Israel, Islam, and the Middle East
In The War on Error, historian and political analyst Martin Kramer presents a series of case studies, some based on pathfinding research and others on provocative analysis, that correct misinformation clouding the public’s understanding of the Middle East. He also offers a forensic exploration of how misinformation arises and becomes “fact.”
The book is divided into five themes: Orientalism and Middle Eastern studies, a prime casualty of the culture wars; Islamism, massively misrepresented by apologists; Arab politics, a generator of disappointing surprises; Israeli history, manipulated by reckless revisionists; and American Jews and Israel, the subject of irrational fantasies. Kramer shows how error permeates the debate over each of these themes, creating distorted images that cause policy failures.
Kramer approaches questions in the spirit of a relentless fact-checker. Did Israeli troops massacre Palestinian Arabs in Lydda in July 1948? Was the bestseller Exodus hatched by an advertising executive? Did Martin Luther King, Jr., describe anti-Zionism as antisemitism? Did a major post-9/11 documentary film deliberately distort the history of Islam? Did Israel push the United States into the Iraq War? Kramer also questions paradigms—the “Arab Spring,” the map of the Middle East, and linkage. Along the way, he amasses new evidence, exposes carelessness, and provides definitive answers.
• Elliott Abrams, senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign Relations:
The best antidote to academic assaults on Israel and false versions of Zionist history is Martin Kramer. These essays on Israel and on current Arab and Islamic politics show him at his best: a sharp, wise, and very funny guide. If you’ve read this all before, read it again; time has only made his analyses more telling. If you don’t know Kramer, you’re in for an intellectual feast.
• Josef Joffe, fellow of the Hoover Institution and the Freeman-Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University:
What is the Talmudic spirit? It is to poke, probe and provoke, never to let received notions stand. Today’s Middle East harbors more half-truths and willful misrepresentations than oil under its sands. Concepts like ‘Orientalism’ are ideologies posing as dispassionate scholarship. Islamism is a magnet for apologists blind to the region’s cultural pathologies. Terrorism is transfigured into legitimate anti-colonialism, even though the Arab world has been independent for two, three generations. Martin Kramer has done the ‘Talmudic’ thing, exposing sloppy or mean-spirited thinking with an incisive mind and first-rate empirical research. This collection is required reading for anybody who prefers intellectual rigor to ideological obfuscation.
• Gilles Kepel, professor at the Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and member of the Institut universitaire de France:
Martin Kramer is a major scholarly contributor to the worldwide political debate about the contemporary Middle East. Not all will agree with his strong views, but they are always stimulating and challenging, and it is worth taking up such a challenge in the unprecedented chaos that the region has witnessed since 9/11, both within its ever-changing borders and in its complex relations with Europe and America.
• Michael Mandelbaum, Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies:
In The War on Error, Martin Kramer, an eminent scholar of Middle Eastern affairs, fearlessly and eloquently exposes the myths, half-truths, and outright lies that pervade the public discussion, and so inhibit public understanding, of the region he knows so well.
• Michael Oren, member of Knesset and former Israeli ambassador to the United States:
Martin Kramer, a preeminent and prolific scholar of the Middle East, provides expert and singularly clear-sighted insights into this crucial region. Whether writing about the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the West’s relations with Islam, or the global struggle against terror, Kramer is at once deeply informed, courageous, and engaging.
• Itamar Rabinovich, president of the Israel Institute and former Israeli ambassador to the United States:
Martin Kramer spans an unusual range. He is a first-rate historian of the modern Middle East who is as masterful with social media as he is with the traditional archive. This new collection of essays and papers deals with the most current issues in Middle Eastern politics and policies from a perspective that only a profound historian possesses. But Kramer is not encumbered by his academic baggage; he writes well and vividly. I sometimes disagree with him but I always read carefully and learn something new or different. I strongly recommend the book for the professional and the lay reader.
• Ruth R. Wisse, former professor of Yiddish and comparative literature, Harvard University:
Correcting error is the indispensable first step in stopping terror. No one writes better on the Middle East, its distorters and misinterpreters than Martin Kramer. He must be read—to be believed.
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4128-6499-2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4128-6433-6
Publication Date: October 31, 2016