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~Sophia~
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I am looking for a good objective source of a commentary on Israeli-Palestinian conflict which should necessarily include an analysis of the influence of Zionism. I have done some research myself but I find it difficult to make a judgment whether or not the author is objective. To me, a lot of them seem polarized in either one or other direction.

I have realized that my ignorance on the issue makes it difficult for me to judge with accuracy and confidence some of the current often important political events (someone call me on it recently - and I did not like it :) )

Suggestions greatly appreciated.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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I am currently listening to a lecture-set from the "Great Course" series, titled "The United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11", by Professor Salim Yaqub (University of Chicago). He takes a detailed factual style, with minimal commentary. This is good and bad, of course; but one gets the impression that he is covering all the nitty gritty and not leaving anything out. The course is not without an underlying assumption that majorities in nations (Arabs in this case) have some type of right to self-determination; but, I imagine that almost every contemporary historian will make that error.

I got this lecture from our library, perhaps yours has something like it .The "Great Course" series tend to follow a decent academic standard.

Edited by softwareNerd
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I am looking for a good objective source of a commentary on Israeli-Palestinian conflict which should necessarily include an analysis of the influence of Zionism.

In my opinion, Yaron Brook does a wonderful job in his lecture: The Rise and Decline of the State of Israel, which includes, amongst other things, his discussion of how Zionism is a "package deal" of a legitimate concern for a state that protects the individual rights of all Jews with the fatal premise that Jews deserve their own state because they are an oppressed people. I recommend this lecture over almost anything else.

I really like Michael Oren as a historian. He wrote a fascinating book on the Six Day War, which is was one of the most important events in the modern Middle East. Another book of his, Power, Faith and Fantasy, has an interesting and lengthy discussion on the history of the Zionist movement but the book primarily focuses on the United States reaction to it over time.

I would still recommend Alan Deroshowitz's The Case for Israel as a good book on this subject as well. However, although many of his arguments seemed to be sound when I read this book about five years ago, he unfortunately still exhibits a palpable but not predominate religious bias in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

I am currently listening to a lecture-set from the "Great Course" series, titled "The United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11", by Professor Salim Yaqub (University of Chicago). He takes a detailed factual style, with minimal commentary. This is good and bad, of course; but one gets the impression that he is covering all the nitty gritty and not leaving anything out. The course is not without an underlying assumption that majorities in nations (Arabs in this case) have some type of right to self-determination; but, I imagine that almost every contemporary historian will make that error.

I listened to this course last summer while driving to visit my parents. I think it was generally good although I remember being dissatisfied with several of the details he presented. Although I honestly cannot recall precisely what my objections were, I think this is the lecture series where I perceived that the instructor overplayed too many emotional and unimportant details in much of the Israeli conflicts. For example, he might describe Israel striking a Black September hideout, which would kill a few infamous militant leaders while also killing their families in the process. However, he would emphasize how the families killed in action consisted of young children and pregnant women. Such an emphasis is more of an emotional point that draws attention away from the fact that these Islamic terrorists are so monstrous that they often surround themselves with their family at all times, usually to draw media sympathy towards their cause if they are assassinated. I also remember being unsatisfied with his presentation of the Six Day War.

Anyway, I did think there was a lot of value in listening to this course though, despite my disagreements.

It has been my experience that there is no such thing as objective writing on this matter.

Unfortunately this conflict is a highly emotional issue for many, including many of the intellectuals who write books and create documentaries on this issue. That being said, it is often difficult to find a source that makes an honest, objective attempt to chronicle the essential history to this tumultuous conflict.

Edited by DarkWaters
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I am currently listening to a lecture-set from the "Great Course" series, titled "The United States and the Middle East: 1914 to 9/11", by Professor Salim Yaqub

Thank you. I will check it out. I prefer to read so hopefully I can find transcripts.

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I decided to read Beyond Chutzpah instead.

I strongly advise reading anything by Norman Finkelstein with great caution. The only value I imagine you can get from his works is if you are doing it just to get first-hand knowledge of what anti-Israel academics write. He is an associate and ideological fan of Noam Chomsky, who is widely known for his vehement opposition to Israel and his abhorrent diatribes against laissez-faire capitalism. I believe that Noam Chomsky heavily promotes the gross misconception that blood-thirsty African dictatorships, such as the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe, are prime examples of free-market capitalism (!).

In my opinion, Norman Finkelstein is one of the worst academics today when it comes to writings on history and foreign policy.

A good book about this subject is Benjamin Netanyahu's Terrorism: How the west can win .

I read Binyamin Netanyahu's book Fighting Terrorism: How Democracies can Defeat Domestic and International Terrorism. It is an interesting book on political and military action to combat terrorism at the tactical and operational level. Former PM Netanyahu is obvious an individual with an enormous amount of experience in this area, so his book contains a decent collection of facts. He also draws examples from other non-Islamic ideological terrorist groups, such as the Red Army Faction in Germany, the Red Brigade in Italy and Aleph in Japan, to corroborate his conclusions. Anyway, I suspect that this book is very similar to the older one you have cited, which I have not read. Would you agree?

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I strongly advise reading anything by Norman Finkelstein with great caution. The only value I imagine you can get from his works is if you are doing it just to get first-hand knowledge of what anti-Israel academics write.

In order for me to make up my mind I have to evaluate the validity of arguments presented by both pro and anti sides. Anti can mean not believing in the rightness of a goal (in which case no method would be proper - and there are some of those) or may mean not supporting the methods by which a goal is being pursued (people being critical of specific (and not all) policies).

Edited by ~Sophia~
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If you're looking for objectivity then I would definitely not choose against reading Dershowitz's books. The Case for Israel and The Case for Peace, while definitely pro-Israel (as the title suggests), are about as objective as I've seen on the topic. Another one that comes relatively close is "Right to Exist," by Yaacov Lozowick.

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If you're looking for objectivity then I would definitely not choose against reading Dershowitz's books. The Case for Israel and The Case for Peace, while definitely pro-Israel (as the title suggests), are about as objective as I've seen on the topic.

I will read other pro selections. The reason I decided against that one in particular was not because it was decidedly pro but because I read that he did not personally checked the validity of the findings he used in his arguments (he used another book as a source). You can read about it on Wikipedia. That is a very poor scholarship.

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That was the criticism leveled against Dershowitz by Finklestein. Harvard Law School cleared him of any charges of plagiarism and poor scholarship. The fact that he got sources from the book From Time Immemorial is hardly evidence that he did not use the primary sources, themselves.

When I wrote my master's thesis, I frequently used the bibliographies of articles to look for other appropriate sources. When I found one that sounded good, I looked it up and used it. Frequently, I would use the exact same quotations and data points, and even phrase it similarly to how I found it the other article. Doing so is not poor scholarship.

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That was the criticism leveled against Dershowitz by Finklestein. Harvard Law School cleared him of any charges of plagiarism and poor scholarship. The fact that he got sources from the book From Time Immemorial is hardly evidence that he did not use the primary sources, themselves.

Finkelstein to answer Dershowitz presented his case in a book. Dershowitz, in contrast, had written letters to New Press and to the Governor of California in order to prevent University of California Press from publishing Finkelstein's book. After learning that, I am not interested in what Mr. Dershowitz has to say.

There are plenty other books out there which also take a pro-Israel stand that I can select instead.

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Frequently, I would use the exact same quotations and data points, and even phrase it similarly to how I found it the other article. Doing so is not poor scholarship.

How do you know that the fact you relay upon in your argument is true as presented? When it comes to the topic in question specifically, I find that, because it is so politically and emotionally charged, bias and thus misinterpretation of facts, intentional or unintentional is common. It is often not what is said (although how it is being presented also creates certain impressions) but what has been omitted that matters as it affects the context (this is especially true of media coverage).

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Finkelstein to answer Dershowitz presented his case in a book. Dershowitz, in contrast, had written letters to New Press and to the Governor of California in order to prevent University of California Press from publishing Finkelstein's book. After learning that, I am not interested in what Mr. Dershowitz has to say.

There are plenty other books out there which also take a pro-Israel stand that I can select instead.

Alan Dershowitz has been a staunch defender of free speech. His letters trying to prevent Finkelstein from publishing his book were because he considered the accusations made by Finkelstein to be libelous. When you think someone is telling lies about you--especially if you're a public figure--there is nothing wrong with trying to protect your character, by force of law if necessary.

Since his appeals were rejected, however, he did actually write a book in response to Finkelstein: The Case for Peace. Large segments of this book are dedicated to rebutting Finkelstein.

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How do you know that the fact you relay upon in your argument is true as presented? When it comes to the topic in question specifically, I find that, because it is so politically and emotionally charged, bias and thus misinterpretation of facts, intentional or unintentional is common. It is often not what is said (although how it is being presented also creates certain impressions) but what has been omitted that matters as it affects the context (this is especially true of media coverage).

I know because I went directly to the sources. If article A cites article B, I would use article A as a citation, but I would also go look up article B and look through it, to decide if I wanted to use it. I didn't just take article A's use of article B, and then throw it into my own paper. I didn't use any indirect citations. My topic was not nearly as politically/emotionall charged as this one, so that turned out to be a non-issue. This is what Dershowitz did with his research, and it is what Finkelstein considered plagiarism.

Alan Dershowitz has many of the faults of his fellow liberals, but he is probably the most intellectually honest of any prominent academic figure in this country. I think that any reasonable person who looks at the Dershowitz-Finkelstein dispute will come down on Dershowitz's side. It is quite telling that he was found innocent of any academic dishonesty by Harvard of all places. Harvard, that bastion of anti-Israeli sentiment, came down on the side of a supporter of Israel, when he was pitted against one of the worst anti-Semites in the country.

Lastly, even if Dershowitz did anything intellectually dishonest, you aren't going to fare any better by reading a book by Norm Finkelstein.

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His letters trying to prevent Finkelstein from publishing his book were because he considered the accusations made by Finkelstein to be libelous.

The most common reason given when a person is trying to silence the voices of others.

When you think someone is telling lies about you--especially if you're a public figure--there is nothing wrong with trying to protect your character, by force of law if necessary.

If they are lying then you will be able to prove it in a court of law and seek public retraction and damages.

Since his appeals were rejected...

I see it as a good sign that intellectual freedom still exist in your country.

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I recommend Princeton academic Bernard Lewis, as a generally good pro-Israel commentator and an expert on the Middle East generally. Daniel Pipes is also generally good as far as the pro-Israel side goes.

The most respected anti-Israel writers are probably Edward Said and Noam Chomsky.

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I recommend Princeton academic Bernard Lewis, as a generally good pro-Israel commentator and an expert on the Middle East generally. Daniel Pipes is also generally good as far as the pro-Israel side goes.

Thank you for your recommendations.

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Anyway, I suspect that this book is very similar to the older one you have cited, which I have not read. Would you agree?

I assume his viewpoint must be the same. Nevertheless, "How the west can win" also contains many interesting articles by other authors.

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The most common reason given when a person is trying to silence the voices of others.

I hardly think so. The most common is accusing someone of "hate speech." Even so, the fact that some people cry "libel" in an attempt to silence another person does not mean that there are not genuine cases of libel.

If they are lying then you will be able to prove it in a court of law and seek public retraction and damages.

And the fact that Dershowitz's appeals were unsuccessful somehow proves that it wasn't libel? You really have that much faith in the court system, particularly in California? When dealing with accusations of academic fraud, even genuine libel is going to be difficult to prove because, in order to do so, you basically have to prove that no reasonable person could look at your work and think that you plagiarized something. If Finkelstein blew things out of proportion and invented other offenses out of whole cloth (both of which he most certainly did) it would be almost impossible to prove that he did so intentionally.

I see it as a good sign that intellectual freedom still exist in your country.

What sign? A sign that one professor can slander another without fearing the consequences? You'll note that Dershowitz did not try to stop the book from being published because of Finkelstein's repugnant views on the Israel-Palestine situation. He tried to stop it from being published because of what he believed to be blatantly false statements made about his own character. Had the book not mentioned Dershowitz at all and, instead, focused simply on spewing Finkelstein's anti-Israel propaganda, I daresay Dershowtiz would not have tried to stop its publishing.

I hope you are not equating any criticism of Israel with anti-semitism.

And I hope you're not insinuating that I did. I have been critical of Israel in the past, as has Alan Dershowitz, as have many reasonable people. What is anti-Semitic is to single out Israel for criticism, especially in light of the far worse human rights records of the other countries of the Levant, including the Palestinians themselves. What is anti-Semitic is to meet with Hasan Nasrallah and encourage his organization to keep fighting.

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Even so, the fact that some people cry "libel" in an attempt to silence another person does not mean that there are not genuine cases of libel.

I did not say that there are not and there is an appropriate legal course of action to take. Did he? No, Mr. Dershowitz attempted to bypass the burden of proof necessary in such cases.

And the fact that Dershowitz's appeals were unsuccessful somehow proves that it wasn't libel?

I will read the book and find out. Again, "appeals" were not made to a legal body.

And I hope you're not insinuating that I did.

No I am not.

I do not wish to discuss this issue any further. I am glad that I have a book to read to make up my own mind about the validity of presented arguments. If Mr. Dershowitz had his say - that would not be so.

Edited by ~Sophia~
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I will read other pro selections. The reason I decided against that one in particular was not because it was decidedly pro but because I read that he did not personally checked the validity of the findings he used in his arguments (he used another book as a source). You can read about it on Wikipedia. That is a very poor scholarship.

If it is no trouble, I was wondering if you could cite a few, specific and non-trivial errors that Alan Dershowitz made in his book, which you consider to be instances of "very poor scholarship"?

The Wikipedia article on the Dershowitz-Finkelstein controversy does not cite many specifics, beyond the following error:

Finkelstein pointed out; in one instance, he claimed, Dershowitz refers to the same page number as Peters, although he is citing a different (1996) edition of the same source, in which the words appear on a different page.

Even if this is true, it seems like a pretty trivial error that does not offer a deep commentary on his scholarship. How do we know that Dr. Dershowitz did not simply list the wrong edition, since he could have just copied the reference from Joan Peters' book, even though he verified the material in the edition that corresponded to the cited page numbers?

Of course, if it is true that Dr. Dershowitz did not verify his sources on crucial information listed in his book, then this does not reflect well on his research at all. However, I do not understand why it is so obvious that he did not verify his sources.

Edited by DarkWaters
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