Defending Israel: A Study of Her Borders and a Plan Toward Peace

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Israel is a tiny country. From tip to toe, it stretches 260 miles long but is only 60 miles at its widest point. Since the days of the British mandate, the question of "defensible borders" for the Jewish state has always been problematic. Yet considering the larger picture of what has happened in the Middle East over the last 25 years — the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the weakening of Syria as a result of the collapse of the USSR, the smashing of Iraq by the U.S — Israel is, militarily speaking, ...

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Overview

Israel is a tiny country. From tip to toe, it stretches 260 miles long but is only 60 miles at its widest point. Since the days of the British mandate, the question of "defensible borders" for the Jewish state has always been problematic. Yet considering the larger picture of what has happened in the Middle East over the last 25 years — the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the weakening of Syria as a result of the collapse of the USSR, the smashing of Iraq by the U.S — Israel is, militarily speaking, stronger than ever before. The greatest remaining threats are terrorism and guerilla warfare; and those, this book argues, are best dealt with territorial concessions. This is a compact, incisive study that is certain to draw attention.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A provocative, ruthlessly honest, and ultimately persuasive argument for reorienting basic Israeli defense policies. Advocating partition as the only viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, van Creveld believes that the future security of the Jewish state requires the pursuit of a distinctively Israeli variant of the Revolution in Military Affairs."

- Professor Andrew J. Bacevich, author of American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U. S. Diplomacy

Publishers Weekly
In this clear and original book, Creveld (Moshe Dayan, etc.) argues effectively for Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories-unilaterally, if necessary-on the grounds that it will make Israel more secure. A history professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he details the change in Israel's military thinking after its 1967 victory in the Six-Day War and claims it's time to change once again. Creveld proposes a "military revolution": more mobile forces and a more decentralized command system that will be more capable of countering terrorist threats. This should be accompanied by a withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, he contends, which are sapping Israel's military and moral superiority at levels that far outweigh their economic and ideological value. While he admits that an Israeli withdrawal will not completely rid the country of terrorism, he asserts that it will likely take away some of the motivation for suicide bombers. He also argues forcefully that the conventional threat to Israel from Arab states has passed and that the nuclear threat, post-Saddam Hussein, may be exaggerated. At a time when the debate is bogged down and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is stuck in a back-and-forth with his party over withdrawing from Gaza, Creveld's innovative ideas deserve a wide readership. Maps. Agent, Artellus Ltd., U.K. (Oct.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Israeli military historian van Creveld's plan for peace is to get out of the Palestinian territories occupied since the June 1967 war and complete the building of the wall. After 1967, Israel was attracted to the concept of achieving more "defensible borders," but plans along those lines have not worked out to Israel's advantage. Better, then, to return to the defense of an Israel within its pre-1967 borders. Israel's clear technological advantage over all its neighbors takes care of conventional threats, but putting down militarily insignificant terrorist or guerrilla activity is demonstrably costly in both manpower and morale. Citing the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall, and the line dividing Greeks and Turks in Cyprus, van Creveld argues that a wall will do the job. This "controversial plan," set within an excellent succinct survey of Israeli military doctrine and practice since 1967, actually reflects emerging mainstream Israeli thinking-for better or worse.
Library Journal
Distinguished military historian Van Creveld (history, Hebrew Univ.) brings both sophistication and candor to this unconventional treatment of Israeli security and Middle East peace. Given the moribund state of America's "road map" for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, the absence of public debate about the role of the occupied territories in Israel's security, and the Sharon government's apparent difficulty in realizing its intended withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, this book is especially relevant reading. Van Creveld argues that the Palestinian intifada poses a far greater threat than conventional warfare from Arab states and can only be managed by withdrawal from the occupied territories and construction of a wall more or less along the pre-1967 boundary. In advancing his case, Van Creveld provides a valuable critique of the conventional idea that the territories have "done little to ease [Israel's] grand strategic handicap." His familiarity with current military technology and sense of what the Palestinian conflict has cost bolster his argument, while Israel's domestic politics and its dependence on West Bank aquifers make it more problematic. Nevertheless, this book moves beyond the usual "doves and hawks" argument and represents an important contribution to the debate. Recommended for academic and larger public libraries.-Zachary T.Irwin, Sch. of Humanities & Social Science, Pennsylvania State Univ., Erie Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312328665
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Martin van Creveld was born in the Netherlands in 1946 and has lived in Israel from 1950. Having studied in Jerusalem and London, since 1971 he has been on the faculty of the History Department, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A specialist in military history and strategy, he is the author of 17 books, and has appeared regularly on CBS, CNN and the BBC.

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Table of Contents

Maps xi
Introduction 1
1 Israeli Defense Before 1967 7
2 The Birth of "Defensible Borders" 20
3 The Grand Strategic Equation 40
4 Defending Against Terrorism 57
5 Dealing with Conventional Warfare 81
6 Aircraft, Missiles, and Wmds 116
7 Broader Horizons 141
8 Conclusions 158
Notes 167
Index 183
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