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Hardcover The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977 Book

ISBN: 080507564X

ISBN13: 9780805075649

The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

The untold story, based on groundbreaking original research, of the actions and inactions that created the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories After Israeli troops defeated the armies of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan in June 1967, the Jewish state seemed to have reached the pinnacle of success. But far from being a happy ending, the Six-Day War proved to be the opening act of a complex political drama, in which the central issue became: Should...

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Asia Europe History Israel Middle East

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Full, in depth, information

The Accidental Empire is a wide ranging book, but a wonderfully focused and well researched account aftermath of the Six Days War, the capture of the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. TAE appears to be a wider treatment of Gorenberg's far less successful (though very interesting) first book, The End of Days, about the growing power of religious Zionists. Instead of focusing on the Temple Mount, TAE provides an account of the religious settlement movement, primarily Gush Emunim, and their attempts to create illegal settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Perhaps the strongest point of the book is how muddled the thinking of the Labor leadership was about the new settlements. As aging revolutionaries, they were still wedded to the idea that settlements meant security; that creating facts on the land would lead to a more secure Israel. But they were equally drawn to the idea that land was a negotiating chip with surrounding Arab states. The pull between both impulses led to a sustained paralysis.

Adds much to a better understanding of the historical context of the current strife in the West Ban

It is essential in reading this book, and perhaps more significantly in reading reviews of this book, to separate the views of religious expansionists from those of the secular government and of by far the highest portion of the population of Israel throughout its existence regarding the settlements. It is also important to compare the strong emotional, almost messianic, attachment to the land of Samaria and Judea felt and espoused by the settlers with the need of the government to "create facts" on the land that supposedly distinguished its own internal legal opinions, and those of most of the rest of the world, regarding the "legality" of the settlements. Whatever personal views you may have on these and other core issues raised by Gorenberg's thoroughly researched, well documented and extensively footnoted work, his dispassionate, well written report of the events is an invaluable reference work that helps define the significance of the settlements as contributing to Middle East unrest. Moreover, Gorenberg's fascinating report of the inner workings of the Eshkol, Meir and Rabin cabinets, and the arrogant disregard of official government policy by cabinet members who represented a small but powerful portion of the population, provide insight into the intrigues that seemingly drive many national decisions in Israel because of the need to form coalition governments that direct the policies of the country.

What a superb contribution to understanding what happened and why!

This is a meticulously researched, penetrating and fluidly written analysis of a decade of decision by indecision that is at the heart of today's Israeli-Palestinian conundrum. An adherent of Carlyle's dictum that history is biography, Gorenberg's description of the "players" in middle eastern politics is fascinating. But due respect is also paid to Tuchman's acknowledgement that historical forces have an imperative of their own. This somewhat revisionist history is indispensable reading for anyone wishing to understand how what happened, happened. If I could have read only one book on the middle east published in the last decade, this would be it. Sidney Bernstein Retired publisher, Harcourt Brace Professional Publishing

Elegeic, Poignant, and a Juicy Read

I found this book to be a page-turner, a fascinating look back at a time that clearly cannot be adequately understood according to the orthodoxies of the contemporary left and right. Instead, Gorenberg takes the reader back to a transitional time in which the participants were simply overwhelmed by the events of history. The writing is vivid, to the extent to which the reader might feel that he or she is walking around in the bodies of the participants. Figures such as Levi Eshkol, Moshe Dayan and Golda Meir will be illuminated for he reader as never before. At the same time, one sees the set being staged for the inevitable contemporary impasse in the Middle East. The book is a trip back to an altogether more innocent world, and yet serves as a dystopian "Oh Jerusalem." In all, this is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the events of the coming year, in which the settlement policy will come to a head. It is also a beautiful and slightly sad trip back to a simpler and more innocent Israel, and those who love that society would be well served to make that journey.

Original and neccesary

The Israeli settlements have never been given a history of their own, rather they have been part of the polemic of 'conflict'. Leftists, liberals, Islamists, kahanists, all of them have talked about the settlements, but no one has bothered to explain them by themselves, which is what the world of academia and those interested in Israel have needed all this time. Finally this history, which tragically covers only the first ten years of 'occupation' in an immense 480 pages finally does justice to the settlements. The settlements were not some vast worldwide Jewish conspiracy, as the left of Europe claims, but rather they were some sort of mistake, accident and convoluted plan, facts on the ground without planning or logic. Some were religious, other secular. Some were built on ground already owned by Jews before 1948, such as Gush Etsion and Kfar Darom they were merely reclaimed, whereas some were built on 'crown lands' or government land and thus on 'stolen land'. Some were purely for religious reasons such as Kiryat Arba, some for strategy, some to stop infiltration(such as the Jordan valley), some to establish facts. This is a brilliant and insightful book by an author who actually knows Israeli and Zionist policies and has real insights into the personalities of the men involved from Dayan to Allon and others. This is not the typical "Israeli greed for others land caused the settlements" that pretends the settlements were established in some logic by all of Israel and with a clear conspiratorial policy, rather this is a fair account that tells the real, honest, history behind what happened. A wonderful contribution. Seth J. Frantzman
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