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

Tom Segev

3 Reviews

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Prose: non-fiction, History

* Vivid, panoramic history of life in Palestine under the British Mandate (1917-1948) - when the seeds of today's conflicts were sown.

Great Britain ruled Palestine from 1917 to 1948. The British presence replaced 500 years of Turkish control and led to the State of Israel, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1998. The British brought Palestine into the twentieth century. When they arrived the country lay in a Levantine nirvana; by the time they left it had become the arena for one of the century's major international conflicts. Among the personalities who shape this narrative are Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill, the archaeologist Flinders Petrie, King Feisal, Chaim Weizmann and David Ben Gurion. One momentous consequence of these 30 years was that the Jewish population increased by a factor of ten.

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Praise for One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate

  • Wonderfully readable and humane - INDEPENDENT

  • New and remarkable ... this excellent book - SUNDAY TIMES

  • Topicality is never an issue where Israel and the Palestinians are concerned. The arguments--not to mention bloodshed--over Jewish and Muslim nationhood and land rights have been going on for centuries and, whatever the best intentions of the current peace process, will probably go on for centuries to come. Both parties fanatically believe they have an inalienable historical right to statehood on the land in question and both regard Jerusalem as a holy City. As befits the disenfranchised, the Palestinians are slightly more open to a negotiated settlement, but the Israelis remain intransigent about handing over any but the most inhospitable of scrubland and the impasse remains. In the battle between the bullets and the ballot box, the bullets are winning hands down. Tom Segev is one of Israel's most notable historians and journalists--one of the few to strive for any sense of objectivity in his writings--so a new book by him is always worth waiting for. One Palestine, Complete is a detailed account of Palestine under British rule from 1917-48, the critical period in the modern history of the region that lead up to the creation of the state of Israel. Segev begins by carefully detailing Britain's well-known inconsistencies in dealing with both the Jews and the Arabs, both of whom it had appeared to promise if not the world, at least the country after independence was granted and goes on to make a convincing case that because Palestine fell into the category of an emotional rather than self-interested colonial possession, the Brits hoped the situation would unwind to everyone's mutual advantage. Where Segev departs from the historical norm is in his assertions that whatever the British may have said to the Palestinians their actions were uncompromisingly pro-Zionist from the off. This, he claims, was done out of the mistaken, anti-Semitic belief that the Jews controlled business and turned the wheels of history--in other words they were one of us--rather than a recognition of the rightness of their cause. Be this as it may, it is at best a partial explanation. Prior to the Second World War, Britain was on the verge of handing over Palestine to the Arabs and Segev completely downplays the impact of Western war guilt over the Holocaust that led to a huge growth in support for an independent Israeli state at the expense of Palestinian rights. Even so, One Palestine, Complete offers a thoughtful and dramatic account of the evolution of two nationalist movements that seem destined never to be reconciled. With a past like this, what hope is there for the future? - John Crace, AMAZON.CO.UK REVIEW

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Tom Segev

Tom Segev is the acclaimed author of THE SEVENTH MILLION and writes a weekly column for HA'ARETZ, Israel's most prestigious newspaper.

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