein, professor of history at Glasgow University and old Middle East hand, would get my vote. His latest tract, reasoned and balanced, makes a compelling case that demographic, socio-economic, environmental and territorial imperatives must eventually bring Israelis and Palestinians to a peaceful resolution."—Eric Silver, Jewish Chronicle

“In this short and elegant essay, [Wasserstein] slips in a good deal of history. . . . In his view, Israelis and Palestinians are fighting for definable interests and identifiable goals. Yet neither of them is paying proper attention to larger developments which are outside their control but are nonetheless impelling the outcome of events towards a happy ending. . . . This essay’s aspiration for peace is genuine. The rationality of the arguments is impressive.”—David Pryce-Jones, Sunday Times (London)

"Readers who care about the [Israeli-Palestinian] conflict should not overlook Bernard Wasserstein’s lucid attempt to look at it from some unusual angles. . . . Newcomers more interested in scholarship than celebrity would do well to consider the historian Bernard Wasserstein’s fine overview. . . . A helpful and original introduction to the conflict."—Warren Bass, Washington Post Book World

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Divided Jerusalem
The Struggle for the Holy City, Third Edition

Bernard Wasserstein

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