One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate

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by Tom Segev

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A panoramic and provocative history of life in Palestine during the three strife-torn but romantic decades when Britain ruled and the seeds of today's conflicts were sown

Tom Segev's acclaimed works, 1949 and The Seventh Million, overturned accepted views of the history of Israel. Now Segev explores the dramatic period before the creation of the

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A panoramic and provocative history of life in Palestine during the three strife-torn but romantic decades when Britain ruled and the seeds of today's conflicts were sown

Tom Segev's acclaimed works, 1949 and The Seventh Million, overturned accepted views of the history of Israel. Now Segev explores the dramatic period before the creation of the state, when Britain ruled over "one Palestine, complete" (as noted in the receipt signed by the High Commissioner) and when its promise to both Jews and Arabs that they would inherit the land set in motion the conflict that haunts the region to this day.

Drawing on a wealth of untapped archival materials, Segev reconstructs a tumultuous era (1917 to 1948) of limitless possibilities and tragic missteps. He introduces the legendary figures—General Allenby, Lawrence of Arabia, David Ben-Gurion—as well as an array of pioneers, secret agents, diplomats, and fanatics. He tracks the steady advance of Jews and Arabs toward confrontation and with his hallmark originality puts forward a radical new argument: that the British, far from being pro-Arab, as commonly thought, consistently favored the Zionist position, and did so out of the mistaken—and anti-Semitic belief that Jews turned the wheels of history.

Rich in unforgettable characters, sensitive to all perspectives, One Palestine, Complete brilliantly depicts the decline of an empire, the birth of one nation, and the tragedy of another.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
"The British entered Palestine to defeat the Turks; they stayed there to keep it from the French; then they gave it to the Zionists because they loved `the Jews' even as they loathed them, at once admired and despised them, and above all feared them. They were not guided by strategic considerations, and there was no orderly decision-making process," claims Segev in revealing the thrust of his argument that the contemporary problems between the Arabs and the Jews over the issue of a promised homeland were exacerbated by the interventions of the British empire between the two world wars. Segev, author of the well-known and highly controversial books 1949 and The Seventh Million, is one of the "new historians" who have revised and demythologized the history of modern Israel. The reason the British feared the Zionists, Segev maintains, was that they believed that the Jews had inordinate political power around the world. Moreover, he suggests that the Arab rebellions of the late 1930s were instrumental in convincing the British to leave the reins to the Jewish Agency and even hypothesizes about how the British would have reacted if the Arabs had had a political infrastructure in place similar to that of the Jews. Although his argument would be more convincing had he given greater credence to the Palestinian perspective, Segev is an excellent historical writer who presents a compelling and timely discussion of a well-trodden subject--even if it does not stir as much controversy as his earlier work. (Nov. 14) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In the past 50 years, Arab-Israeli relations have been marked by several wars and internecine conflicts. Understanding the events in Palestine during the first half of the 20th century, which shaped the future of this conflict, is critical to understanding the contemporary obstacles confronting the Middle East peace process. Israeli journalist Segev (1949: The First Israelis) has written a detailed, evenhanded account of these events, which led to the establishment of the state of Israel and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. By relying on a wealth of archival material, the author demonstrates how and why the British ultimately favored the Zionist forces over the Arabs and how they helped the nascent Zionist movement defeat the Palestinians and other Arabs. Highly recommended for both academic and large public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/00.]--Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, AL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
Omer Bartov
Reading Tom Segev's remarkable book just as another round of violence and frustration erupts in Israel and the Palestinian territories, one is instantly gripped by a powerful sense of d�j� vu. Once again the region has succumbed to despair, and peace seems, at best, a distant prospect. And yet One Palestine, Complete is more than the tale of a historical tragedy in the making. For Segev is unusually attuned to the hopes and dreams that both Arabs and Jews have invested in this divided land. Instead of telling his story through the loud pronouncements of political leaders, he has woven a fine tapestry of individual portraits, curious anecdotes and penetrating insights. One is left with a faint hope that the current crisis is as much a convulsive reaction to an anticipated settlement as it is a compulsive return to old patterns of prejudice and violence...Segev has written an enormously important book, perhaps the best single account of Palestine under the British mandate.
New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
A cogent, readable, and meticulously researched account of Zionism and British policy in Palestine under the British Mandate. Ha'retz columnist Segev (The Seventh Million, 1993) draws from a mind-boggling array of primary and secondary source material to illustrate the wide range of issues and individuals that affected the political climate of Palestine between 1917 and 1948. His primary claim is that the British government was sympathetic to the Zionists over the Arabs at the close of WWI, because certain key officials (e.g., Lloyd George) believed the world's Jews to be a great and powerful transnational force that he would be wise to befriend and foolish to alienate. To this end, the author paints Chaim Weizmann as the one-man propaganda machine and spin-doctor who was behind it all—a kind of magic-bullet theory that fails to solve the puzzle satisfactorily. More plausible than Segev's radical claims of conspiracy and cowardice is his emphasis on Zionism in its pre-WWII form: he manages, through careful documentation and the innovative integration of source material, to effectively debunk the popular myth of Israel owing its independence to the sympathies of an international community horrified by the Holocaust. Making good use of historical documents, personal correspondence, and private journals, Segev allows certain characters to tell their own stories—from Yefim Gordin (a young Jewish immigrant who changed his name for the cause) to Khalil al-Sakakini (a leading Arab intellectual, educator, and nationalist)—which add up, in the end, to an intricate portrait of the mottled, beautiful, deadly mess that is the Holy Land. A careful, thorough,andintelligent work of journalistic history.

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Product Details

Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
6.36(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.92(d)

Read an Excerpt

Under the Turks, the Jews were allowed to pray by the Western wall more or less undisturbed. Officially, they were subject to a whole series of prohibitions; in practice, a wink and a bribe eased relations with the Muslims, and on special days, the Jews were allowed to blow the ram's horn, or shofar, at the wall and set up an ark, benches, and even a screen to separate the men from the women. In the new climate, though, the sheikhs connected these things to the Zionist program, and feared that treating the wall as a synagogue was but a first step in expropriating it from the Muslims. For this reason, they refused to let the Jews install chairs at the wall on a permanent basis: first they'll put out chairs, they said to the governor, then wooden benches, then stone benches. The next thing would be walls and a ceiling to keep out the sun and the cold, and suddenly the Muslims would have a building on their property. This was the Palestine conflict in a nutshell.

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