Friday, June 2, 2017

The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine Hardcover – May 16, 2017 by Nathan Thrall (Metropolitan Books)

"The Only Language They Understand",provides an unbiased perspective on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The fairness perspective, alone, makes this book a great read. While Thrall’s main thesis is that progress between Israel and the Palestinians has largely occurred through force – from internal or external entities, the astounding point of clarification is that Israel and the U.S. work together to maintain the status quo. The appearance of progress is enough to keep the situation in a constant state of slow evolution, with Israel gaining power, land, and influence slowly but surely.

Once again, we see the evil of government influence – particularly that of the U.S. in not merely meddling in affairs, but funding the conflict with billions of American taxpayer dollars. Senior leaders are quoted as viewing the Palestinian plight as apartheid, yet those same leaders are powerless largely due to the American political system, with both Democrats and Republicans defaulting to support for Israel.

This is a conflict that, once started, has become normalized and tends to exist with a lot of motion yet little to no movement. Israel has the advantage of force through military power and HEAVY backing, both politically and financially, from the U.S. government and taxpayers, as well as strong backing from the U.S. media. Palestinians have a fractured leadership with no true movement for progress. Those fighting for Palestine have primitive methods of using force, and this leads to terrorist attacks that garner attention. Those same attacks are used by the media and politicians to push any forward progress back to the status quo.

The American taxpayers and voters are funding this conflict both financially and theoretically. Until that changes, the status quo will remain. Thrall provides a well-researched book for anyone who wishes to better understand – without a heavily preconceived perception – the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a myth-busting analysis of the world’s most intractable conflict, a star of Middle East reporting, “one of the most important writers” in the field (The New York Times), argues that only one weapon has yielded progress: force.

Scattered over the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea lie the remnants of failed peace proposals, international summits, secret negotiations, UN resolutions, and state-building efforts. The conventional story is that these well-meaning attempts at peacemaking were repeatedly, perhaps terminally, thwarted by violence.

Through a rich interweaving of reportage, historical narrative, and powerful analysis, Nathan Thrall presents a startling counter-history. He shows that force―including but not limited to violence―has impelled each side to make its largest concessions, from Palestinian acceptance of a two-state solution to Israeli territorial withdrawals. This simple fact has been neglected by the world powers, which have expended countless resources on initiatives meant to diminish friction between the parties. By quashing any hint of confrontation, promising an imminent negotiated solution, facilitating security cooperation, developing the institutions of a still unborn Palestinian state, and providing bounteous economic and military assistance, the United States and Europe have merely entrenched the conflict by lessening the incentives to end it. Thrall’s important book upends the beliefs steering these failed policies, revealing how the aversion of pain, not the promise of peace, has driven compromise for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Published as Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza reaches its fiftieth anniversary, which is also the centenary of the Balfour Declaration that first promised a Jewish national home in Palestine, The Only Language They Understand advances a bold thesis that shatters ingrained positions of both left and right and provides a new and eye-opening understanding of this most vexed of lands.

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