There is a fascinating fluidity to how Israelis view their shared history — and intertwined moral destinies — with their Arab neighbours. The evolution of that tortured relationship is slow and inexorable but also constant. “Inch by inch,” is how one prominent rightwing politician once described it to me, sitting in a café in Ariel, one of the most divisive settlements in the occupied West Bank. In the distance, the towers of Tel Aviv glimmered. Students at the local university milled around, the impression of calm pierced by the casually slung automatic rifles on the shoulders of passers-by. “Nothing happens here overnight — it takes time,” he said. “But you have to imagine it, and then slowly, you have to make it real.” Two recent books, Preventing Palestine, by Seth Anziska, a lecturer at University College London, and Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu, by Anshel Pfeffer, an exhaustingly prolific writer and journalist, trace a similar arc. In Anziska’s deep...

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