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The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can be Resolved Paperback – Aug 1 2006

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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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


* ALAN Dershowitz has a lovely vision of Middle East peace, imagining democratic Israel and a democratic Palestine prospering together.
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)
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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76 of 104 people found the following review helpful
Strong and Persuasive Aug. 29 2005
By B. Beck - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I read The Case for Peace by Alan Dershowitz with great interest. Although I am basically an optimist, I have been lately quite pessimistic about the opportunities for peace in the Arab Israel conflict. There are so many obstacles to peace and so many players that the possibility of peace seemed to be remote, at best.

But Dershowitz, in a methodical analytic way approaches each of the pitfalls that I had considered and presents the consistent message that peace is possible.

This is not a pie in the sky book of dreams. It is rather a hard hitting, at times argumentative, but always convincing case for peace. The aspect of the book that I found most convincing was its avoidance of calling on the various parties to exercise "good will". The time for good will has long passed and now is the time when only hard nosed negotiation can bring about lasting peace.

Dershowitz rightfully points out that this final war for peace will be slow and painful for both sides. He predicts that terrorist attacks will continue after the peace is declared and that the parties must avoid, at all costs, the resumption of the "cycle of violence" that has been the hallmark of the intifada.

The second part of the book, entitled "Overcoming the Hatred Barriers to Peace" makes this book necessary reading for the opponents of peace throughout the world on both sides of the issue. Sadly, because Dershowitz has been such a vocal advocate for Israel and for a lasting and just peace between Israel and its neighbors, he has become the target of too many personal attacks. These attacks and his necessary defense reach a climax in his passionate call to the reader to "Marginalize and confront those who persist in their hate speech even while Israel and the Palestinians move toward peace."
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Alan Dershowitz's Case for Peace is best when in keeping with its subtitle Nov. 16 2014
By Billie Pritchett - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Alan Dershowitz's Case for Peace is best when in keeping with its subtitle: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved. The optimal solution the book proposes is that Israelis and Palestinians agree to a two-state solution where most or all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip are declared Palestine, and this land is made contiguous by some sort of railway/subway line that connects the two territories, part of which would run through Israel. On this plan, Jerusalem would be a shared city. Although I think the plan is novel, I don't imagine everyone will ultimately accept this or any two-state solution in fact, but I hope that is just my lack of imagination.

What I did not like about the book is that a large proportion of it is devoted to a rebuttal to critics of his previous book, The Case for Israel, in which Dershowitz defends himself from accusations of plagiarism, poorly-cited material, and other textual matters. I understand his desire to defend himself, but I don't think this was the book for it. Also, since the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is such a charged issue, these sections of the book actually made me more suspect that Dershowitz is in fact more partisan and less transparent than he presents himself, which is probably the exact opposite consequence he would want from people reading his book.
17 of 26 people found the following review helpful
A pro- Israeli and pro- Palestinian peace proposal Oct. 5 2005
By Shalom Freedman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For a previous book , "The Case for Israel" Alan Dershowitz has been attacked and libeled by the radical left, who accuse of him being a warmongering chauvinist . In this book he presents a clearly argued refutation of this personal charge against him by outlining a peace plan for the Israeli- Palestinian conflict which in his words is both pro- Israeli and pro- Palestinian.

Essentially he adopts the two- state position of what in Israel has long been called the ` peace- camp'. It is pretty much the Peres- Beilin plan in which Israel cedes most of the West Bank ( Judaea and Samaria) and Gaza, and in return receives an end to Palestinian terror and violence, and complete international recognition of its legitimacy.

In the first part of the book, ` Overcoming the Geopolitical Barriers to Peace' Dershowitz presents the heart of his plan, and answers questions as to possible difficulties with it. The final goal is two states with secure and recognized borders, an end to violence, and end to all claims each side has on the other. In the course of this he indicates that claims which have long been neglected by the world, such as that of Jews expelled from Arab lands must also be taken into account. He indicates that one of the great sticking points, the question of Palestinian Arab refugee return must be solved within the framework of the Palestinian Arab state. He also answers objections to the critics who claim such a state would not be viable. He too criticizes what he calls `extremists' of both sides who would reject all compromise. But he makes it clear that there is a great assymetry here in that the Jewish extremists are on the margin of Israeli society, while Palestinian extremism and rejectionism is the present commanding position within the society.

In this regard Dershowitz has no illusion as to what has been the major reason peace has not been made to now. Palestinianian rejectionism of the Peel Commission report in 1937 which would have given them eighty percent of the land West of the Jordan, their rejection of the UN partition plan of 1947 , their rejection of post -1967 peace plan, their rejection most recently in 2000 of the Israeli ( Barak) and US (Clinton) plan which would have given them ninety- seven percent of the West Bank, the control over the Temple Mount, and control over East Jerusalem has prevented peace from coming earlier. The basic Palestinian Arab rejection of any Jewish sovereignty in the Holy Land is what has made the conflict persist.

One source of hope for Dershowitz is the belief that with Arafat's passing a new and more realistic Palestinian leadership will emerge which will opt for the realistic benefit of its people, and not a demagogic vain hope of destroying Israel. Dershowitz seems optimistic that the Palestinians can take a new tack. And while this book was published before the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza he probably believes this an encouraging sign( However one- sided) for peace.

In the second section of the book `Overcoming the Hatred Barriers to Peace' Dershowitz briefly but convincingly makes a case for the idea that outside forces which presumably aim to help the Palestinians have caused them tremendous damage. These forces whether the U.N or a certain element of the media and academic world have by demonizing Israel and justifying Palestinian violence encouraged the Palestinians to believe that they need never be responsible and compromise. Deshowitz has his own score with the Evil - Three of Hate- Israel propaganda Chomsky- Cockburn- Finklestein and makes a brief but effective skowering of their being more Palestinian than the Palestinians , in promoting hate of Israel.

In this regard one central element Dershowitz claims in any peace - agreement must be the end to the demonization of Israel. And this of course especially by the Palestinian ,Arab and Islamic media for whom it is a major source for distracting their readers from real domestic woes.

As for the nuts and bolts of Dershowitz's plan and its realistic possibilities I have my reservations. He does make a very convincing argument that a ` one- state solution' is impossible, a clear cover for the destruction of Israel by demographic means. But my sense is that he does not go fully enough into the dangers of the ` two- state solution.' And my sense is that he is very over- optimistic about a Palestinian transformation towards acceptance of Israel.

Yet on the whole I believe his effort is a truly positive and fair one, that aims at providing benefit to both peoples.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Very good ideas Dec 15 2012
By Aron Mueller - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The ideas put forward in this book are a great contribution to thinking in the direction of peace. However, the practical is too dominant over the ideological so that even someone from either side who is interested in peace could feel wronged by the fact that his ideological basis has not been legitimized enough. Also the length of the book impedes a better integration of its theme.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Is it the case that in negotiations "something" is Always better than "nothing?" March 17 2012
By Herbert L Calhoun - Published on
Format: Paperback
This author gets three stars and an "A" for effort here if and only if it is the case that "something" is always better than "nothing?" However, I believe it is precisely this one case -- of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- where this rule simply does not hold.

As one who spent two decades in the UN dealing with international issues of war and peace, it is clear that certain fundamental rules of international power politics cannot be violated, skirted or ignored. The first rule, as others have remarked about in their critiques of the author's proposal (the ones that appear as the last Chapter, chapter Seven called "The skeptic's Corner"): the impetus for such a proposal MUST come from the parties themselves. The reason this must be a prerequisite is because, however uncomfortable it may be to the parties involved, and however precarious to international and regional security and relations, the status quo represents a stable state of existence for both parties. It is a "saddle point" that requires committed energy to move away from in either direction. If it were not a saddle point, then one or both parties would be doing something to alter it? Being a sovereign nation by definition means having the right to make decisions about changing the status quo.

These parties have burned up a generation spending almost all of their negative and destructive energy, to no avail. Israel has put itself in an advantageous power position where it undoubtedly thinks its position will hold forever, but everyone but Israel knows that time is not on Israel's side. The Palestinians, on the other hand, have lost everything and have nothing else to lose. This makes them a dangerous and very much demeaned adversary, and moreover, they know as well as the rest of the world that time is on their side.

Thus any proposal with a chance of success must begin by addressing these and the other realities underlying the conflict. To wit, on the Israeli side, they want a Jewish state in order to safeguard against another holocaust. Does this not preclude the prospect of ever integrating with non-Jews into a blended non-racial or mixed-race state? On the Palestinian side, they want their land back and the freedoms and dignity that goes with it. What will they do to change the status quo to get it? Tack on to this very intractable tableau the fact that there is a most profound asymmetry in power between the two actors and we get to a bottom line realty that operates deeply within the consciousness of the respective nationals. The idea of a confederation attempts to raise the Palestinian to equality by fiat. It won't work.

Now we must ask an important question: Does advancing a proposal that ignores the root realities at the same time that it exacerbates the nationalist tendencies of these actors seem like it will lead to a reasonable solution? Not by my way of thinking. To ignore, or try to side step these realities is, at worse, to insult the intelligence and ignore the deep emotional investments of both sides; and at best it is to try to solve the underlying difficulties (that the proposal asks both sides to ignore) by fiat.

Yes, there may be some useful spin-off or collateral benefits from having representatives from the two half-nations sitting side by side and going through the motions of collaboration as little more than a pseudo-confederation. But it is almost the same as we used to do when I was a U.S. delegate to NATO, sitting across the table from my WARSAW pact counterparts. We all recited our formulaic talking point by heart, at the same time that we worked the daily crossword puzzles. There were literary thousands of proposals that passed through our respective delegations and literarly thousands of days when absolutely nothing happened: That is, until our respective political authorities were ready for it to happen. And then it happened over night -- and not necessarily with any of the best available proposals

A better example that always seems to have a chance at success, can be seen in President Jimmy Carter's style of negotiating -- a kind of modified shuttle diplomacy in which he outlined on his laptop at home all of the fundamental differences; approached each side separately, always addressing the key underlying issues but proposing side benefits that would entice each side to see it in its own interest to get into the game. Whenever a party got in the game, he was already "vested" in working towards a solution.

Tricky formulations that veer away from underlying realities may have a lot of sex appeal but do not solve the problem of having a side invested in the solution, nor do they guarantee any change in the status quo. Sooner rather than later the trick will be discovered and the players will want to get back to the underlying realities. This is truly a case when "something" may not necessarily beat "nothing."

I still believe that President Carter's style of modified shuttle diplomacy is a better option than a proposed pseudo-Confederation. Once it sinks in to Israel that its asymmetrical power advantages will not bring it peace in the long run; and the Palestinians discover that neither will terror; and then when both sides decide to elect leaders bend on peace rather than on nationalistic chest-beating, a beautiful proposal will emerge and it will work the first time. I will bet my house on it. Three stars.