Israel is a tiny country. From tip to toe, it stretches 260 miles long but is only 60 miles at its widest point. Since the days of the British mandate, the question of "defensible borders" for the Jewish state has always been problematic. Yet considering the larger picture of what has happened in the Middle East over the last 25 years -- the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, the weakening of Syria as a result of the collapse of the USSR, the smashing of Iraq by the U.S -- Israel is, militarily speaking, stronger than ever before. The greatest remaining threats are terrorism and guerilla warfare; and those, this book argues, are best dealt with territorial concessions. This is a compact, incisive study that is certain to draw attention.
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Martin van Creveld was born in the Netherlands in 1946 and has lived in Israel from 1950. Having studied in Jerusalem and London, since 1971 he has been on the faculty of the History Department, the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A specialist in military history and strategy, he is the author of 17 books, and has appeared regularly on CBS, CNN and the BBC.
In this clear and original book, Creveld (Moshe Dayan, etc.) argues effectively for Israel's withdrawal from the occupied territories—unilaterally, if necessary—on the grounds that it will make Israel more secure. A history professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he details the change in Israel's military thinking after its 1967 victory in the Six-Day War and claims it's time to change once again. Creveld proposes a "military revolution": more mobile forces and a more decentralized command system that will be more capable of countering terrorist threats. This should be accompanied by a withdrawal from the Palestinian territories, he contends, which are sapping Israel's military and moral superiority at levels that far outweigh their economic and ideological value. While he admits that an Israeli withdrawal will not completely rid the country of terrorism, he asserts that it will likely take away some of the motivation for suicide bombers. He also argues forcefully that the conventional threat to Israel from Arab states has passed and that the nuclear threat, post–Saddam Hussein, may be exaggerated. At a time when the debate is bogged down and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is stuck in a back-and-forth with his party over withdrawing from Gaza, Creveld's innovative ideas deserve a wide readership. Maps. Agent, Artellus Ltd., U.K.
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