About a month ago I vowed to contribute more postings to the Middle East Reading Challenge. After a short blogging hiatus, I’m please to announce my return to the blogosphere with my thoughts and impressions of The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Global Viewpoints. Published in 2012 by the good people of Greenhaven Press, just like the other books in their Global Viewpoints, Opposing Viewpoints and Current Controversies series, each chapter is devoted to a specific topic or controversy. This particular offering from Greenhaven Press contains the following chapters:
- Regional Issues and the Arab-Israeli Conflict
- Israel and the Gaza Strip
- Israel and the West Bank
- International Involvement in the Arab-Israeli Conflict
As before, the various opinion pieces and the like comprising each chapter come from a variety of sources. Thankfully, this time around it seems almost all of those pieces come from established sources like newspapers, periodicals and professional journals as opposed to websites of dubious distinction. To me this is important because as we rapidly move into a new digital age, we are increasingly bombarded by highly partisan and bogus information. With all that in mind, it looks like sources used for this book pass the eye test. While nothing in The Arab-Israeli Conflict: Global Viewpoints rocked my world, a few of the selected viewpoints made for enjoyable reading. Erich Follath and Holger Stark’s article from Der Spiegel on Israel’s 2007 airstrike on Syria’s nuclear facility might have been favorite piece of the book. (By the way, for those wanting to learn more about the Israeli raid, I’d recommend Bar-Zohal and Mishal’s The Mossad: Israel’s Secret Intelligence Service: Inside Stories.) Robert Mabro’s essay from The Harvard International Business Review on the history and hazards of international oil embargoes might have been a close second. As always with anthologies like these, the more nuanced and well-reasoned selections I enjoyed the most. On the other hand, those that side-stepped important issues, contained questionable claims or were highly polemical I tended not to enjoy as much.
It’s important for me to remember that books like these from Greenhaven Press are produced mainly for high school classrooms and libraries. Since they’re designed to be entry-level texts, I must keep my expectations modest when judging them. Therefore, if one is looking for a an introduction into the Arab-Israeli conflict, this book isn’t a bad place to start.