Peacemaking in a Divided Society: Israel after Rabin

Article excerpt

edited by Sasson Sofer. London and Portland: Frank Cass, 2001. 260 pp. $24.50.

This edited collection by Sasson Sorer, Chairman of the Department of International Relations at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, is "an interdisciplinary effort to study the domestic sources of Israeli foreign policy, in particular those related to the peace process" (p. 1). As the editor notes, the authors represent a number of perspectives, but "no claim is made for completeness" (p. 1). And it is not, either in the subjects covered or in the points of view presented.

The editor has assembled a generally well-known group of scholars who approach the subject matter from a variety of perspectives, disciplines, and methodologies, although most are political scientists and international relations specialists. The impressive group of authors are among the leading experts on Israel and its domestic and foreign policies. Many of them are well known and well published and their contributions here are predictable both in coverage and conclusions.

The research was conducted over the period from 1995 to 1997 and thus suffers from the delay between the research conducted and the publication of the results. As a consequence some elements seem anachronistic or outdated in 2002.

On the whole the data presented, the analysis conducted, and the conclusions reached seem both interesting and logical for the period under consideration. Some, of course, have been overtaken by events since the research and the writing of the book. And, while one could quibble or quarrel with some of the conclusions and some of the assumptions, especially in retrospect, the material presented here is a well constructed piece of good social science that explains the situation as it was and suggests possible lessons for the future.

This reviewer was particularly struck by two of the conclusions reached and presented herein. One is the notion that foreign and defense policies (that is, matters relating to war and peace, to security matters) are the dominant concerns of, and factors in, Israeli elections and in the minds of Israeli voters. And, at the core remains the Arab-Israeli conflict. …