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The Iron Wall
by Avi Shlaim
Book Review with commentary

We cannot say enough about this book. Written by an Israeli insider, it is an authoritative easy read, and provides reasonable interpretations of the evidence available. Israel's military and Zionist histories run on parallel tracks. Avi Shlaim illustrates how these interwove in marvelous clarity to bring about modern Israel as well as its history dealing with Palestinian intifadas.

Ze'ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky coined the phrase "Iron Wall." What he meant, in addition to the literal meaning, is that the Zionist would need help from foreign powers to achieve their goals of a homeland. In both senses his metaphor was and remains right on. Israel as a nation is largely in denial over their violent origins.

Jabotinsky, a stiff Russian in appearance, had rare insights into the human condition. And they fit marvelously with Jessica Stern's research showing how Alienation and Humiliation can radicalize an entire people. It was this insight that led Jabotinsky to publish his views that a people displaced will not take it lightly, and indeed they haven't.

If you want to understand terrorism from the state's point of view, this is the book to read.


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