Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Israel Since the Six-Day War: Tears of Joy, Tears of Sorrow by Leslie Stein

Leslie Stein presents a synthesis of source material that highlights the evolution of the state of Israel from the Six-Day War to the present.  There is a quick overview of the creation of Israel and the lead up to the Six-Day War, as well as an analysis on how and why it was a success.  In many ways Stein's narrative is quite objective in that there is no restraint when it comes to failed Israeli policies.  The failure of the Israeli intelligence to adequately forewarn the country on the eve of the Yom Kippur War is highlighted and detailed, with numerous personalities being singled out for harsh criticism.  Additionally, the author takes Sharon and the entire Israeli response to task for the massacre of civilians at two refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila, perpetrated by Phalangists with Israeli support and acquiescence.

Simultaneously, the double standards consistently utilized against Israel are also shown in regards to the United Nations.  In many ways Israel was a middle ground during the Cold War between the Soviet Union's support for Arab states and the French, British, and United States response to various Soviet moves in the Middle East.  This led to moments of support for Israel from France and the United States but hardly ever outright recognition of the position Middle Eastern states (Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, etc.) and the PLO has consistently put Israel in as they allowed numerous terrorist groups to form, attain weapons, and use their territory as staging grounds for attacks on Israeli territory against both civilian and military targets.  The post-Cold War analysis is just as interesting.  Stein presents numerous instances and examples of the double standards that are consistently evident when Israel is being dealt with by the likes of the UN and the world media.  The constant attempts by the Israelis to find a peaceful solution to the Palestinian question is a one-way street in which the Israelis offer and the Palestinians refuse.  Simply put, Israel in and of itself is the stumbling block to 'peace' for the Palestinians, yet in many ways Israel is the only thing keeping the peace in that area (just look at ISIS today).  If you're looking for a good semi-in-depth analysis of Israel since the Six-Day War this is an excellent contribution to the field and in many ways should be required reading.  There aren't any major disclosures or ground breaking discoveries, but in many ways I think casual readers of history and the Middle East will still be surprised by the complexity of the many issues we've come to view in simple Manichean terms and how thin a line Israel, her politicians and military have to walk as the world's media and judgment is constantly focused on her actions.

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