Well, my book will be officially published in little over a week, on July 9! The entire first chapter of Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict can be read for free.
Now here’s what someone else has to say about it…
Review of Chapter 1: The Rise of Hamas in Gaza
by Eugene Shulman
Not long ago I became acquainted with Jeremy R. Hammond, the author of a new book on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. I had logged onto his website and read his plug for this book, entitled “Obstacle to Peace: The U.S. Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. The title intrigued me because I had recently read Rashid Khalidi’s “Brokers of Deceit: How the US has Undermined Peace in the Middle East”. So I wrote to Hammond asking if his book adds anything new to the subject that Khalidi may not have covered. He kindly replied with a rather long essay explaining how his book differs from Khalidi’s, and why what he has to say is important. [Read my reply he’s referring to below! – JRH] When I asked if his book was yet available, he told me it was in the process of being edited for publication. Meanwhile, he could send me a PDF of the first chapter if I was interested. I have just finished reading it, consisting of forty pages, including ten of very detailed notes.
This first chapter tells the story of the rise of Hamas as a major force in Gaza. Hamas was formed as a split-off from the Palestine Liberation Organization, critical of it under the leadership of Yasser Arafat. In this first chapter, Hammond explains this split and describes how Hamas grew as a force; how it won the democratic election for leadership of Palestine in the occupied territories; the conflict with Fatah under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas.
We learn the aftermath of the 1967 War, when territories captured and occupied by Israel were supposed to be returned to the subjugation of administration by Jordan and Egypt [It was initially assumed this would be the case, but the international consensus quickly evolved to embrace the right of Palestinians to self-determination and a state of their own – JRH], but continued to be occupied by Israel forces contrary to many UN resolutions.
An important part of this chapter, which many followers of this conflict may be unaware is the description of U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 which developed from Great Britain’s attempt to extract itself from the conflict.
From there, Hammond goes on to describe how Israel ended up with the majority of the land while being the minority of the population in the mandated area. Though the General Assembly had recommended two states, only Israel succeeded in becoming a state, while Palestine remains an occupied territory.
There is so much documented detail crammed into the pages of this first chapter, that it would be difficult to review everything without repeating it verbatim. It is an overview of the conflict leading up to the commencement of “Operation Cast Lead”.
I have read many books about the Israel-Palestinian conflict, but none that supplies so much information so objectively, laying certain blame on all parties, while remaining above monocausal accusations. Hammond’s is a book that, assuming the rest is as informative and well written as this first chapter, will be a must read for those who want to understand the many causes for, and inability to solve this continuing dispute.
Watch for it!
So here’s that email Gene was referring to regarding Khalidi’s book:
Yes, Obstacle to Peace provides a great deal more information about the US role as the primary obstacle to peace than Khalidi’s book.
Actually, Khalidi propagates at least one of the misconceptions I clear up in my book: that Obama early in office demanded a halt to Israeli settlement construction as a precondition to negotiations. It is unfortunate that Khalidi repeats this common claim, as it is false, as I document in my book.
Otherwise, along similar lines, Khalidi also echoes a standard refrain that Obama sought to play a “tougher” role towards Israel but was hampered from doing so by the Republicans, the Israeli lobby, etc. I illustrate how this, too, is a misconception.
He asserts that Obama put forth the 1967 lines with “minor” modifications to the border as the starting point for negotiations, but actually, Obama did not specify the extent of the modifications and explicitly endorsed that Israel would annex major settlements (he also explicitly endorsed Israel’s illegal annexation of E. Jerusalem).
So there are issues like these, common falsehoods and misunderstandings about the Obama administration’s role, that I clear up in my book.
Apart from that, I found Khalidi’s book to be very good. I would say his book and mine are complimentary. He goes into some stuff that I don’t, and vice versa.
His book briefly covers US policy since 1948 while mine focuses particularly on US policy under Bush and Obama (actually, I consciously picked up where Noam Chomsky left off in the updated edition of Fateful Triangle).
I go into much more detail about more contemporary events, focusing on 2008-the present. I have an entire chapter dedicated to “Operation Cast Lead”, for example, as well as extensive discussion of events leading up to it and its aftermath, whereas Khalidi only briefly mentions it.
Another example: Khalidi mentions the role of the media mostly in passing, while I focus on heavily on it with numerous illustrations of how it plays an active role in preventing peace by misinforming the public and manufacturing consent for US policy.
Another difference is that I focus a great deal on addressing arguments made by Israel’s apologists, completely dissecting them and providing the reader with the information needed to counter them. I very much intend it as a resource for activists in this regard.
It is very comprehensive, much more so than Khalidi’s book. To help give you another idea, Khalidi’s book is relatively short, barely over 200 pages. Obstacle to Peace is well over 500 pages. He has less than 300 notes. Mine has well over 1,000. It is exhaustively documented. Every single statement is backed by solid sources, with active links (for the electronic version) for readers to access to have as a resource (for those who have the print version, I’ll be putting all the endnotes online at the book’s website so they can easily have access to the links, too), to verify information for themselves, or to further their own research.