From Publishers Weekly
While holding out hope for a settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, this lively polemic carries on the fierce war of words over the conflict. Harvard Law professor Dershowitz, author of The Case For Israel, feels that, with Arafat's death and a new Palestinian leadership, prospects for peace have brightened. He endorses the "obvious" two-state solution suggested by Ehud Barak's ill-fated 2000 proposals and the recent non-governmental Geneva accords, involving Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and most of the West Bank (except for some large Jewish settlements), divided sovereignty over Jerusalem and some "recognition" of Palestinian refugees by Israel without an absolute "right of return." Dershowitz continues to back such controversial Israeli actions as the targeted assassination of suspected terrorists and the construction of the West Bank security wall, but acknowledges a common interest in peace which must be protected from extremists on both sides. He is less conciliatory toward outside supporters of the Palestinians, whom he accuses of opposing peace and seeking "the destruction of the Jewish State," citing everything from anti-Semitic ravings in the Arab press to Western academics who violate his 28-point guidelines for separating legitimate criticism of Israel from anti-Semitism. He particularly targets the "real and acknowledged" conspiracy of "anti-Israel, anti-peace, anti-truth zealots" Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn and Norman Finkelstein and offers a detailed rebuttal of Finkelstein's recent anti-Dershowitz broadside Beyond Chutzpah. In keeping with the vitriolic conventions of the debate-over-the-debate-over the Middle East, he bombards opponents with inflammatory charges based on sometimes tendentious readings of skimpily contextualized remarks; readers trying to substantiate them must often follow long trails of footnotes to other sources. Dershowitz presents his usual vigorous case, but not the judicious treatment these issues cry out for.
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* ALAN Dershowitz has a lovely vision of Middle East peace, imagining democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine prospering together.
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Harvard Law's celebrity professor advocates a two-state solution, creating Palestine out of the territories Israel won in the 1967 war. Dershowitz believes two viable states with secure borders and stable political cultures can emerge from one of the world's most troubled pieces of real estate.
Invoking history, justice, reason and the rule of law, he analyzes the problems, seeking mutually agreeable solutions. Yet, sadly, rather than showing, as the hopeful subtitle suggests, "How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved," this book makes a more convincing case that the conflict will continue.
Dershowitz once again proves in clear and readable prose that Israel is flexible, peace-seeking and ready to compromise, while offering little evidence that many Palestinian leaders are equally reasonable, courageous or committed to peace or democracy.
This short, punchy primer details just how virulent Palestinian rejectionism is--and has been for decades. Jewish and international compromises reach back to the Peel Commission in the 1930s, yet, again and again, Palestinians--and their cynical Arab allies--have preferred maximalist dreams to imperfect compromises.
Combining an appellate lawyer's precision with a courtroom showman's passion, Dershowitz examines how Yasser Arafat, among other destructive leaders, repeatedly turned Palestinians away from state-building, compromise and democracy, fostering an autocratic, demagogic, corrupt, delusional political culture addicted to terror.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir famously lamented that Arabs must love their own children more than they hate Israel's children for peace to flourish; now, Palestinians must become more committed to building a "democratic Palestinian state living in peace with a democratic Israel" than to destroying Israel.
Convinced that a pragmatic Palestinian majority can emerge, Dershowitz lambastes the academics, church leaders, diplomats, reporters and so-called "peace activists" who feed Palestinians' delusions and sanction violence by demonizing Israel, no matter what it does.
Dershowitz and others advocating for a rational peace should challenge the West's armchair jihadists for rationalizing Palestinian terrorism, robbing Palestinians and Jews of hope. And it is noble for intellectuals defending Israel's legitimacy to dream of a possible compromise.
Dershowitz mischievously confounds critics by insisting that, while ardently pro-Israel, he remains liberal and "pro-Palestinian." But while occasionally mentioning a "peace process" and praising the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Dershowitz fails to identify that Palestinian peace camp essential to creating a new, stable Middle East.
This book assumes that Israel disengaged from Gaza successfully. But Israel withdrew unilaterally because there was no credible negotiating partner, had to build a fence because Palestinian terrorists continue to target Israeli civilians and even uprooted Jewish gravesites because of justified fears that Hamas activists would desecrate the corpses.
Dershowitz's vision of peace will only work if Palestinians pass a simple test. Unless and until, Jews--and Jewish graves--can remain undisturbed on land ceded to the Palestinians, no peace is possible.
--Gil Troy, a professor of history at McGill University, is the author of "Why I'm a Zionist." (The New York Post, August 28, 2005)