Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam's War Against the Jews by Mitchell G. Bard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mitchell Bard's Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam's War Against the Jews, is an information packed history of the Israeli/Arab conflict. Bard makes the argument that Muslim states, particularly those who are radical will stop at nothing to see Jews wiped from the face of the Earth. I was gripped with the intensity with which the Israeli Jews fear for their lives.
The book is useful; I would have liked a few more sources, especially for those areas speaking against Israel's enemies. I know I can search online, but when I'm in the middle of a book, the last thing I want to do is to go online and get distracted while trying to find some piece of information that I expect to be in a book like this. Bard includes several sources, but there are a few places where he doesn't—and in those places they would do a lot to strengthen his side of the argument. As I pointed out, Bard includes a fair number of sources; a bibliography would facilitate the further study of these issues.
Bard argues that the conflict is at that bottom a religious one rather than a political one. It could be political using religion to carry our its ends. It wouldn't be the first time and that interpretation can be gathered from Bard's book.
I'm reminded while reading Death to the Infidels to try to look at both sides of the issue. When so much smoke and mirror propaganda and spin is being used by both sides of the issue, it's very difficult to know where to stand. From my view, which is not in the thick of it, I can see that both sides have done atrocious things to the other; that many people: soldiers, as well as non-military fighters, as well as civilians not involved in the fighting—innocent men, women, and children have died in this conflict that goes on for so long that media in the West stops covering because it's no longer news.
My heart breaks for the Israeli Jews who just want a homeland and it breaks for the Palestinians who want the same thing. It breaks for all those who are caught in the middle of this religio-political melee.
It's difficult to read/research both sides because each side has its own suffering and each side has its spin-doctors. I tend to agree with what Daniel Gilbert writes in Stumbling on Happiness, “When pro-Israeli and pro-Arab viewers [of news] are shown identical samples of Middle East news coverage, both proponents claim that the fact clearly show that the press was biased against their side” (168). They also claim that the other side started it. Gilbert later writes: “Alas, the only thing these facts clearly show is that people tend to see what they want to see” (168, emphasis in original). Bard has made it easier to see the Jewish side, and the fear that keeps the Israelis from giving in to the demands of the Palestinians.
According to Bard, every time the Israelis have given an inch, the Palestinians have taken a mile and have continued to bring terror in the form of firing rockets and suicide bombings. He makes the point, however, that when Israel fires back in defense, they are reprimanded by other nations. It's also interesting that each side claims that the West, especially the U.S. is aiding the other side: the Palestinians say that the U.S. helps Israel; Israel says the U.S. helps Palestine. Books like Bard's are important; he's not afraid to go against the current “politically correct” flow and to tell it like he sees it. He pulls no punches in saying that those who want Israel's and especially the Jews' demise are not moderate and radical, but should rather be called radical and more radical. He quotes (with sources) several who call for the decimation/annihilation of the Jews even if it takes centuries. Because of the lengths to which these radicals are willing to go, Bard argues, Jews and Israel have a long, hard road ahead of the them.
Bard covers a lot of information in a short book, and all of it is important. Read this if you're interested in this heart-wrenching conflict that has cost so many lives and will cost many more before it's over, if it will /can ever be over. I for one hope (probably foolishly) that Bard is wrong, even a little. Alas, it's not very likely: just look at the new escalation that is in the news right now (18 July 2014).
NOTE: This book is due to be published in September 2014.
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