The Fight For Jerusalem: Radical Islam, The West, And The Fight For The Holy City, by Dore Gold
As someone who reads a fair amount of the Middle East , I have certain expectations about a book like this. I would like to state at the outset that this book was surprising but in a way that was extremely impressive. This is not the sort of book that will be enjoyed by those who are apologists for the PLO and who are hostile to Israel. In this tour de force, the author strikes me as the student in the class who knows all the answers and leaves no gracious option to those with whom she is in a debate. Since my own opinions are along the author’s, and I am generally familiar with much of what she has to say, I did not find the book to be unpleasant. On the contrary, I thought it was an excellent read, among the finest audiobooks I have ever listened to. That said, I know there are going to be some people who do not like this book at all. If you are hostile to Israel and fancy yourself to be have a rational and empirical and justifiable view on Jerusalem and Israel based on history and truth, this book will likely be a painful read or listen. Sometimes the truth hurts, and this book hits with particular force.
It is worth keeping in mind that this book, although it contains a great deal of historical context as well as analysis of contemporary political, diplomatic, and religious events, is basically a legal brief submitted before the court of public opinion that argues the position that Jerusalem is best served under undivided Israeli sovereignty. Everything included in this book serves that end, from a discussion of the context of the history of Jerusalem to some withering criticism of the European Union and the failure of the international community to act in defense of the Israeli people and their interests in order to appease the Arabs. Although the author does not go into the details of Europe in the period before World War II, the author appears to making an implicit comparison between contemporary extremist Muslims and Hitler and his acolytes as being emboldened by appeasement with immensely destructive results for Jews and Christians. The brief as a whole can be structured with an introduction to the problem, a discussion of the historical context, as well as a discussion of contemporary trends, and then a brief series of recommendations that ought not to be surprising for those who have read or listened to the previous material.
This is one of those books that provides striking insight to the troubles in the Middle East and to why the problem is so difficult. For one, it appears as if prophetic hobbyists among both the Christian and Muslims camps have a great deal of interest in Jerusalem as the sign of the impending end times, and some people believe that their actions can help induce the return of the Mahdi or Jesus Christ. For another, it appears as if there are unbridgeable gaps between the maximum concessions each party is willing to give and the minimum conditions each is willing to make. At best, it might be possible to achieve a modus vivendi assuming the elimination of political power of hard-liners on the Muslim side and a sidelining of EU deals that lack moral legitimacy. The odds for the best case scenario do not appear particularly high, and the author does a great job of warning the reader of the effects of unilateral concessions in the absence of firm strength, as well as the overcoupling of the Jerusalem problem with other areas of Muslim extremism around the world. This was an educational volume, and anyone who cannot answer the detailed evidence and pointed questions of the author has no business parroting pro-PLO propaganda and passing themselves off as an expert.
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