The Only Language They Understand by Nathan Thrall
Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review

However, as earnest as he is in illuminating the problems, Thrall remains partial and selective in probing them. A troubling and truculent history of the still-stalemated search for peace in the Middle East.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

In a myth-busting analysis of the world's most intractable conflict, a star of Middle East reporting, "one of the most important writers" in the field (The New York Times), argues that only one weapon has yielded progress: force.

Scattered over the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea lie the remnants of failed peace proposals, international summits, secret negotiations, UN resolutions, and state-building efforts. The conventional story is that these well-meaning attempts at peacemaking were repeatedly, perhaps terminally, thwarted by violence.

Through a rich interweaving of reportage, historical narrative, and powerful analysis, Nathan Thrall presents a startling counter-history. He shows that force—including but not limited to violence—has impelled each side to make its largest concessions, from Palestinian acceptance of a two-state solution to Israeli territorial withdrawals. This simple fact has been neglected by the world powers, which have expended countless resources on initiatives meant to diminish friction between the parties. By quashing any hint of confrontation, promising an imminent negotiated solution, facilitating security cooperation, developing the institutions of a still unborn Palestinian state, and providing bounteous economic and military assistance, the United States and Europe have merely entrenched the conflict by lessening the incentives to end it. Thrall’s important book upends the beliefs steering these failed policies, revealing how the aversion of pain, not the promise of peace, has driven compromise for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Published as Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza reaches its fiftieth anniversary, which is also the centenary of the Balfour Declaration that first promised a Jewish national home in Palestine, The Only Language They Understand advances a bold thesis that shatters ingrained positions of both left and right and provides a new and eye-opening understanding of this most vexed of lands.

 

About Nathan Thrall

See more books from this Author
Nathan Thrall is a leading analyst of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books and the London Review of Books and is a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, for which he has covered Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza since 2010. His writing and analysis are often featured in print and broadcast media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Economist, Time, CNN, Democracy Now!, PRI, and the BBC. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and daughters.
 
Published May 16, 2017 by Metropolitan Books. 337 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for The Only Language They Understand
All: 1 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Above average
on Mar 15 2017

However, as earnest as he is in illuminating the problems, Thrall remains partial and selective in probing them. A troubling and truculent history of the still-stalemated search for peace in the Middle East.

Read Full Review of The Only Language They Unders... | See more reviews from Kirkus
×