A Place Among the Nations, by Benjamin Netanyahu
One of the many claims that the newly elected head of the Likud party, Benjamin Netanyahu, has to lead Israel—others are youth, courage, and the will to reform the country’s paralytic constitutional structure—is the power of communication. Such a skill is, of course, vital to any statesman of a country uniquely dependent on the good will of influential people throughout the world. Netanyahu has long been seen to possess it, since he is familiar to TV audiences everywhere as a spokesman for Israel’s views in moments of Middle East crisis. But his image as a master of the soundbite must now be supplemented by a more formidable accomplishment. He has written what I believe will be widely recognized as by far the most succinct, readable, powerfully argued, and convincing summary of Israel’s case. There are many good books about Israel and the Arabs. But A Place Among the Nations is the one that those interested in the subject must now read.
Netanyahu’s argument tests the premise that no settlement between Israel and the Arabs is possible, let alone likely to be durable, unless it is firmly based on the truth. The central difficulty has always been that the Israelis deal in concrete facts and the Arabs in hyperbolic imaginings. With few exceptions, Israeli negotiators try to stick to realities; and, with few exceptions, Arab negotiators try (albeit often unconsciously, which increases the difficulty) to ignore them. That is the real reason why peace talks always fail.
About the Author
Paul Johnson is the author of Modern Times, A History of Christianity, and A History of the Jews, among many other books.