A century after Britain’s Balfour Declaration promised a Jewish ‘national home’ in Palestine, veteran Guardian journalist Ian Black has produced a major new history of one of the most polarising conflicts of the modern age.
Drawing on a wide range of sources – from declassified documents to oral testimonies and his own decades of reporting – Enemies and Neighbours brings much-needed perspective and balance to the long and unresolved struggle between Arabs and Jews in the Holy Land.
Beginning in the final years of Ottoman ruleand the British Mandate period, when Zionist immigration transformed Palestine in the face of mounting Arab opposition, the book re-examines the origins of what was a doomed relationship from the start. It sheds fresh light on critical events such as the Arab rebellion of the 1930s; Israel’s independence and the Palestinian catastrophe (Nakba in Arabic) of 1948; the watershed of the 1967 war; two Intifadas; the Oslo Accords and Israel’s shift to the right. It traces how – after five decades of occupation, ever-expanding Jewish settlements and the construction of the West Bank ‘separation wall’ – hopes for a two-state solution have all but disappeared, and explores what the future might hold.
Yet Black also goes beyond the most newsworthy events – wars, violence and peace initiatives – to capture thereality of everyday life on the ground in Jerusalem and Hebron, Tel Aviv,Ramallah, Haifa and Gaza, for both sides of an unequal struggle. Lucid, timelyand gripping, Enemies and Neighbours illuminates a bitter conflict that shows no sign of ending – which is why it is so essential that we understand it.