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The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehoodby Rashid Khalidi
Synopses & Reviews
Named an outstanding title of 2006 by Publishers Weekly
At a time when a lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis seems virtually unattainable, understanding the roots of their conflict is an essential step in restoring hope to the region. In The Iron Cage, Rashid Khalidi, one of the most respected historians and political observers of the Middle East, homes in on Palestinian politics and history. By drawing on a wealth of experience and scholarship, Khalidi provides a lucid context for the realities on the ground today, a context that has been, until now, notably lacking in our discourse.
The story of the Palestinian search to establish a state begins in the mandate period immediately following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the era of British control, when fledgling Arab states were established by the colonial powers with assurances of eventual independence. Mandatory Palestine was a place of real promise, with unusually high literacy rates and a relatively advanced economy. But the British had already begun to construct an iron cage to hem in the Palestinians, and the Palestinian leadership made a series of errors that would eventually prove crippling to their dream of independence.
The Palestinians struggle intensified in the stretch before and after World War II, when colonial control of the region became increasingly unpopular, population shifts began with heavy Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe, and power began to devolve to the United States. In this crucial period, Palestinian leaders continued to run up against the walls of the ever-constricting iron cage. They proved unable to achieve their long-cherished goal of establishing an independent state—a critical failure that set a course for the decades that followed, right through the eras of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas. Rashid Khalidis engrossing narrative of this torturous history offers much-needed perspective for anyone concerned about peace in the Middle East.
In his new book The Iron Cage Rashid Khalidi uses history to provide a clear-eyed view of the region and assess the prospects for peace .He strives successfully for even-handedness Hes fair to both sides, and in particular, hes knowledgeable not only about Palestinian history but about what he has called tragic Jewish history.” —Anthony Lewis
Dr. Rashid Khalidi, author of Resurrecting Empire and Palestinian Identity, holds the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies at Columbia University, where he heads the Middle East Institute. He has written more than eighty articles on Middle Eastern history and politics, as well as op-ed pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and The Nation. He lives in New York.
Praise for Resurrecting Empire
Mr. Kahlidis book will certainly be useful to all those outside the region who are engaged in the difficult yet crucial task of devising ways to help foster change in the Middle East.” —Ivo H. Daalder, New York Times
Khalidi makes a powerful case for a more evenhanded policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—and for the rejection of the dangerous ambition of making the United States an imperial power in the Middle East.” —Warren I. Cohen, Los Angeles Times
With a deep knowledge of the Middle East and a felicitous literary style, Khalidi . . . examines the history of U.S. involvement in the area against the backdrop of European colonialism and shows why an assertion of our good intentions has little meaning for peoples who have known two centuries of foreign occupation and domination.” —Ronald Steel, The Nation
Khalidi, armed with a deep knowledge of the region, demonstrates that the legacy of past empires has conditioned present-day Middle Easterners to resist outside control, direct or indirect.” —L. Carl Brown, Foreign Affairs
Khalidi brings firsthand knowledge and an extensive historical backgrouund to a topic where such insight is needed more than ever.” —Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel Prize, author of The Roaring Nineties
"Historian Khalidi (Resurrecting Empire), a leading expert on the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, brings vital perspective to Palestinian attempts to achieve independence and statehood. Admirably synthesizing the latest scholarship and concentrating on the period of the British Mandate (1920 — 1948) established by the League of Nations after WWI, Khalidi describes the process by which a newly arrived European Jewish minority overcame, with help from its imperial ally, the claims and rights of the native Arab majority in what became Israel and the occupied territories. Khalidi shows Palestinians under the mandate facing comparatively severe systemic, institutional and constitutional obstacles to the development of any para-state structure — contrary to British promises of Arab independence and Article 4 of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Meanwhile, the Jewish minority could count on a system biased in its favor to develop the structures that became those of the Israeli government in 1948 amid violent expulsion of over half the indigenous population. In bringing this narrative up to the present, Khalidi rigorously details the missteps of the Palestinians and their leadership. Khalidi curiously refrains from drawing any detailed proposal of his own to resolve the ongoing conflict, but his first-rate and up-to-date historical and political analysis of the Palestinian predicament remains illuminating." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Khalidi (Arab studies, Columbia U.) seeks to explain why the Palestinians failed to achieve independence prior to 1948, the date of the establishment of Israel. Rather than "compare the incomparable"--the Palestinians and the Zionist movement--he provides thematically comparisons of the Palestinians to other Arab societies at analogous stages of development. His major themes include the failure of the Palestinians to successfully challenge the legal structure of the mandatory regime, which was consciously designed to prevent Palestinian self-government; the role of British-created religious structures in co-opting Palestinian elites; and the structural failures of the revolt of 1936-39. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Khalidi draws on a wealth of experience and scholarship to elucidate the current Palestinian conflict, using history to provide a clear-eyed view of the situation today.
In Resurrecting Empire, Rashid Khalidi dissected the failures of colonial policy over the entire span of the modern history of the Middle East, predicted the meltdown in Iraq that we are now witnessing with increasing horror, and offered viable alternatives for achieving peace in the region. His newest book, The Iron Cage, hones in on Palestinian politics and history. Once again Khalidi draws on a wealth of experience and scholarship to elucidate the current conflict, using history to provide a clear-eyed view of the situation today.
The story of the Palestinian search to establish a state begins in the era of British control over Palestine and stretches between the two world wars, when colonial control of the region became increasingly unpopular and power began to shift toward the United States. In this crucial period, and in the years immediately following World War II, Palestinian leaders were unable to achieve the long-cherished goal of establishing an independent state-a critical failure that throws a bright light on the efforts of the Palestinians to create a state in the many decades since 1948. By frankly discussing the reasons behind this failure, Khalidi offers a much-needed perspective for anyone concerned about peace in the Middle East.
About the Author
Rashid Khalidi, author of six books about the Middle East—Sowing Crisis, The Iron Cage, Resurrecting Empire, Origins of Arab Nationalism, Under Siege, and the award-winning Palestinian Identity—is the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies. He has written more than eighty articles on Middle Eastern history and politics, including pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many journals. Professor Khalidi has received fellowships and grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Rockefeller Foundation; he was also the recipient of a Fulbright research award. Professor Khalidi has been a regular guest on numerous radio and TV shows, including All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Nightline.
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