Palestine: A Personal History

Palestine: A Personal History

3.5 2
by Karl Sabbagh
     
 

Palestinians feature regularly in the news headlines, but their country is much less known. And yet, for hundreds of years the land of Palestine, covering the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, was a complex society with a population that was over 90 percent Arab. In this humane and deeply compelling book about the people and the land, Sabbagh shows… See more details below

Overview

Palestinians feature regularly in the news headlines, but their country is much less known. And yet, for hundreds of years the land of Palestine, covering the area that is now Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, was a complex society with a population that was over 90 percent Arab. In this humane and deeply compelling book about the people and the land, Sabbagh shows that Palestinians have existed for centuries, their roots in the melange of tribes, ethnic groups, and religions that have populated the region, and describes how, as a result of the interplay of global power politics in the twentieth century, the majority of the Palestinians were expelled to make way for the new Jewish state of Israel. A sympathetic portrait of the country's rich heritage as well as evidence of long-standing harmony between Palestine's Arabs (Muslim and Christian) and its small indigenous Jewish population, Palestine: History of a Lost Nation is both a transporting narrative and a meditation on a region that remains a flash point of conflict-a story of how past choices and actions reverberate to the present day.

About the Author:
Karl Sabbagh is a British writer, journalist, and television producer. The author of several books, including A Rum Affair, The Riemann Hypothesis, and Power into Art, he lives in England

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sabbagh, a writer and television producer of English and Palestinian descent, combines his family history and the political history of Palestine, tracing what he forcefully argues is the much misunderstood story of the resistance and dispossession of 700,000 Arab Palestinians in the face of a European-centered Zionist movement. Sabbagh has a colorful family past to draw on, as the son of Isa Sabbagh, a well-known voice on the BBC's Arab Service in the 1940s and a direct descendant of Ibrahim Sabbagh, unsavory chief minister to Daher al-Omar, a local 18th-century ruler labeled "First King of Palestine." But the personal narrative serves a larger purpose: to underscore the continuity of a predominantly Arab Palestinian presence and culture going back centuries (in contrast to Zionism's biblical claims to the same land). While the narrative also uncovers a century of ill treatment and injustice meted out to Palestinians, Sabbagh emphasizes the long-standing harmony between Arabs (Muslim and Christian) and the small indigenous Jewish population in Palestine, including many acts of solidarity amid growing tensions. Carefully researched and engaging, his memoir offers a vital yet unfamiliar perspective on the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a heartfelt, judicious invitation to dialogue. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
KLIATT - Janet Julian
The author, the son of a Palestinian father and a British mother, weaves his family's history into that of Palestine. His heritage can be traced back as far as 1700, comprising nine generations. During WW II, his father Khalil became famous throughout the Middle East as the voice of the BBC's new Arabic Service. Karl's parents divorced a few years after his birth, so he was raised in London, unaware of his Palestinian connections. He is now a British author, journalist, and television producer. One of the author's goals is "to show that the foundation of the State of Israel perpetrated an enormous injustice again the Palestinians." He maintains that the hostility between Israelis and Palestinians is the product of the last 80 years, rather than any traditional enmity, and that the two sides should find a just settlement to their disputes. Sabbagh offers a history of the land beginning in the 1700s, moving through the Ottoman governments, the British in the 19th century, Zionist claims to Palestine, hostile acts on both sides, and expulsion of the Palestinians, beginning in 1948, from a land that was 90% Arab. Sabbagh makes a cogent case for justice for the Palestinians and encourages a dialogue to that end. This book deserves a careful reading. Reviewer: Janet Julian
Library Journal
Son of a British mother and a Palestinian father, London-bred journalist Sabbagh investigates his Middle East family roots to help clarify violence. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Sabbagh (A Rum Affair, 2000, etc.) argues that, before 1948, Palestine was not an empty desert just waiting for Jewish settlement. It was home to thriving Palestinian communities. From the earliest moments of the Zionist movement, charges Sabbagh, Zionists have claimed that Palestine was virtually uninhabited before Jews returned in the early 1900s. To the contrary, "Palestine was a small but complex society," comprising a highly-educated middle class, agricultural workers and peasants. Including many stories about his own family, Sabbagh traces Palestinian history since the 18th century, and he amply chronicles the violence that unsurprisingly erupted between Jews and Palestinians in the years after the Balfour Declaration. Few Westerners come off well. FDR, for example, is quoted as proposing that "we" simply move one Arab family out for every Jewish family moved into Palestine: "There are a lot of places to which you could move the Arabs. All you have to do is drill a well, because there is this large underground water supply, and we can move the Arabs to places where they can really live." Most fascinating is Sabbagh's analysis of late-19th- and early-20th-century travelers' reports, which, when they gestured toward Palestinians at all, portrayed them as uncivilized nomads. Explicitly invoking Edward Said, Sabbagh contends that Westerners' depictions of Palestine were marred by Orientalism and cannot be taken at face value. In establishing that Palestinians constituted Palestine's majority population before 1948, Sabbagh draws from a diverse array of sources, including many Western, Jewish and Israeli accounts. But the author devotes insufficient energy to explaining why Palestinianopposition to increasing Jewish settlement was so ineffective, and he fails to fully establish that the myth of an empty Palestine has much purchase today. A powerful and often graceful polemic that leaves some questions unanswered.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781843543442
Publisher:
Atlantic Books
Publication date:
01/01/2006
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.43(w) x 8.27(h) x 1.38(d)

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