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Palestine Betrayed [Paperback]

Efraim Karsh
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Book Description

April 26 2011

The 1947 UN resolution to partition Palestine irrevocably changed the political landscape of the Middle East, giving rise to six full-fledged wars between Arabs and Jews, countless armed clashes, blockades, and terrorism, as well as a profound shattering of Palestinian Arab society. Its origins, and that of the wider Arab-Israeli conflict, are deeply rooted in Jewish-Arab confrontation and appropriation in Palestine. But the isolated occasions of violence during the British Mandate era (1920–48) suggest that the majority of Palestinian Arabs yearned to live and thrive under peaceful coexistence with the evolving Jewish national enterprise. So what was the real cause of the breakdown in relations between the two communities?

In this brave and groundbreaking book, Efraim Karsh tells the story from both the Arab and Jewish perspectives. He argues that from the early 1920s onward, a corrupt and extremist leadership worked toward eliminating the Jewish national revival and protecting its own interests. Karsh has mined many of the Western, Soviet, UN, and Israeli documents declassified over the past decade, as well as unfamiliar Arab sources, to reveal what happened behind the scenes on both Palestinian and Jewish sides. It is an arresting story of delicate political and diplomatic maneuvering by leading figures—Ben Gurion, Hajj Amin Husseini, Abdel Rahman Azzam, King Abdullah, Bevin, and Truman —over the years leading up to partition, through the slide to war and its enduring consequences. Palestine Betrayed is vital reading for understanding the origin of disputes that remain crucial today.

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"'Ephraim Karsh's Palestine Betrayed tells in rich detail the story of the fall of the British Mandate and the rise of Israel, going a long way towards doing justice to the history at hand.' (Seth Frantzman, Jerusalem Post) 'A thoroughly researched, sound historical account of the struggles that ensued between the Jewish and Arab communities when the British decided to leave Palestine.' (Sol Schindler, Washington Times)"

About the Author

Efraim Karsh is professor and head of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Programme, King's College London. His books include Islamic Imperialism: A History; The Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Palestine War, 1948; Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography; and Empires of the Sand: The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East, 1789-1923. He lives in London.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Factual Background Aug. 16 2012
By Mike
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Author presents an academic review of third-party documents. In any other area on almost any other subject, the picture painted by the facts would be considered self-evident.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Betrayal from Within June 15 2010
Palestine Betrayed is an excellent in-depth study of the intrigues and personal agendas [of divers Arab politicos] against not just the formation of the state of Israel, but also against the ambitions of competing Arab entities.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  32 reviews
209 of 248 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blows the 'new historians' completely out of the water. April 12 2010
By M. D Roberts - Published on
Replete with references the Professor & Head of the Middle East and Mediterranean Studies Programme at Kings College, London has provided an excellent, detailed, objective analysis of both the origins as well as the history surrounding the Arab-Israeli conflict.

In my own opinion this authoritative, timely and well written study is destined to become a classic in relation to this contentious subject. Those who have already embraced the revisionist history of the 'new historians' will probably want to give it a miss as the detail and depth of this work tends to blow their case completely out of the water.

Citing many documents which have been declassified over the past decade, both the Arab and Jewish perspectives of this conflict are addressed from the very start. The political/diplomatic manoeuvering of many prominent individuals on both sides and in the international arena are all given due reference.

Recent declassification of millions of documents from the era surrounding the British Mandate are shown to have been ignored or distorted by the 'new historians' in order to paint a picture that the author claims 'is completely at odds with the anti Israel caricature that is so often the order of the day'.

This compelling investigation makes it clear to the reader that Israel is being robbed of its political, historic and geographic legitimacy, whilst being made to appear to rob the Palestinians of the nation it never had.

At the outset the author draws attention to the differing positions of the then Jewish and Arab leadership leading up to the 1947 UN resolution calling for the partition of 'Palestine' into two independent states - Arab and Jewish - plus the internationalisation of Jerusalem.

From the easily readable text the reader can assess how the Jewish leadership openly accepted the detailed UN plans for parition while the Arab side utterly rejected any such plan and showed that compliance with any UN resolution was of no consequence as they declared all out war with the declared intention of eradicating the reborn Jewish state. Full quotes and detailed references from both sides are provided for the reader's attention.

The book reveals in no uncertain terms that if the Palestinian Arabs and the neighbouring Arab states had accepted the UN resolution there would have been no war and no dislocation of a single Arab refugee. The simple reason being that the Zionist movement was amenable to the co-existence with the Palestinian Arabs and a 2 state solution even at that time. The Arab world choosing to instead wage a war of annihilation.

Citing how such reality was to become erased form public memory by decades of relentless pro-Arab propaganda, the writer clarifies that it is to reclaim this and other historical truths that this book has been written.

A whole plethora of issues are addressed including those of a Zionist and Pan Arab perspective covering many decades prior to, and culminating in, the above. The role of the British and the Mandate is studied in some detail revealing much of the alleged British appeasement of the Arab world and it's 'White Paper' restricting Jewish immigration to Palestine while Jews were fleeing the persecution and slaughter within Europe during the rule of Hitler. References revealing how, while Jews were severely restricted and hampering from entering their ancient homeland, no such restrictions were placed upon Arabs entering/settling in 'Palestine' from their neighbouring Arab states.

Having studied the Balfour Declaration one aspect of alleged British appeasement of the Arab world that also receives attention is the British severing of a vast percentage of 'Palestine' east of the Jordan River from the prospective Jewish homeland to create the new Arab nation of Transjordan under the newly appointed Arab leadership of Emir Abdullah ibn Hussein.

Even what remained of 'Palestine' being targeted for division with the 'Palestinian' Arabs. Quotes and references showing that pan-Arabism viewed the 'Palestinians' not as a distinct people deserving statehood but as 'an integral part of a single Arab nation' which was bound by the common ties of language and religion etc.. The Jewish homeland eventually constituing less than 11 per cent of what was originally hoped for. The study's contents reiterating that even this was too much for the Arab world which rejected 'parition' and declared war to obtain it all.

Indeed from the historic details provided the reader is left with the unassailable deduction that the Arab grievance is not with the borders of Israel but with its very existence. Referring to the 'peace process' of the present day the book claims that, despite their vastly different personalities and political modus operandi, Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas are "warp and woof of the same fabric". Both being shown from the text to be PLO veterans who have never "eschewed their commitment to Israel's destruction".

While many believe that the reason for the continuous state of war between Israel and the Arabs is because Israel is allegedly 'occupying Arab land' the study shows how through endless repetition, the engraving upon people's minds of this line of political propaganda has deceived the populace from the fundamental truths behind this conflict. It clearly being shown that the Arabs were making war against Israel even when the Arabs held the land and that is how they came to lose it in the first place.

Individual readers must make up their own minds upon the many aspects of this investigation, some aspects of which may be seen as controversial by some. However, I have no hesitation to recommending this work to anyone remotely interested in the Middle East conflicts.
87 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meticulous May 5 2010
By Leila Ahmad - Published on
This book is scrupulously researched and elegantly written to a fault. Nobody can say Karsh doesn't have an axe to grind (the New Historians are certainly not among his favorite cohorts.) At the same time, no honest reader of the Middle East can claim that this book does not marshal a wealth of sources and archives that put the New Historians' "history driven by ideology" to shame. It is high time Middle East scholars recognized--as does Karsh--that the dispossession of the Palestinians was and remains a shared responsibility.
51 of 63 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and Meticulous May 18 2010
By S. Berman - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is packed with historical details suppported by numerous footnotes. It makes the case for the view that Israeli has scrupulously adhered to international legal norms and well established ethical principles in establishing herself as a nation and in subsequently defending herself. After reading this book it is hard for me to accept the notion that Israel is "occupying" Palestinian and/or Arab lands. It is also hard to accept the idea that Israel is responsible for the plight of the Palestinians. The Palestinians are in their present condition because the Arab governments have chosen to keep them there as a pretext for continuing to attack Israel.

Of course, I do not have the background or the time to dig into the details myself. I can marvel at the references but I have no way to get them all and read them for myself. So if someone else says this book is merely pro-Israeli propoganda, I have no foolproof way of showing that it is not. The case the book makes is generally consistent with what I have found myself in my limited readings. But, of course, those have been selective. All I can say is that the book's statement have the "ring of truth" to my ear. But it would be interesting to hear what specialists in this area might say. I am sure that some would disagree with many of his conclusions.
85 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The only thing on his side is - the facts - May 7 2010
By bookreader - Published on
Karsh stands seemingly alone against the screaming crowds. What stands with him in his lonely battle against the rewriting of history is the truth. His broad knowledge of the irrefutable first hand sources lifts the veil of lies for anyone who cares enough to know the what really happened.

Those whose agenda precedes their interest in the truth will find a way to brush off Karsh's book(s) by engaging in derision & insults rather than factual debate.

But for those who are stymied by the onslaught of the populist press there is great comfort in being re-assured of the truth of justice of Israel's way.
33 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! May 24 2010
By MSB - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book presents the facts very straightforwardly about how and why Palestinians decided their own destiny and bear near-total responsibility for becoming refugees. Read Palestine Betrayed and you'll understand how revisionist propaganda is nothing more than varnished mis-truths not worthy of anyone's attention.
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