The second volume under Karsh's editorship examining Israeli history [1] tackles the two dominant concerns of the Israeli state's short history—war and peace. Divided into three parts, the first section follows the period from the outbreak of Jewish-Palestinian armed conflict in the run-up to the establishment of the Jewish state until the 1967 war. Of particular interest here is the chapter on the inter-communal conflict between Jews and Palestinian Arabs in Mandatory Palestine that preceded the 1948 war. This "forgotten war," as the author, David Tal, calls it, bears some striking similarities to the current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, such as the military strategies adopted by the Haganah (the precursor of today's Israel Defense Forces) and the difficulties faced by the Palestinian Arabs due to their military inferiority and their internal political divisions. In rejecting the United Nations partition plan of 1947, the author argues, the Palestinians "opted for a war for which they were unprepared and ill-equipped." Much the same could be said for the Palestinians and their rejection of Barak and Clinton's partition plans.

The second part of the book deals with changes in Israel's approach to national security. Although there is little new here, one chapter by Edwin S. Cochran provides a useful, concise history of the development of Israel's nuclear program. The final section of the book examines the efforts at Arab-Israeli peacemaking. Except for one chapter detailing early contacts and negotiations between the Zionists and non-Palestinian Arabs during the final years of the Ottoman Empire, the focus is upon the Arab-Israeli peace process in the 1990s. In light of the recent outbreak of the Israeli-Palestinian hostilities, a number of the contributions here provide some useful perspective concerning both the strengths and weaknesses of the Oslo peace process. Given the current state of affairs, the question mark in the book's title now appears prescient.

[1] Articles first appeared in Israel Affairs, Spring/Summer 2000.