- Democracy, Peace, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (review)
- Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
- Purdue University Press
- Volume 13, Number 4, Summer 1995
- p. pp. 124-126
- View Citation
124 SHOFAR Summer 1995 Vol. 13, No.4 With the new environment in the Middle East and the opponunities for investment and trade, the value of Israel to the u.S. in years to come may be assessed less in military than in economic terms. There will doubtless continue to be differences between the two countries based on each's perception of its own national interests. How extraordinary it would be if the next examination of the special relationship were to focus on Israel as a strategic economic asset to the United States. Maureen Appel Molot Norman Paterson School of International Mfairs Carleton University, Ottawa Democracy, Peace, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, edited by Edy Kaufman, Shukri B. Abed, and Robert L. Rothstein. Boulder, CO: Lynne \ Rienner, 1993. 319 pp. $42.00. The editors and contributors of this book are affiliated with Israeli, Palestinian, and American institutions of higher education. They met over a period of four years with the support of institutes at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Maryland, plus the United States Institute of Peace. They shared an intellectual and political concern for the Middle East and the concepts of social science. Meetings like theirs contributed to the mutual de-demonizing of Israeli and Palestinian elites and eventually to the dialogue and agreements between the Israeli government and the PLO. Sections deal with coauthoring in a situation of conflict, the relevance of democracy to the Israeli-Palestinian antagonisms, and the character of democracy in Palestinian society and Israel. The book was in press prior to the accord of September 1993. Robert L. Rothstein was an outsider among Israelis and Palestinians, being "an American of Jewish extraction" (p. 289), who happened to be in Israel and writing on the subject of democracy. He contributed two of the better chapters. His first chapter discusses the concept of democracy, provides a framework of cross-national comparison, and offers the most explicit skepticism in the book about what seems to have been the perception or wish of other contributors that there is a connection between democracy and peace. His final chapter offers a summary of what the other chapters established and what they avoided. It also reminds us Book Reviews 125 that peace and democracy may operate on different planes, without one making a contribution to the other. The anthology is more notable for its expression of the nascent rapport between Israeli and Palestinian intellectuals than for some of its chapters. Rothstein is right to chastise his Israeli colleagues for an unbalanced emphasis on the faults in their democracy. Kaufman's chapter on "War, Occupation, and the Effects or. Israeli Society" illustrates the point. Time and again Kaufman asserts that Israeli democracy has deteriorated as a result of occupying Palestinian territories after 1967. He provides numerous examples of anti-democratic sentiments by Israeli leaders or reported in Israeli public opinion polls. Yet he does not provide comparisons of changing survey results from similar questions over time. Neither does he array his collection of antidemocratic expressions by reference to time in a way that supports a conclusion of deterioration. Kaufman also errs when he describes a report of a commission of inquiry that justified "moderate physical violence" by Israeli security services "in a secret appendix available only to the security services" (po 106). The commission of inquiry actually wrote about "moderate physical pressure," and only certain sections of its report are secret. Its central point has been debated in numerous public forums, and was .the subject of a double issue of the Israel Law Review in 1989. Readers concerned to find descriptions, assessments, and explanations of the Israeli polity should look to other volumes. The most impressive of the descriptive chapters in this book are those written by Palestinians and the one Israeli member of the group with credentials as an Arabist. Moshe Ma'oz, Shukri B. Abed, and 2iad Abu-Arnr·describe social, economic, and political characteristics among Palestinians and in other Arab societies markedly at odds with democracy. They also describe what may be protodemocratic developments in certain sectors of Palestinian societies, as well as a pragmatic willingness of numerous Palestinians to deal with Israel. None of...