The War of Return: How Western Indulgence of the Palestinian Dream Has Obstructed the Path to Peace

Adi Schwartz and Einat Wilf, trans. from the Hebrew by Eylon Levy. All Points, $28.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-25276-0
Palestinian refugees’ claims to a “right of return” have prevented a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to this clearly articulated but less-than-convincing polemic from a pair of self-identified members of the Israeli left. Wilf, a former Labor Party politician, and Schwartz, a journalist, argue that Jewish leaders had no plans to expel Palestinian Arabs prior to the 1947–1949 war of independence, and that there were no systematic efforts to do so during the conflict—though hundreds of thousands did flee to neighboring Arab territories. Postwar objections to their assimilation back into Israel were in line with international norms and meant to prevent further conflict, according to the authors, who blame the UN for legitimizing the “nonexistent” right of return, “vastly inflat[ing]” the number of refugees by including all descendants of Palestinian males displaced during the war, and operating schools that indoctrinate children in “the illegitimacy of the Jewish state.” Schwartz and Wilf don’t address how the evolution of Israeli settlement policies may have contributed to Palestinian revanchism, and their claim that invalidating the right of return will lead to peace seems farfetched. This one-sided argument appears destined to spark debate rather that change minds. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 02/18/2020
Release date: 04/28/2020
Genre: Nonfiction
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