The Shift

Israel-Palestine from Border Struggle to Ethnic Conflict

November 2010 9781849040853 144pp


The size and intensity of the Israeli army’s operations since 2000 as well as the unprecedented scale of settlement construction brought about a qualitative change in the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis, altering it, Klein argues, from a border conflict to an ethnic struggle, pure and simple. Jewish Israel has now established its ethno-security regime over the whole area, from Jordan to the Mediterranean, a process that was accelerated and facilitated by election results in Israel, the United States and the Palestinian Authority. Arguing against the prevailing wisdom, which describes Israel’s control system as merely one of ‘occupation’, in The Shift Klein contends that it is based now on twin ethnic and security pillars and seeks to include Israeli citizens of Palestinian origin. The core of his book examines the current ruling structure of the shrinking Jewish majority over the almost majority Palestinians and its different levels: Israeli Palestinian citizens, the residents of Jerusalem, the two West Bank groups divided by the Separation Barrier and those living under siege in the Gaza Strip. The Shift is based on primary sources and data that usually are published separately. Klein weaves them into his ground-breaking book, offering the reader a comprehensive portrayal of the on-the-ground realities and providing a new framework for understanding the status of the durable Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


‘A brilliant and compelling account of the hard ground truths that now shape the Israeli-Palestinian struggle and seem to preclude a happy outcome. … if you still believe in the possibility of Israeli-Palestinian peace, and especially if you don’t, this book is for you.’ — Aaron David Miller, author of The Much Too Promised Land: America’s Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli Peace

‘This dense little book, a fact-filled account of Israel and the Palestinians since the June 1967 war, treats not peace-process politics but actual developments on the ground. … Klein likens Israeli control of the Palestinians to colonialism, with striking comparisons to Algeria under French rule. He hits another hot button in arguing cogently that the system amounts to apartheid, but a softer apartheid than prevailed in South Africa.’ — Foreign Affairs

‘Menachem Klein shines an intense light on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, illuminating the stark realities and dispelling a great many myths. Concise, detailed and thorough, The Shift explains why a two-state solution is so difficult to reach –– and is more pressingly necessary than ever before. Anyone hoping to understand the conflict should read this book immediately.’ — Gershom Gorenberg, author of The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements, 1967-1977

‘A highly insightful examination of the consequences of Israeli policies in the disputed West Bank territory since 2000.’ — Joshua Sinai, counterterrorism studies consultant

‘Klein’s central premise –– that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has morphed from a territorial dispute into an ethnic conflict –– is right on the mark. Yet he also convincingly demonstrates that the factors that divide the Israeli and Palestinian ethnic communities are not unbridgeable. His cogent defence of the two-state solution is a must read for specialists in conflict and peace studies in general, and for all those interested in fostering a feasible and just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular.’ — Miriam Fendius Elman, Syracuse University.

‘The strongest part of the book is the material and analysis on the settlers and how they are stitched into the military and bureaucratic structures on both sides of the 1967 border. We get a sense of the ideological forces from below that drive radical settlers, but also a sense of the powerful political and military structures that enable them to continue to expand.’ — John Chalcraft, LSE

Klein’s most critical work to date… an empirically rich reading of the contemporary Israeli-Palestinian struggle, which contributes to the on-going debates surrounding future peace negotiations and permanent resolution’ — Insight Turkey


Menachem Klein teaches in the Department of Political Science, Bar-Ilan University, Israel, and was a team member of the Geneva Initiative Negotiations in 2003. He has advised both the Israeli government and the Israeli delegation for peace talks with the PLO (2000) and was a fellow at Oxford University and a visiting professor at MIT. He is the author of The Shift: Israel-Palestine from Border Struggle to Ethnic Conflict, also published by Hurst.

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