cover image Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Arab-Israeli Tragedy

Scars of War, Wounds of Peace: The Arab-Israeli Tragedy

Shlomo Ben-Ami, . . Oxford, $30 (354pp) ISBN 978-0-19-518158-6

Equal representation of all sides should be a goal for anyone who seriously wants to reconstruct the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has proved itself to be one of the most persistent in modern history. In that respect, this book, which begins with the birth of Zionism in the late 19th century, comes as close as one could possibly hope for. Ben-Ami, who has served as both Israel's minister of foreign affairs and minister of public security and who is also an Oxford-trained historian, quotes sources from both sides of the conflict and takes great pains to represent all the major points of view. Equally notable is the evenhandedness of his criticisms. Ben-Ami proves perfectly willing to take to task near-mythic heroes from both sides—he's as critical of David Ben-Gurion (for his paranoid and messianic vision of territorial conquest) as he is of Yassir Arafat (for his self-serving political maneuvers and tactical blunders). One senses that comprehensive understanding and mutual respect are crucial motives for the author, who bore personal witness to the collapse of the Camp David summit led by Bill Clinton in 2000. With its insider perspective to this and other seminal events in the troubled peace process, this book is an important and outstanding contribution to the field. (Feb.)