Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 (The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies)

9781611688108: Year Zero of the Arab-Israeli Conflict 1929 (The Schusterman Series in Israel Studies)

Winner of the Azrieli Award for Best Book in Israel Studies

In late summer 1929, a countrywide outbreak of Arab-Jewish-British violence transformed the political landscape of Palestine forever. In contrast with those who point to the wars of 1948 and 1967, historian Hillel Cohen marks these bloody events as year zero of the Arab-Israeli conflict that persists today.

The murderous violence inflicted on Jews caused a fractious—and now traumatized—community of Zionists, non-Zionists, Ashkenazim, and Mizrachim to coalesce around a unified national consciousness arrayed against an implacable Arab enemy. While the Jews unified, Arabs came to grasp the national essence of the conflict, realizing that Jews of all stripes viewed the land as belonging to the Jewish people.

Through memory and historiography, in a manner both associative and highly calculated, Cohen traces the horrific events of August 23 to September 1 in painstaking detail. He extends his geographic and chronological reach and uses a non-linear reconstruction of events to call for a thorough reconsideration of cause and effect. Sifting through Arab and Hebrew sources—many rarely, if ever, examined before—Cohen reflects on the attitudes and perceptions of Jews and Arabs who experienced the events and, most significantly, on the memories they bequeathed to later generations. The result is a multifaceted and revealing examination of a formative series of episodes that will intrigue historians, political scientists, and others interested in understanding the essence—and the very beginning—of what has been an intractable conflict.

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About the Author:

HILLEL COHEN is a senior lecturer in the Department of Islam and Middle East Studies, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.


“Without in any way justifying the extreme violence or the views of the perpetrators—or attempting to equate or rationalize individual attacks—Cohen successfully helps a contemporary reader understand the complexity of the conflict as it was both experienced and remembered. . . .  Year Zero is a highly intellectual yet accessible exploration of a formative period in the history of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and the creation of identity and historical perspective. While not written about contemporary events, its thoughtful, holistic approach sheds great insight on conflict today in origins, practice, and memory.” —Jewish Book World

“Cohen has produced a brilliant book—meticulously researched, exhilarating, intimidating and more than occasionally disturbing.” —Marginalia-LA Review of Books

"Hillel Cohen’s remarkable recent book. . . . For those who want a portal into the two hearts of darkness at the core of the struggle between Jews and Arabs in Palestine and Israel, it is a great journey."—Partners for Progressive Israel

“Cohen’s analysis of the situation in 1929 goes very much against the grain of the usual Zionist narrative and even the non-partisan historical research concerning this period.”—Jewish Review of Books

“Cohen’s work is a valuable resource in these horrendous times. . . . He has a rich, dialectical understanding of the Jewish-Arab relationship, and though he would never compare the occupier to the occupied, his writing will make Jewish and Palestinian readers equally uncomfortable.”—Yonatan Mendel, London Review of Books

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