An outstanding contribution to Middle Eastern studies

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

Aisha Khan

Rabi' al-Thani 23, 1419 1998-08-16

Book Review

by Aisha Khan (Book Review, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 12, Rabi' al-Thani, 1419)

PALESTINE DOCUMENTS by Zafarul-Islam Khan (comp. & ed.), New Delhi: Pharos Media & Publishing Pvt Ltd, D-84 Abul Fazal Enclave-I, Jamia Nagar, New Delhi 110 025, India, 1998, Hbk.894 pages. Price: US$30.00.

The Palestinian question dominates the Middle East and the Arab-Israeli struggle, preoccupying the world since the early 1920s when the judaization of a predominantly Arab country began. British military might and Jewish money power combined under the guise of a League of Nations ‘mandate’ to implement the Balfour Declaration through which another people’s country was promised and delivered to immigrants of a religious community scattered all over the world.

This monumental work (894 pages) is the first attempt in English to put together almost all the documentary records pertaining to the Palestinian Question from the very beginning to the present day including the full text of the Oslo Agreement and its annexes as well as the latest treaty signed between Israel and Jordan. Documents have been sourced from British Government papers and inquiry commissions reports, Israeli laws, UN, Arab League, zionist organizations and PLO resolutions and documents including the Palestinian national charter where the articles objectionable to Israel have also been pointed out. Short introductions and annotations to many texts provide context and background to the documents. It also contains 24 maps about all the stages of the modern Palestinian history in addition to authentic basic information and facts and figures about Palestine.

An introductory chapter brilliantly sums up modern Palestinian history in an historical overview which puts the issue in sharp perspective. Many documents available only in Arabic have been translated into English especially for this work which has been compiled and annotated by the well-known scholar, Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, a keen student of the Palestinian issue for over three decades. His works on Palestine include his MA thesis in Cairo University (1978) about the Palestinian Arab resistance to judaization, a study of a sacred Jewish scripture, al-Talmud (Beirut 1971) and a history of ancient Palestine: Tarikh Filastin al-Qadim (Beirut 1973). Among his recent contributions is ‘Focus on Palestine’ (1993), a three-part special issue of the Muslim & Arab Perspectives which he edits in addition to the Journal of Islamic History. Both these internationally-acclaimed journals are published by the Delhi-based Institute of Islamic & Arab Studies which he heads. The Institute recently organized a two-day international academic seminar in New Delhi on the Palestinian Question.

The book is a major contribution to the Palestinian studies and a basic tool for researchers in the Middle Eastern studies. No library should be without it.

Muslimedia: August 16-31, 1998

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