November 2017, marked a century of the Balfour Declaration which promised the “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. In the book, Enemies and Neighbours, Ian Black, who is a veteran British journalist and has spent over three decades covering events in the Middle East, writes an insightful, although mostly dispiriting, history of the Arab-Zionist conflict from 1917 till date. The book takes the reader along a linear history of the conflict, moving sequentially through its main events.
Each chapter is an excellent introduction to how the conflict unfolded. The book’s main argument is that Zionism and Palestinian nationalism were conflicting from the start but the ordinary Jews and Palestinians have cooperated in creative ways nonetheless. As Black notes, “The Israel-Palestine issue has a strong claim to be the most closely studied conflict on Earth,” (p.2). However, it adds that the Israelis and Palestinians have spent the last century dodging each other’s narratives and are still doing nothing to write a new one.