In this clearly written, provocative, and well-balanced study of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Lochery (as the title implies) sets as his starting point the Israeli security fence. After noting that the idea for the fence had been first suggested by Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, Lochery, while acknowledging that the fence does serve to stop terrorists, asserts that it will not serve as a long-term solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Throughout the book, he is equally critical of Arab and Israeli policies. He raises serious questions about Israeli intelligence services in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur war, especially in the cases of Iraq and Libya , about the writings of the conflict's revisionist historians, such as Avi Shlaim, which he calls "a little far-fetched," and about the policies of Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Given the brevity of the book and the enormity of the subject, Lochery presents a number of aspects of the conflict superficially, and occasionally, erroneously, and this is the main weakness of The View from the Fence. Thus, for example, he cites the Sinai agreement of 1975 as "the first such agreement between Egypt and Israel," overlooking the fact that the Sinai I agreement of 1974 preceded the Sinai II agreement of 1975. Similarly, he lists the number of Israeli settlers in Gaza before the 2005 disengagement as 18,000 instead of 8,000.
Lochery is not afraid to state his opinions, some of which are outside the consensus of Middle East scholars. While this makes the book quite stimulating, sometimes his assertions may be a bit questionable. Thus, he asserts that Israel would not have invaded Lebanon in 1982 except for the "collective Israeli trauma caused by the 1973 war." One could make another case, such as the fact that the Palestine Liberation Organization had formed a state within a state in southern Lebanon that was threatening Israel and that the Arabs were divided over the Iran-Iraq war, thus providing Israel both cause and opportunity.
In sum, readers will find the book of more than passing interest due to Lochery's strong opinions, but the book cannot be recommended for newcomers to the study of the Arab-Israeli conflict.