Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict
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Jerusalem 1913: The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict

3.36 of 5 stars 3.36  ·  rating details  ·  168 ratings  ·  35 reviews
A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist examines the genesis of one of the greatest political struggles of our time

Searching for the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict, historians for years focused on the British Mandate period (1920–1948). Amy Dockser Marcus, however, demonstrates that the bloody struggle for power actually started much earlier, when Jerusalem was still p

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Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 19th 2007 by Viking Adult (first published 2007)
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Elliot Ratzman
Until 1919, Israel-Palestine was under the control of the Ottoman Empire. Jerusalem was a multicultural city where Jews, Christians and Muslims lived, for the last time, in neighborliness and harmony. This short book, by an award-winning journalist, paints an unfamiliar picture of Jewish-Arab cooperation and culture in pre-Mandate Palestine. We get a glimpse of pre-Zionist Jewish communities in Israel, the worldly and educated Palestinian elite, and the growing tensions with the Zionist movement...more
Jonathan
I picked this up because the premise intrigued me: what if there was a moment, a turn in history, when things could have gone another way and there could have been peace in the Middle East? What if that peace was just another causality of World War 1, run into the sand and blood by Balkan separatists, marauding Turks and Lawrence of Arabia.

Sadly, you won't find that here. I'll save you the trouble: Marcus' argument, such as it is, that there was a chance for peace, as long as Jews, Arabs and oth...more
Tim P
The Israel/Palestine argument so often gets obscured by people who are completely ignorant of the history of the region prior to the 1940s (as I was prior to reading this book). Jerusalem 1913 provides a detailed account of life in the waning hours of the Ottoman Empire through the major thrust of Zionism and the Arab Nationalist movement. An absolute must read for people who want to form an informed opinion regarding the state of the current conflict. Challenged a large number of my previously...more
Lynn
Could not put it down. A must read for anyone trying to gain a broader understanding of the Palestine issue.

It amazed and shocked me how little of the story is ever told. There were parts and pieces of the story that of course any good student of history knows but you never mange to connect all the dots. The fall Ottoman Empire, The rise of the Young Turks, WW1, the financial strain on the French government, the German Militarization, the commitment of Zionist movement... really a great book.

I...more
CD
Amy Dockser Marcus has brought a journalists eye to a city she admits great affection for in this almost 4 star book. The 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner for Beat Reporting brings those skills to this story in a readable and captivating way. That this is not journalism specifically but a historical tale cheats the work of what a bit more depth and detail could have added.

The beginning of the turmoil that is the late 20th early 21st century middle east she encapsulates in stories from a pivotal if not...more
Benj
Oct 29, 2009 Benj rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ilps
I like Marcus' look back at an often-ignored period in Israeli and Palestinian history, a crisp and tragic moment in the steady collapse of relationships between the two (three) groups. I found her descriptions of the loss of common space and identity poignant but overly nostalgic, and she doesn't convince me that 1913 was a key landmark year from which events could have unfolded differently (as she asserts); rather, 1913 describes how the forces and trends that have led to today were already re...more
thad.miller
A very interesting and relatively non-biased take on a deep and troubling conflict. I have not read much about the Arab-Israeli conflict in part because I had a difficult time finding books that didn't take sides. Marcus not only seems to give a fair account but looks back to the early part of the 20th century for the origins of the conflict. Her thesis is that during this period choices were made by both Arabs and Israelis that put distance between the communities and sought to create completel...more
Bryan
Very interesting review of this author's thoughts on the turning point in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Found the discussion of the main players to be very interesting and was surprised that people like David Bengurion and Chaim Weitzmann were not more prevalent in this book. I am not sure I entirely agree that 1913 was the year which was most important in this conflict, nor that Jerusalem was the most important area, but fascinating nonetheless.

She does spend a good deal of time setting up the sc...more
Fred Kohn
An intriguing little book. I was introduced to many key figures that I was unaware of. Emphasis was put on the relationship of the Jews and Arabs to the Ottoman empire. What made this book unique for me was the emphasis on feelings rather than ideas. So although I already had a pretty good notion of the ideas of Theodor Herzl, his character came more real to me because of this approach.
Patrick
A clearly-written, detailed and yet simple explanation for the origins of the modern conflicts in Israel and Palestine. By illustrating the feelings on both sides, it becomes clear that Zionism was not universally accepted by Jews in its early years, but increasing tensions and a desire for a sanctuary and spiritual homeland led to many Jews to embrace it either ideologically or out of necessity.

And likewise, the growing Arab nationalism in the face of Ottoman and British suppression gave stren...more
Joan
Informative read on the origins of the modern conflict in Israel... started even before WW1.
Balika
I started out loving this book and what I learned about the history of the 'Israel vs Palestine question' but it sort of fizzled near the end. And became skewed. The author is married to an Israeli and is Jewish herself- I was wondering if she could maintain her reporter's non-bias but it turns out she couldn't. She did start out with a very empathetic description of the Palestinian response to the Jewish zionist 'occupation' which I appreciated, however. In the end, I learned something... Is it...more
Doug
The author traces the lives of prominent Jews and Arabs in late-Ottoman Jerusalem with a romanticism that makes the reader suspicious. In the intro she suggests that the early 20th Century was a time that Jerusalem's current inhabitants could learn from: despite their differences, the parties lived in peace. She then writes for 200 pages about how the growing and increasingly organized Jewish population and the local Arabs who had been largely subjugated by the Ottomans didn't like each other so...more
Sharon
Informative and compassionate, Marcus explains how, between 1898 and 1934, Arabs & Jews came to the conflict they have today. Marcus argues that 1913 was the pivotal year in Arab/Jew relations, when another path could have been chosen and wasn't. It's hard to say whether she's right. This was, however, a good introduction to the time and place. Marcus looks at the events in Europe that led to Jewish settlement in Palestine as well as Arab and Ottoman responses.
Greg
Not real in depth but a good overview of some of the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Interesting to read about some of the historical figures that always came up in my Hebrew school classes and actually understand who they are. The more I read (and I haven't read much) the more I understand the complexities of this conflict, while at the same time not understanding what we're fighting about at all.
Mike Moskos
This audiobook has roughly 55 minutes of introduction. I can't help wonder why the author felt she needed so much explaining. Is it an attempt to mollify those who might shout down any historical examination that doesn't strictly follow the party line?

Nevertheless, it is a nice look at the events of 1913 in Palestine which has set the path for today's reality of a divided, apartheid state.
Cynthia
Extremely insightful, and a pleasure to read, I very much enjoyed reading this book. I finished it feeling much more educated about Arab-Jewish relationships during and just after the reign of the Ottoman Empire and about the pivotal events that occurred in Palestine around 1913. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to be smarter about the situation in the Middle East.
AJ Calhoun
"The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict" is terribly overconfident, I would have subtitled this "Some sordid and frustratingly diverted thoughts on jerusalem and some other places, tangentially" ... I'm quite interested in this topic and I've traveled within both countries working with the peace process, its just that Marcus does not do the topic justice.
Philippa
A very insightful and fascinating book which I just couldn't seem to put down. It was very refreshing to read a book about a highly sensitive subject such as the Arab/Israeli conflict which was unbiased and gave a clear overview of key events which spread out over more than a century.
Kori
Last summer, I wanted to become more aware of the conflict in the Middle East, so I picked up this book. It was a nice overview of the conflict, but I don't feel like the questions I had going in were answered. It seemed to me that something was missing from the book.
Susan Gallagher
I was looking for something to give me the back story on today's Arab Israeli conflict, and found the book quite informative. It was easy to read, and the way the author focused on four or so individuals to tell the story really gave it a human element.
James Kim
Focuses on the Ottoman empire's time controlling Jerusalem. Explores how political and social divides started between Arabs and Jews in early 20th century Jerusalem. Interesting general read, not propaganda.
Ray
I think the book was a good idea, filling in some gaps in general appreciation of the origins of the on-going conflict in the middle east, although it fell short of its potential.
Becky Curran
While I greatly enjoyed this book, I don't feel it lived up to the subtitle given. A great introduction for anyone wanting to know some of the background to the conflict.
Dana Woodaman
I learned a lot about the early days of the Zionist movement, and even more about the people involved, both Jew and Arab, who were involved.
Really interesting read.
T.r. Sune
I obviously enjoy the story of the conflict between the Arabs and the Jews is , but I fancy the vividness of the author's description of Jerusalem.
Austin Wright
Great cast of characters. The Bibliography alone is worth the purchase.
Stanislav Sokolenko
Interesting for the vast amount of primary sources cited but too editorialised to be taken at face value.
Bethany armstrong
So far, so good...not biased like one might expect from someone so heavily invested in the area.
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