The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East (Third Edition) by David Hirst. Pub: Nation Books, New York, 2003. Pp: 626. Pbk: US$17.95.
When this book was first published in 1977, it was one of the first, and certainly the most comprehensive and damning, historical works decontructing the zionist myths of Israel’s creation. David Hirst, a former Middle East correspondent with The Guardian (London), produced a massively documented history that destroyed numerous shibboleths of Israeli history going back to the emergence of zionism late in the nineteenth century, and demonstrated beyond any doubt that it was the zionists who were primarily responsible for the violence that has blighted Palestine. It was this book, it is particularly worth noting, that exposed the fact that zionist terrorists were responsible for attacks on Jews in Iraq and other countries after the creation of Israel, to scare Jews into moving to Israel.
This third edition is also welcome because it is really Hirst’s original major work, published along with new 130-page foreword which is virtually another book in its own right. This brings the story up to date, discussing the Oslo peace process, the intifadas, the Israeli war on Palestinians, the power of the Israeli lobby in the US, and the growth of dissent and the polarization of politics in Israel itself. It also discusses reactions to earlier editions of The Gun and the Olive Branch, and the way in which pro-zionist academics have falsified Israeli history and legitimised zionist myths. Unlike the original book, this foreword reads more like a polemical essay than a work of research; but it is no less damning for that.
This is a book that needs to be read by all those interested in the history of the Israeli problem. The tragedy is that the friends and supporters of Palestine simply do not have the facilities for promoting the truth that Israel’s supporters have for promoting their myths.