University of California Press, $45 pb, 344 pp
Barack Obama has promised to change the way America does things. If he is serious about this when it comes to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, we can only hope that he will read Neve Gordon’s examination of Israel’s post-1967 rule of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The subject matter, and the occasionally choking academic writing, do not make for a pretty story. But the book might serve to temper the new president’s apparently effusive support for Israel. That country’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, and its determined settlement-building programme, are an ongoing disaster for Israelis and Palestinians alike.
Gordon, from Israel’s Ben-Gurion University at Beer-Sheva, observes that one of the striking aspects of the occupation has been the rising number of Palestinian fatalities. In the first two decades after 1967, a total of 650 people died (annual average, thirty-two). In the thirteen years from 1987 to the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising in September 2000, the figure totalled 1491 (annual average, 106). From September 2000 to the end of 2006 it reached 4,046 (annual average, 674). The number of Israelis killed also increased dramatically: a total of 422 between 1987 and September 2000; 1,019 from then until the end of 2006.