The Land of Blood and Honey: The Rise of Modern Israel

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The land of blood and honey : the rise of modern Israel - Danforth Library

A retired professor from the Hebrew University, van Creveld writes as a knowledgeable insider, based on his own personal experiences as an Israeli. The book is not autobiographical, but it certainly reflects the author's own strongly held views and opinions.

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Although informative about the daily life and struggles of Israelis and the difficulties they encounter living in an inhospitable [End Page ] environment in the Middle East, this book tends to downplay the negatives and emphasize the positive aspects of Israeli society and culture as much as possible.

The writing style is fairly casual and at times seemed to me to be somewhat crass and offensive.


The major drawback of using this book as a basic text for understanding Israeli politics and society, both past and present, lies in its biased treatment of important segments of Israeli society, including Orthodox Jews and Jews of Middle Eastern origin, as well as women and Palestinians. Van Creveld is convinced that married women in the labor market exploit other women who help look after their children and their homes.

The Road to Jewish Civilization, Part 7: From Darkness to Light

He also believes that both Orthodox and "Arab" women with large families are responsible for their own poverty, as are single mothers and divorcees. He does not really care about the lives, aspirations, or deaths of Palestinians, whether they are citizens of Israel or residents of the West Bank and Gaza. However, since he is concerned about the difficulties in controlling popular uprisings, such as the two intifadas, his solution is to dismantle most settlements in the West Bank and build a wall "so massive that even birds cannot fly over it" p.

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If I were to recommend a short history for the general reader and for classroom use, it would not be The Land of Blood and Honey. Instead, I would suggest A History of Israel by Ahron Bregman, another Israeli military historian, but one who provides a more balanced and less tendentious introduction to the history of the State of Israel. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus.

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Since then, of course, much has happened. While Damascus is getting some weapons from Iran, the latter is no substitute for the genuine superpower patron that Syria had in the old Soviet Union.

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So how does the West Bank fit into this picture? One of the main threats that Israel faces today is from ballistic missiles. Even the most extreme hawk would concede this point.

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On the other hand, since the West Bank itself is surrounded by Israel on three sides, anybody who tries to enter it from the east is sticking his head into a noose. To make things worse for a prospective invader, the ascent from the Jordan Valley into the heights of Judea and Samaria is topographically one of the most difficult on earth. Just four roads lead from east to west, all of which are easily blocked by air strikes or by means of precision-guided missiles. To put the icing on the cake, Israeli forces stationed in Jerusalem could quickly cut off the only road connecting the southern portion of the West Bank with its northern section in the event of an armed conflict.

The defense of the West Bank by Arab forces would be a truly suicidal enterprise. The late King Hussein understood these facts well. Until he was careful to keep most of his forces east of the Jordan River. When he momentarily forgot these realities in , it took Israel just three days of fighting to remind him of them. Therefore, just as Israel does not need the West Bank to defend itself against ballistic missiles, it does not need that territory to defend itself against conventional warfare.

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If it could retain a security presence in the Jordan Valley, keep the eventual Palestinian state demilitarized and maintain control of the relevant airspace, that would all be well and good. However, none of these conditions existed before ; in view of geography and the balance of forces, none is really essential today either. And how about terrorism?

As experience in Gaza has shown, a fence or preferably a wall can stop suicide bombers from entering.

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As experience in Gaza has also shown, it cannot stop mortar rounds and rockets. Mortar and rocket fire from the West Bank could be very unpleasant.


On the other hand, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran already have missiles capable of reaching every point in Israel, Tel Aviv included. Many of those missiles are large and powerful. Compared to the damage they can cause, anything the Palestinians are ever likely to do would amount to mere pinpricks.