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A durable peace : Israel and its place among the nations /
Benjamin Netanyahu.
New York : Warner Books, c2000.
xxiii, 482 p. : maps ; 24 cm.
More Details
added author
New York : Warner Books, c2000.
general note
Rev. ed. of: A place among the nations. 1993.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
First Chapter



I am acutely conscious of the great responsibility that has been placed on my shoulders as the prime minister of the State of Israel upon the marking of its first fifty years. In the ancient Jewish traditions, jubilees were a time for both celebration and reflection. Indeed, there is much to celebrate. Half a century ago, at the close of World War II, it was not clear at all that the Jewish people would survive. A third of all Jews were consumed in the fires of the Holocaust, and the remaining two-thirds faced the dual threat of persecution and relentless assimilation. Stalin targeted the Jews of the Soviet Union as class enemies, and the Jews of America and Europe were rapidly embracing assimilation and intermarriage. Absent a vital center, Jewish numbers would have shrunk further, and the Jewish people, after four millennia of unparalleled struggle for their place under the sun, would finally yield to the forces of history and disappear.

This has not happened. The pivotal change in Jewish destiny occurred with the founding of the Jewish state. This seminal event of reestablishing Jewish sovereignty in the ancient Jewish homeland was preceded by nearly a hundred years of renewed Jewish settlement activity in the Holy Land and by over fifty years of Zionist agitation, heralded by the prophetic and inspired genius of Theodor Herzl. Indeed, the Jewish state changed everything for the Jewish people. From a fledgling beachhead on the Mediterranean coast, struggling to survive the Arab onslaughts aimed at exterminating the Jewish presence in the land, the Jews were able to repel the attack; build a state; create one of the world's finest armies; defeat the much larger Arab forces in successive wars forced on Israel; unite their ancient capital, Jerusalem; bring in millions of immigrants and refugees, including a million beleaguered Jews from the former Soviet Union and the imperiled Jewish community of Ethiopia; revive an ancient language; build an astonishing scientific and technological capability; develop the most thriving economy in the Middle East, and one of the most advanced in the world; create a vibrant cultural life, which includes some of the leading artists and musicians of the world; and maintain a staunchly democratic ethos amidst a sea of despotic regimes.

By any criteria, these achievements are nothing short of miraculous. But they are all subsumed under the one greater accomplishment: The Jewish people, after long centuries of exile, has once again seized control over its destiny. And within the next decade or two it will realize the dream of ages, the Ingathering of the Exiles. For the first time since the era of the Second Temple two thousand years ago, the majority of the Jewish people will live in the Jewish homeland. This is a momentous devlopment, the one guarantor of the Jewish future. For it is also true that in the last fifty years, a significant threat to Jewish survival has been the accelerating rate of intermarriage, assimilation, and loss of identity among Jews of the Diaspora, especially the Jews of the West. While the Jewish population of Israel grew from 600,000 in 1948 to five million in 1998, the population of American Jewry stayed flat and is beginning to show alarming signs of steady decline. In Israel itself the threat of assimilation is nonexistent. And to the extent that Jewish identity has been maintained and strengthened in important parts of American Jewry, this is due to the strong identification that these Jews have with the State of Israel. In simple terms, the future of the Jewish people depends on the future of the Jewish state.

For the Jewish people, therefore, the history of the twentieth century may be summed up thus: If there had been a Jewish state in the first half of the century, there would have been no Holocaust. And if there had not been a Jewish state after the Holocaust, there would have been no Jewish future. The State of Israel is not only the repository of the millennial Jewish hopes for redemption; it is also the one practical instrument for assuring Jewish survival.

Assuring that survival is not free of problems. Israel has yet to complete the circle of peace around its borders, a peace that must be based on security if it is to last. I view this as the first task facing the country, and any prime minister must dedicate himself to its completion. This of course does not depend on Israel alone, but on the willingness of its Arab neighbors to forge a true compromise with Israel and genuinely accept its right to exist. Perhaps the most difficult agreements to be completed are the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. This will require the Palestinians to keep their commitments, especially to fight terror, and Israel to maintain adequate security defenses. Much of this book was written before the Oslo Accords, and I have amended and added a few segments to indicate how I believe the Oslo process could be completed so as to provide Israel with peace and security.

I have firmly pursued these principles for a realistic peace, despite a torrent of criticism and abuse from those who cavalierly refuse to understand that in the volatile Midldle East, peace without security is a sham. Such shortsightedness will not deflect me, or the people of Israel, from pursuing a lasting peace that will endure not a flicker of time but for generations to come.

Assuring Israel's security will also require us to address new threats on the horizon, presented by radical regimes developing fearsome weapons and the means to deliver them. Even if Israel completes the circle of peace with its immediate neighbors, as I strive to do, this threat will loom large in the coming decades. What if Iraq or Iran detonate nuclear devices? This will send infinitely greater shockwaves around the world than the recent addition of India and Pakistan to the league of nuclear nations. The possession of atomic bombs by Sadam Hussein or the Ayatollas of Teheran is not merely a mortal threat to Israel's existence. It is a threat to the peace of the world. The community of responsible nations will have to make every effort to contain or eliminate this threat. But surely for Israelis, once again they recognize that the one guarantor of their survival against these dangers is their own strength and capacity to deter and punish aggression directed against the state.

The transformation of the Jewish condition from one of utter powerlessness to one of effective self-defense marks the great change that the founding of Israel introduced into Jewish life, in fact making that life possible. As Herzl and the founding fathers of Zionism foresaw, the founding of the Jewish state would not necessarily stop the attacks on the Jewish people, but would assuredly give the Jews the means to resist and repel those attacks.

Naturally, such a momentous change in the life of a nation does not occur without internal turbulence and turmoil. Israel is undergoing the adjustment pains as it moves from adolescence to maturity. If initially its governing socialist class wanted to straitjacket all Israelis into one European socialist prototype, they have had a hard time accepting the fact that this will not happen, that the currents of life and the natural desire for unrestricted diversity and pluralism are more powerful than any rigid ideological construct. Israel at fifty is a rich tapestry of Jews from a hundred lands, each bringing to the national fabric its own unique strands of culture, folklore, and memory. Modern Hebrew is laced with Russian, Arabic, and English slang, and with expressions liberally borrowed from the Jews of Poland and Morocco alike. Each community affects the other, creating a dynamic synthesis that enhances the national culture. There are of course some lingering sharp divides, as between Israel's Jewish majority and its non-Jewish minority and, in the Jewish population, between the secular majority and the ultra-orthodox minority. It takes a crisis in the Persian Gulf to remind Israelis that inflying Iraqi missiles do not distinguish between religious and non-religious Jews, and, in fact, between any of the groups that make up Israel's population. Yet I believe that despite the inevitable frictions that accompany this extraordinary maturation of an immigrant nation, the forces that unite the people of Israel are infinitely greater than those that divide them: a common past in a sacred ancestral homeland, and a millennial desire to return to this land and forge in it a common future.

This of course is not the picture of Israel presented by many observers, as Israel celebrated its jubilee. The foreign press amplified the Israeli press, which regularly amplifies the grievances of the old elites that complain of giving way to the new realities. This chorus of gloom is an episodic and irrelevant footnote in the larger tale of Jewish revival in the last fifty years. After all that we have struggled against, and all that we have achieved, I have no doubt that Israel can meet with equal success the remaining challenges of external and internal peace.

Israel at fifty is undoubtedly one of the greatest success stories of the twentieth century. Communism, fascism, socialism, and so many other "isms" have crumbled into dust. But Zionism, the national liberation movement of the Jewish people, the one true liberation movement amidst so many false ones, has far from crumbled. It has achieved its central purpose of securing Jewish independence in the Jewish land, and it can look to the future and its challenges with confidence.

It can do so with the remarkable kinship and support of the American people. The friendship of the United States of America has been a cornerstone of Israel's modern history. It is a partnership based on common values and common ideals, and it remains constant. The New York Times , which affords ample space for the discontent of the Israeli left, expressed in noteworthy honesty its surprise at a Jubilee year poll comissioned by the newspaper, which showed that instead of waning, American support for Israel had reached a twenty-year high. Non-Jewish Americans from every part of that great land identified with Israel and not with its adversaries. They deeply valued the special relationship between Israel and the United States. Many thought of Israel as the biblical promised land upon which America was modeled. They saw Jerusalem as the original city on the hill and strongly believed that it must never be divided again. They viewed Israel's struggle as one of a solitary democracy surrounded by dictatorships, resolutely fighting terrorism. Beyond the swirl of daily events and the often tendentious coverage of Israeli affairs, this is what emerges in the American mind when the name of Israel is evoked. It need not surprise anyone for a simple reason: It is true.

Yet the truth has often eluded discussions about modern Israel. Israel has been portrayed as an aggressive obstacle to peace, a force bent on physically and economically colonizing its neighbors, a twister and bender of the Jewish soul. I believe that all of these slanders, like so many others that afflicted the Jewish people down the ages, will also pass in due time. I wrote this book not only to help accelerate their demise, but to express my boundless faith in the Jewish future, my unreserved confidence that the last fifty years have shown that the Jewish people will survive, and that against all obstacles the Jewish state will prevail.

Copyright © 1999 Benjamin Netanyahu. All rights reserved.

Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2000-09-01:
Netanyahu, ex-prime minister and former leader of the nationalist Likud party, updates his previous account of Israel's place among nations. He presents "little" Israel as a bastion of democracy amidst predatory neighbors hostile to the Jewish state. Even though the Egyptians, Jordanians, and Palestinians have signed peace accords, he continues to distrust them because of the extent to which the Arab world bears animosity to Israel and the Jewish people. He insists that only by maintaining military and political power can the future of Israel be assured, and that those who signed peace treaties are naive if they rely on such agreements for security. There is no guarantee, Netanyahu argues, that the neighboring regimes will remain in power, and therefore it would be foolhardy to rely on them. There are two kinds of peace, he posits: "a peace of democracies" common in the West and the "peace of deterrence" or an armed peace, which must be Israel's choice because, "except for Israel, there are no democracies" in the region. Nor, he emphasizes, can Israel rely on Western allies like the US, often bamboozled by Arab propaganda. The history of the Jewish people and Israel underscores the extent to which they must be vigilant, strong, and self reliant. Recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above. D. Peretz; SUNY at Binghamton
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, September 2000
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Bowker Data Service Summary
This examination of the Middle East's troubled history traces the origins, development and politics of Israel's relationship with the Arab world and the West. It argues that peace with the Palestinians will leave Israel vulnerable to Iraq and Iran.
Main Description
The Jewish Heritage Library . . . for such a time as this. It seems that the whole world is turning on the Jewish people. Now more than ever, we need to understand the issues. . . and the nation God has chosen to "be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth" (Dt. 14:2). Our Jewish Heritage Library--a collection of extraordinary books written primarily by Jewish people on Jewish subjects--will supply facts the secular media often surpress and a perspective that may change the way you look at world events. This powerful, lucid, and meticulously documented work sets the record straight concerning Israel and the Middle East. Writing as an Israeli who wants a secure Israel at peace with its neighbors, Netanyahu traces the origins, history, and politics of Israel's relationship with the Arab world and the West, exposing some of the most common--and often shocking--myths and lies about the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Table of Contents
List of Mapsp. ix
Prefacep. xi
Introductionp. 1
The Rise of Zionismp. 9
The Betrayalp. 55
The Theory of Palestinian Centralityp. 99
The Reversal of Causalityp. 141
The Trojan Horsep. 201
Two Kinds of Peacep. 259
The Wallp. 279
A Durable Peacep. 321
The Question of Jewish Powerp. 353
Chronologyp. 399
The Arab-Jewish Agreement at Versaillesp. 405
Feisal-Frankfurter Correspondencep. 409
The League of Nations Mandate for Palestinep. 411
Ribbentrop Promise to Mufti to Destroy Jewish National Homep. 421
The PLO Charterp. 423
Security Council Resolution 242p. 431
The Pentagon Planp. 433
Security Council Resolution 338p. 439
The Phased Planp. 441
Notesp. 443
Acknowledgments: to A Durable Peacep. 465
Acknowledgments: to A Place Among the Nationsp. 467
Indexp. 469
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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