To paraphrase an axiom from American sports about scorecards and players, "If you don't know the documents, you don't know the Arab-Israeli conflict. " For example, in his major address on December 16, 2001, Yasir Arafat mentioned such documents as the Tenet and Mitchell understandings, four United Nations (U. N.) resolutions, and no less than seven Palestinian-Israeli negotiations—Oslo, Wye River, Camp David, Sharm ash-Sheikh, Paris, Taba, and Cairo.
Precise use, nuance, and varied interpretations of words and phrases in documents and speeches have made and plagued the history, politics, and diplomacy of Arab-Israeli conflict. Laqueur and Rubin have provided 160-plus entries in this sixth edition. It is a fine assemblage of political speeches, diplomatic exchanges, declarations, manifestos, and policy statements. Most entries focus on the origins and evolution of the Palestinian-Israeli dimension of the conflict. Palestinian, Israeli, U. N. , British, and U. S. entries predominate. Adequate coverage of the Egyptian-Israeli and Jordanian-Israeli dimensions of the conflict are provided. Less than half a dozen entries deal with Syria and Lebanon; still fewer concentrate on the role of Europe and the Soviet Union since the 1950s. Half the book's contents pertain to the post-1979 period.
Some important entries are omitted. Other than the 1980 Venice declaration, none of the important European Union position papers on the conflict are presented nor is the 1982 Brezhnev plan. The next edition should consider including the 1930 Passfield white paper, the 1945 Arab League's formation, elements of the 1948-49 Arab-Israeli armistice agreements, resolutions of the 1967 Khartoum and 1974 Arab summit meetings, the September 1975 U. S. -Israeli memorandum of understanding, the December 1975 Brookings Institution panel's paper, "Towards Peace in the Middle East," the May 1977 Carter-Asad press conference, the 1991 speech of Syrian foreign minister Faruq ash-Shar‘ at the Madrid peace conference, the 1995 Beilin-Abu Mazin agreement, and the published January 2000 draft of the proposed Syrian-Israeli peace treaty.
Adding these and other documents, and removing those of lesser value will improve the next edition of this reader. For students, scholars, laymen, and interested professionals, a book of this variety is essential. All would benefit from an index and short introductory explanations for each entry. In its niche at present, no other book matches The Israel-Arab Reader.