Avi Shlaim's The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World is the outstanding book on Israeli foreign policy, now thoroughly updated with a new preface and chapters on Israel's most recent leaders.
In the 1920s, hard-line Zionists developed the doctrine of the 'Iron Wall': negotiations with the Arabs must always be from a position of military strength, and only when sufficiently strong Israel would be able to make peace with her Arab neighbours.
This doctrine, argues Avi Shlaim, became central to Israeli policy; dissenters were marginalized and many opportunities to reconcile with Palestinian Arabs were lost. Drawing on a great deal of new material and interviews with many key participants, Shlaim places Israel's political and military actions under and uncompromising lens.
His analysis will bring scant comfort to partisans on both sides, but it will be required reading for anyone interested in this fascinating and troubled region of the world.
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