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Review: Israel/Palestine

Polity Press, 2017. 328 pp.
To many, the Israel/Palestine conflict is hairy and complicated, yet it often appears in modern news. Explanations can often be complex and biased, especially with such a charged political situation. The solution is found in Middle Eastern scholar Alan Dowty's Israel/Palestine (Polity Press, 2017). Now in its fourth edition, Israel/Palestine is an excellent primer to the conflict. Dowty begins by dispelling myths of the issue, including that it is centuries-old or based on religious differences. Dowty insists that the roots of the Israel/Palestine conflict are recent and are geopolitical in nature, a conflict over land. After providing a background to both the Jewish and Arab perspectives (a brief "story" on how they came to their current mindsets), Dowty chronologically moves through the significant events in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and notes its effects on Jews, Arabs, and the narrative as a whole. By placing the conflict within a historical—rather than religious—context, Dowty explains the origins and developments of both sides.

Dowty assumes little to no knowledge of the issue, and he explains events and perspectives clearly and objectively. Dowty's balanced opinion is respectable, leaving readers with the privilege of studying the issue deeper and formulating their own conclusions. Especially helpful is a timeline in the appendix of the book, which marks significant events from the biblical period to 2017. To be sure, this text is not exhaustive on the nuances of the conflict, yet it is also not simplistic. Dowty maturely explains the conflict and attempts to untangle its complications so that its readers can better understand such a tumultuous issue. Israel/Palestine is capable of standing alone, or it can be supplemented with other introductory texts to provide a well-balanced approach to the conflict.

(My thanks is given to Polity Press for providing a complimentary review copy in exchange for an honest review.)


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