The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood

Front Cover
Beacon Press, 2007 - History - 288 pages
A timely and compelling examination of the Palestinian dilemma, named one of the 100 best books of the year by Publishers Weekly

In Resurrecting Empire, Rashid Khalidi dissected the failures of colonial policy over the entire span of the modern history of the Middle East, predicted the meltdown in Iraq that we are now witnessing with increasing horror, and offered viable alternatives for achieving peace in the region. His newest book, The Iron Cage, hones in on Palestinian politics and history. Once again Khalidi draws on a wealth of experience and scholarship to elucidate the current conflict, using history to provide a clear-eyed view of the situation today.

The story of the Palestinian search to establish a state begins in the era of British control over Palestine and stretches between the two world wars, when colonial control of the region became increasingly unpopular and power began to shift toward the United States. In this crucial period, and in the years immediately following World War II, Palestinian leaders were unable to achieve the long-cherished goal of establishing an independent state—a critical failure that throws a bright light on the efforts of the Palestinians to create a state in the many decades since 1948. By frankly discussing the reasons behind this failure, Khalidi offers a much-needed perspective for anyone concerned about peace in the Middle East.

“Rashid Khalidi is a historian’s historian. The Iron Cage is his most accomplished effort to date . . . Magisterial in scope, meticulous in its attention to detail, and decidedly dispassionate in its analysis, The Iron Cage is destined to be a benchmark of its genre.” —Joel Schalit, Tikkun

“At heart a historical essay, an effort to decide why the Palestinians . . . have failed to achieve an independent state.” —Steven Erlanger, New York Times

“Khalidi, tackling ‘historical amnesia,’ brilliantly analyses the structural handicap which hobbled the Palestinians throughout 30 years of British rule . . . Khalidi restores the Palestinians to something more than victims, acknowledging that for all their disadvantages, they have played their role and can (and must) still do so to determine their own fate.” —Ian Black, Guardian

“Khalidi uses history to provide a clear-eyed view of the region and assess the prospects for peace. He strives successfully for even-handedness.” —Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon’s Trumpet and Make No Law

“. . . we have to open a dialogue with Hamas—not to embrace it, but to lay out a gradual pathway that will bring it into relations with Israel. As Rashid Khalidi, Columbia University’s Palestinian expert and author of The Iron Cage points out: ‘If we let the Palestinian Authority be destroyed, and then we keep Hamas isolated’—even though it won a democratic election that we sponsored—‘we will end up with the hard boys, the gangs you see today on the streets of Gaza, who respond to no authority at all.’” —New York Times, Thomas L. Friedman

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - SGTCat - LibraryThing

When I started reading this book, I wasn't very familiar with the details of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and I felt that the book was very argumentative and aggressive. After reading more books ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Savagemalloy - LibraryThing

Too much left wing bias, but need to keep reading these to stay balanced. Read full review


Arab Society in Mandatory Palestine
The Palestinians and the British Mandate
A Failure of Leadership
The Revolt 1948 and Afterward
Fateh the PLO and the PA The Palestinian ParaState
Stateless in Palestine
July 241922 The Council of the League of Nations

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2007)

Rashid Khalidi, author of six books about the Middle East—Sowing Crisis, The Iron Cage, Resurrecting Empire, Origins of Arab Nationalism, Under Siege, and the award-winning Palestinian Identity—is the Edward Said Chair in Arab Studies and director of the Middle East Institute at Columbia University. He has written more than eighty articles on Middle Eastern history and politics, including pieces in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and many journals. Professor Khalidi has received fellowships and grants from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the American Research Center in Egypt, and the Rockefeller Foundation; he was also the recipient of a Fulbright research award. Professor Khalidi has been a regular guest on numerous radio and TV shows, including All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, Morning Edition, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Nightline.

Bibliographic information