Israel

Method and Madness by Norman G. Finkelstein

Method and Madness by Norman G. Finkelstein

Norman G. Finkelstein’s latest volume chronicling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Method and Madness, immediately outlines the scope of the book in the preface. Unlike his earlier books, such as 1995’s seminal Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, here Finkelstein focuses on a narrow temporal and substantive series of events: the evolution and escalation of Israeli military operations in Gaza between 2006 and late 2014. Rather than developing a broad explanation of the socioeconomic and geopolitical forces which have long prevented a resolution of the decades-long conflict, Method and Madness seeks to explain three major Israeli operations in Gaza: Operation Cast Lead (2008-9), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012), and Operation Protective Edge (2014). Finkelstein provides a contrarian account of “the accepted interpretation” and the “key triggers, features, and consequences” of each new operation by  chronologically tracing Israel’s strategic and domestic political developments across successive assaults (xi). Throughout this concise book, ancillary issues are brought into focus, including Israel’s relations with key Western allies—such as the United States, notably—as well as the domestic Israeli political actors’ motives for rhetorical and military escalation of strategies against the Gazan population. Overall Method and Madness remains a primarily descriptive account, albeit one which will resonate with longtime critics of Israeli policy in the Occupied Territories, and one which explores primary source accounts of the three operations in extraordinary detail.

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