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Saturday, August 2, 2014

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A primer on the Jewish state

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Barry Rubin is a straightforward, no nonsense observer and analyst of the Middle East. Never shy, occasionally gruff, Rubin speaks his mind and writes without ambiguities. His research is thorough, his familiarity with the subject matter unassailable.

As the director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, and as the editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Rubin has a perfect perch from which to observe and study quickly unfolding events in the region as well as the punditry from around the world that purports to inform the uninformed and/or curious of the import of those events.

Anyone familiar with Rubin’s writing will know that he doesn’t mind pointing out, especially to western analysts and journalists who regularly opine on Israel and the myriad conflicts in the Middle East, the flaws in their conclusions. According to Rubin, a great many of the western “experts” just don’t get it when it comes to Israel. They are often unfamiliar with the historical background of the peoples in the area and of their cultural differences and are hard-pressed or unwilling to upgrade themselves in the deficient areas for many reasons, not least of which is a failure to speak or read the local languages.

But their lack of sound, substantive grasp of the subject of the State of Israel has never inhibited western journalists and analysts from commenting on any number of aspects concerning the Jewish state. Indeed, Israel and its conflict with the Palestinians are probably two of the most written about subjects in the vast corpus of western journalism and the western blogosphere. 

Thus, Rubin has attempted to fill a small part of the large void of ignorance by providing a primer on the modern Jewish state called Israel, An Introduction (Yale University Press, 2012).