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Ben-Zion Netanyahu (father of the hero of Entebbe, and of the recent Israeli PM) first tells of the life of Abravenel, and then discusses his outlook and religion. This unusual treatment works very well. Netanyahu first introduces us to the attitudes and assumptions of the people who lived at the time, which are so often very different than our own, and then discusses how Abravenel fit into, or differed from, that zeitgeist. By building step by step -- World Outlook, View of History, Political Concepts, and finally Messianism, the author educates us about Abravenel's world, as well as his beliefs. I was surprised at Abravenel's prediction that the coming of the Messiah would be immediately preceded by a war between Christians and Moslems.
The endnotes, bibliography, and index are all very helpful.
[This review is based on the original 1953 edition.]
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The shortcoming of the book is that Netanyahu glosses over the terrible injustice done to the Palestinian Arabs by Britain at the creation of Israel and the continuing injustice of Israel's treatment of Arabs within Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The despicable record of Arabs with regard to human rights and terrorism does not negate the wrongs done by Israel and Britain. The Arab countries are just as much to blame, but Israel and Britain must share the responsibility. The Arabs displaced from the tiny portion of Palestine required for Israel should not just be regarded as nonentities.
The book makes an excellent reference work on the current Middle East politics. The Maps and Appendixes pinpoint the logic of the requirements to assure Israel's peace and security.
Netanyahu's writing is clear and intelligent. His perspectives are from the common soldier and citizen to the top power structures. His knowledge goes beyond the events and the people; offering clarity to differences in politics and culture and how they affect the solution to a durable peace.
While sharply analyzing the issues and Israel's successes, his most important point is that it is not enough for Israel to win militarily; they must also win politically. Israel has done poorly on this front compared to the Arab countries and the Palestinians. It probably explains Netanyahu's frequent appearances on US TV and media forums. This book successfully debunks so many of the myths of the Palestinian and Israeli issues we have come to accept as fact in much of the western press.
For those who support Israel's right to exist and want to have a commanding authority on the history and realities to assure their security, you will not find a better source.
In typical fashion, Netanyahu takes the reader to the point, quickly and decisively. The truth is meticulously outlined and even ardent detractors would be challenged to find one word of this fine work to be disputable and not based on fact.
Whether you are an avid follower of the problems in the Middle East, or if you can't even locate Israel on a map, but want to find out the truth about what is going on in Israel, this book is a must read. This may well be Mr. Netanyahu's best book yet.
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Reading the review of "a reader" from New York, I wish to note a few things. First, the book is published in 1997, so only somebody who does not respect truth and wishes to DECEIVE OTHERS can say that the author "attepts to capitalize on 911." Correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I understand "911" happened in 2001... Next, I had a good laugh out of the fact that a certain nationality in the Middle East is compared to an "old lady." This "old lady" brought down two large towers in Manhattan and daily dismembers Israeli children. And in her youth she initiated 4 very modern wars to snuff out the remains of the Jewish race. The review of "a reader" is a case study in how FACTS seems to be COMPLETELY DISREGARDED when the topic is the Middle East. This ignorance and hypocrisy is quite dangerous since it appeals to the worst in human nature.
Netanyahu offers a guiding light to the nations afflicted by terrorism. This book is a must for anyone seeking a strong and authoritative voice on terrorism and how it must be fought.
Most people will be aware of Benjamin Netanyahu's history as a former Prime Minister of Israel, but few are aware of his service as a soldier in an elite anti-terrorist unit in the Israeli army. Netanyahu having considerable experience of fighting terrorism on the diplomatic, political and also military battlefields.
Netanyahu pulls no punches in his direct, vigorous assault upon terrorism. This latest edition being published since the aforementioned terrorist attacks and includes reference and comment in relation to them.
Anti-terrorism measures voiced by Netanyahu are weighed against the question of civil liberties and he also projects his views on the rise of Militant Islam and the nuclear threat provided by terrorist entities.
The author candidly and honestly declares his opinion that, what is at stake today in facing the present upsurge of terrorism and fundamentalism, is nothing less than the survival of our civilisation. He advocates that any such talk in apocalyptic terms which might have been irrelevant exaggeration some ten years ago, is now becoming an accepted fact of life.
Despite such a shocking affirmation, the former Israeli PM expresses confidence that the threat can be successfully tackled if the enormous reserves of power and facilities at the disposal of the West are appropriately and quickly marshalled.
Netanyahu believes that no international terrorism can flourish without the support of sovereign states. He maintains that the latter train, arm and indoctrinate the terrorists within safe havens provided by these regimes, who more often than not share their agendas, dispatching these groups or individuals to serve as their proxies of terror.
The views of the author have been proved true and accurate time and time again as the 'war against terrorism' continues.
One need look no further than Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories. Fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups are granted freedom to operate and receive the financial and political support from all these entities. Not to mention Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Arafat's rule in the Palestinian autonomous areas has seen the freedom and approval for the running of summer camps in Gaza where Palestinian children are openly seen receiving training to become suicide bombers, with undisguised instruction in the merits of martyrdom and the methods of murder. Yet the world looks on with apparent or wilful impotence.
The author proclaims that 'the success of terrorists in one part of the terror network emboldens terrorists throughout the network'. Enough said.
Netanyahu adds that such small groups and
individuals '...nullify in large measure the need to have air power or intercontinental missiles as delivery systems for an Islamic nuclear payload, as...they will be the delivery system'.
The world would be foolish to ignore such a warning and it's potential consequences, especially with the hindsight of September 11th.
The author asks the question, "..do we rally to defeat this evil, while there is still time, or do we press a collective snooze button and go back to business as usual ?"
He continues to assert that, whilst the fight against terrorism might inflict some innocent civilian casualties, this in itself does not constitute a 'terrorism' of it's own, as some would argue.
Such casualties,he states, are entirely unintentional,indeed regrettable, but are tragedies by comparison and appropriate measures must be taken to minimise them.
To the contrary, terrorists do not unintentionally harm civilians! They deliberately murder, maim and menace civilians...in fact as many as conceivably possible!
It is Netanyahu's opinion that NOTHING can justify terrorism. No cause, grievance or agenda, irrespective of the opponent, state or race.
He asserts that any cause that uses terrorism to advance it's aims must NOT be rewarded, or seen to be rewarded...or accepted.
The recent climate of trying to equate or describe some terrorists as 'freedom fighters' is like a cancer to such commendable anti-terror standards. Those promoting such a questionable policy must have their own agendas closely scrutinised, as they perhaps have a 'goal' of their own.
The author quite rightly affirms that the situation cannot be dismissed that a militant terrorist state could SOON use it's 'proxies' to threaten or even launch a nuclear, chemical or biological attacks with apparent impunity.
Nor can the prospect be ignored that a militant regime would commit 'collective suicide' for the sake of a fanatical ideology. Such a scenario would inflict hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of civilian casualties.
Therefore the author is clear in his stand that EVERYTHING must be done to prevent such regimes (eg. Iraq, Iran) from developing such weapons or neutralising those already in their possession. Netanyahu suggests that a coalition be built around this very mission.
Although not a large book, (some 150 pages in the paperback version), it packs a considerable punch. Highly recommended read !
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Israel never was much appreciated in "Palestine", not since the Romans crushed and expelled them in the year 73 BCE. It was the Romans, says the author, who gave the name 'Palestine' to the areas inhabited by Jew and Arab in the ancient world. The name was a corruption of the word 'Philistine', and was stamped upon the Jews after they were vanquished to extinguish their Hebrew identity. The vanquished Jews, dispersed to the ends of the earth and persecuted to near extinction, yearned always for a return to their ancient homeland. When the Zionist movement accelerated in the early part of the 20th century, the Arabs began a reign of terror which extends into the present and can be witnessed on the nightly news with the bombing of pizza parlors, bat mitzvahs, public markets , shopping malls, and other civilian targets. Yet in one of the most surprising reversals in history, it is the Arabs who are the subject of the world's sympathy. It is the success of the Arab propaganda campaign that Netanyahu attempts to counter in this hard-hitting book.
The PLO can hijack and bomb airliners (Entebbe, an unsuccessful high jacking where the author's brother was killed) and even whole countries (Lebanon) and yet the world continues to speak in cliché of "Israeli aggression" , the "occupied territories", and the "brutality of the Israeli military". The Israelis were widely condemned for "aggression" against Iraq when they bombed and destroyed Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981, well before Saddam invaded Kuwait and engaged in war against the US In spite of current US worries, no retractions have yet been issued for these condemnations, though all the Western world breathes a sigh of relief until the next time Saddam has nuclear resources at his disposal, probably soon. The sum total of the "brutal Israeli bombing attack" on Saddam's reactor? One dead. Sum total of lives that might have been saved by destroying Iraq's reactor? Unknown, but Saddam used poison gas against the Kurds so go figure. After the US rescued Kuwait, that country expelled thousands of Palestinian Arabs who were living there. Did anyone complain of "Kuwaiti brutality" or speak of a separate Palestinian state in Kuwait for those Palestinians? For that matter, Palestinian-Arabs already have their own country: Jordan. The PLO actually is asking for two Palestinian states, says Netanyahu.
The book is full of facts which the West doesn't bother about in exerting pressure upon Israel. Offered a separate Palestinian state in 1948, the Palestinian Arabs said "no" just as Arafat and the PLO said "no" to a recent generous Israeli offer which would have gotten 95 percent of the West Bank and Gaza for a Palestinian-Arab state.
Does it bother anyone that several Arab nations were established by the same United Nations which assisted Israel? Does it bother anyone that the Arabs would not fight for their own liberation during the first world war and left all the fighting and dying to the Jews, the British and the US? Does it bother anyone that the Arab Grand Mufti of Jerusalem went to Hitler and Goebbels offering assistance in destroying the Jews? That even while Jews were being systematically murdered in Europe, the Arabs terrorized the British and other powers in the region in the hope of stopping Jews from saving themselves by retreating to the Jewish National Homeland?
And what about the tiny country itself? With only five million Israelis, approximately one million of whom are Arabs with Israeli citizenship, why does the very existence of this country threaten its gargantuan Arab neighbors? And while Israel confers citizenship on its Arab population, why is it against the law for Jews to live in Arabia, or Jordan? And why does the West condemn apartheid unless it occurs in the Middle East? Apparently there is very little to bother anyone, unless it involves the Jews acting in their own defense in the present struggle to survive three wars, continuous aggressions, terror bombings, and though Netanyahu scarcely mentions it, anti-Semitism.
Yet for all that, Netanyahu understands how intricately the dream of Israel is tied into the fortunes of the western democracies and moderate Arabs. Israel itself is the only democracy in the region, surrounded by an Arab world of autocrats, dictators, despots, and terrorists. Netanyahu praises Arab moderates and statesmen throughout the book and urges further resistance to the destructive undertow of Islamic fundamentalism and terror. Sadat of Egypt saw the wisdom of peace with Israel. He was assassinated by Moslem extremists. The presidents of Lebanon, and the former ruler of Jordan were also assassinated. The chain of political murder and religious assassinations extends throughout the course of Arab history, from Muslim beginnings in the 7th century. Indeed, the Prophet Mohammed is said to have beheaded nine hundred Jewish males who resisted conversion to Islam.
This book is a challenge to one's thinking. It's voluminous and illuminating, one of the best things I've read about the region. Netanyahu is a brilliant historian and an informed political leader. This is an important book, a bright light in the dark night of terror descended upon the world.
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All the examples of terror can be applied to Bibi's Israel with ease. He comes from a state which gives 1 million arabs unequal rights, and further 2 million in the occupied territories NO rights - The simplistic, and racist overtures in this book of lies, are sickining. The descriptions of Palestinians as "a malign cancer that must be removed", and references this "new breed of humankind", which shows "no mercy, or remorse" is a dehumanising catchcry to delegitisime any opposition to rightwing polemics like Netanyahu. Netanyahu makes an emotive and reactionary arguement that lacks substance and insight - he offers few facts, many falsehoods, and not much else. A very poor effort.
Netanyahu and the many contributors to this volume provide a detailed analysis of what terrorism is, it's causes, history and the proper response. Though I do not agree with everything in this book, it does provide one of the best analyses of terrorism available...and that's exactly why terrorist sympathizers don't want you to read it.
If the leaders of countries victimized by terrorism had implemented the measures advocated in this volume, terrorism would be doomed and the vicious attack on the US on Black Tuesday would never have happened.
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I think the most interesting thing for me really was the foreshadowing to September 11th, this book was written in 1995 and he was right on the mark with his warnings. It is also very interesting to note that with the info that has come out sense September 11th about what the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence community did know that if they would have followed his plan then one could see that maybe the attack could have been avoided. Overall, the book is ok. I wish he would have put more effort into it, a 140-page book is not much to get excited about. He started off with some history, but only thinly told it. There was room for him to expand on his ideas. I came away thinking that the base of the book was a newspaper or magazine article that he stretched into a book. If you like the author or are interested in the topic then I would suggest you pick up a copy.
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