The Palestinian Right to Israel
by Alex Grobman
(Balfour Books: New York, 2010) 325 pp

Reviewed by Jack Frank Sigman, Master’s Candidate in International Relations at American Military University

In The Palestinian Right to Israel Dr. Alex Grobman has produced a well written and referenced book that will be useful in scholarly research for those attempting to portray the Israeli-Arab conflict as a singularity dealing with legal and moral rights in the Palestinian region.

Dr. Grobman starts the book with the proof of uninterrupted Jewish presence on the land for thousands of years and a denial of the often claimed history of peaceful relations between Arabs and Jews for hundreds of years prior to the late 1800s when the beginnings of modern Zionism resulted in the influx of secular European Jews into the region. Apparently, that history of prior peaceful relations is not so. I have to admit; this stance of pre-modern Zionism harmony has always struck me the same as claimed by white Americans living in the pre-civil rights American South, that during pre-civil rights days, they lived in harmony with African-Americans. In reality, African-Americans knew that any claim to equality would be met with unrelenting violence, so passive acceptance of inferiority was the only path of peaceful co-existence.

Next, Dr. Grobman deals with the legality (or illegality) of the British promise to the Arabs, via Sir Henry McMahon to King Hussein, in that Sir Henry did not have the authority to offer the Palestinian region to King Hussein, regardless of the fact that the British had no intention of offering such. While this is an interesting tidbit, it might not be worth an entire chapter. Additionally, this topic might be boiled down to communication issues between alien cultures, with the British failing to understand that no Arab ruler would agree to relinquish Islamic land.

The next three chapters: Arabs Resort to Violence, Arab Activities During WWII, and The Jewish Contribution to the Allied Cause During WWI and WWII, are attempts to show a distinct moral difference between Arabs and Jews, at least as it is considered in adherence to Western societal ideals. However, as already noted, it appears inherent in Arab Islamic culture to act in any manner possible to prevent the loss of Islamic land. While the Arab actions listed by Grobman may seem (and they certainly seem that way to me) to be morally reprehensible, Islam is based on a different view of morality and many of these actions are acceptable and well within Islamic norms of that day. Further, it hardly seems fair, especially in modern times, to consider shifting rule from one people to another as a reward for service. That may have been the norm during the time of absolute monarchs but is certainly not a practice deemed kosher in the modern age.

The sixth and penultimate chapter deals with Israel’s legitimacy, the main issue of this book. Beginning with a diatribe against what might be considered the uber-left of American Jewry; for their embarrassment of Jewish nationalism and for promoting Arab nationalism in the Middle East, Dr. Grobman continues with another history lesson which is almost a compression of the previous chapters albeit with additional information denoting the right of Israel to exist as well as the need for Israel to exist.

The conclusion deals with the bond between the Jewish people and the land. Additionally, Dr. Grobman points out what many of us suspect yet keep an aura of silence about; the conflict is currently irresolvable.

All in all, this short tome is a great book to be used in settling the arguments heard over and over again at pro-Palestinian rallies, conferences where the evil of Israel is the main topic, college classrooms when the topic strays to Israel’s unacceptable behavior, and in blogs such as MondoWeiss, where the unrelenting anti-Semitism and Israel bashing is based on erroneous information. However, that also points out the main technical lack in the book that can easily be corrected in the next edition; the index is horrible.

Of the 326 pages in this book, 63 are devoted to the over 600 footnotes, 60 pages for the bibliography, and only eight pages devoted to the index. Additionally, the footnotes are not identified by the chapter names and the chapter numbers are not noted on each page. With 63 pages to contend with, without the aforementioned, note checking becomes burdensome. I recall reading a slightly inaccurate statement regarding the UN vote for partition, on pages 115-6, where Dr. Grobman reports that two-thirds of the states voted for partition. In reality, two-thirds of the states voting, voted for partition. Ten states abstained from voting and one state was absent. Therefore, only 58 percent of the member states voted for partition. However, it took almost rereading the entire book to find the discussion.

The last troubling aspect of this book is the title. When I picked it up, I braced myself for a work not unlike Francis Boyle’s “proof” of the Palestinian’s right to the land.1 However, it is the complete opposite. The title could be, as mentioned by Dr. Wagner in his review of this book, out of a “sense of irony on the part of the author” or “that the Palestinian case does not merit serious examination.”2 Dr. Grobman himself, in an interview3 stated “The idea was suggested to me by a marketing expert…. The idea was to be provocative” and so it is. However, I see it more as a ploy for the book to be picked up by someone who is anti-Israel and then be informed that there is another side and a world of evidence supporting that side.


1. Boyle, Francis. 2003. Palestine, Palestinians and International Law. Atlanta, GA. Clarity Press.

2. Wagner, Leslie. 2010. “Rights as a Zero-Sum Game.” Jewish Political Studies Review 22 (3): 135-137,177-178.

3. Robinson, Heather. 2011. “A conversation with Alex Grobman.” New Jersey Jewish Standard.