Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

Article excerpt

Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem

At last the aficionado's reference book on Palestine and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict exists. Issa Nakhleh's Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem is not an encyclopedia in the usual sense of alphabetically arranged entries, but it is encyclopedic in its collection of extremely useful information on all aspects of the conflict. It is the kind of book that anyone truly interested in the small, day-by-day details that make up the enormity of the conflict could spend months and years perusing with fascination and revelation. No library, private or public, worthy of the name can be without this immense cornucopia of research on everything from Arab land ownership to Zionist land confiscations.

Nakhleh has mined major archives such as the Public Records Office in London, the United Nations files, Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics, British Mandate government files and newspapers, books and other publications with meticulous care. The result is a series of lists, chronologies and reviews of such topics as the destruction of Palestinian villages, Jewish terrorism in the pre-state period and Israeli air attacks against Jordan and Lebanon among many other subjects. It is also filled with such nuggets as a list of Palestinian scholars of the Mandate period as well as exhaustive citations of all the various international agreements, treaties and laws pertaining to the conflict.

Such a wealth of material raises an immediate and compelling question: How reliable is all this information? A close reading reveals the encyclopedia's thousands of entries to be faithful and accurate to their sources. And Nakhleh has chosen his sources well, with major emphasis on government reports and such scholarly publications as the Middle East Journal of Washington's venerable Middle East Institute. Readers can feel confident that his facts are correct, no mean accomplishment in books on the Middle East. I do not know of any other work so suffused with so many useful and meaningful--and carefully culled--facts.

Nakhleh's narrative is a different question. He was born into Mandate Palestine and was a law student in London before World War II, only to see his property--his Upper Baka home, his Jerusalem apartment, his Belsan plantation, even his law books--all lost in the Jewish aggression that established Israel in 1948 far beyond the borders the United Nations had recommended. …

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