Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 (The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies)

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9781611688115: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 (The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies)
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Winner of the Azrieli Award for Best Book in Israel Studies

In late summer 1929, a countrywide outbreak of Arab-Jewish-British violence transformed the political landscape of Palestine forever. In contrast with those who point to the wars of 1948 and 1967, historian Hillel Cohen marks these bloody events as year zero of the Arab-Israeli conflict that persists today.

The murderous violence inflicted on Jews caused a fractious—and now traumatized—community of Zionists, non-Zionists, Ashkenazim, and Mizrachim to coalesce around a unified national consciousness arrayed against an implacable Arab enemy. While the Jews unified, Arabs came to grasp the national essence of the conflict, realizing that Jews of all stripes viewed the land as belonging to the Jewish people.

Through memory and historiography, in a manner both associative and highly calculated, Cohen traces the horrific events of August 23 to September 1 in painstaking detail. He extends his geographic and chronological reach and uses a non-linear reconstruction of events to call for a thorough reconsideration of cause and effect. Sifting through Arab and Hebrew sources—many rarely, if ever, examined before—Cohen reflects on the attitudes and perceptions of Jews and Arabs who experienced the events and, most significantly, on the memories they bequeathed to later generations. The result is a multifaceted and revealing examination of a formative series of episodes that will intrigue historians, political scientists, and others interested in understanding the essence—and the very beginning—of what has been an intractable conflict.

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About the Author:

HILLEL COHEN is a senior lecturer in the Department of Islam and Middle East Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Review:

“With great precision and strident care, Hillel Cohen engages Arabs and Jews and tells the definitive story of the 1929 violence in Palestine. Bristling with new information and insight, this is a must read in every Israel/Palestine and Modern Middle East history course.” (Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Chair, Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, New York University)

“While there was violence between Arabs and Jews in Palestine before 1929, Hillel Cohen makes a compelling case that the widespread assaults of that year marked the emergence of the Arab-Israeli conflict in its full intercommunal dimensions. Drawing on painstaking examination of primary sources on all sides, he shows how these confrontations consolidated the process of polarization between the two communities and established an enduring dynamic of relations between them. The dueling narratives of both sides, and the variations within each camp, are subjected to unsparing analysis. And while the book targets one key transformative point in one conflict, the portrait that emerges is also valuable as an essay in how collective memory is shaped and preserved generally. This is a 'case study' with broad implications beyond the immediate focus; indeed, it is a model of how informative a case study can be.” (Alan Dowty, former president of the Association for Israel Studies)

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9781611688108: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 (The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies)

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