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  You are in: Home > Middle East Studies > David Ben-Gurion, the State of Israel, and the Arab World …  

David Ben-Gurion, the State of Israel, and the Arab World, 1949–1956

Zaki Shalom

Zaki Shalom is a senior researcher at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute at Ben-Gurion University. He is also member of the research staff at the Institute for National Security Studies. He has published extensively on various facets of Israel’s defense policy, the Arab–Israeli conflict, and the role of the superpowers in the Middle East, and Israel’s struggle against Islamic terror. He is the author of Israel’s Nuclear Option.


Foreword by Avi Shlaim

1 Israel and the Arab World – Strengths and Weaknesses
2 The Vision and Reality of an Arab–Israeli Peace Agreement
3 The Limitations of a Political Arrangement
4 Israel’s Perception of the Arab Threat – The Dilemma of Daily Security
5 The Territorial Status Quo and the Armistice Borders
6 Advantages of a Settlement and the “Lost” Peace


“Zaki Shalom’s aim in writing this book is not so much to defend or criticize Ben-Gurion as to give a detailed and accurate account of his attitude towards the Arab world in the period between the 1948 war and the Suez war of 1956. Shalom recognizes at the outset the distinction between policy and statements, between the operational and the declaratory levels of policy. He is concerned not with Ben-Gurion’s practical policy towards the Arabs in the period under investigation, but with his views, his attitudes, and his statements.

The value of the book is not limited to the light it sheds on Israel’s founding father during the first eight years of statehood. By focusing on David Ben-Gurion during this crucial period, the book highlights some of the central dilemmas with which the Zionist movement has had to grapple ever since its inception towards the end of the nineteenth century. These issues include the moral case for a Jewish state, the extent of its territorial claims, the nature of the conflict with its Arab neighbours, the use of force, and the possibility of peaceful coexistence. All these issues remain of burning interest and importance today, following the breakdown of the Oslo peace process and the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising.” From the Foreword by Avi Shlaim, St Antony’s College, Oxford

“Shalom devotes much attention to the relations betwen Ben-Gurion and his foreign minister (and temporary successor) Moshe Sharett, finding that the two differed on matters of defense policy but saw eye-to-eye on Israel’s requirements from a political settlement.” Middle East Quarterly


Publication Details

Hardback ISBN:
Page Extent / Format:
256 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Release Date:
April 2002
  Illustrated:   No
Hardback Price:
£50.00 / $70.00

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