The Transforming Fire

The Transforming Fire sets out to explain how the rise of Islamism is changing the nature of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

Imprint: Continuum
Pub. date: 18 Nov 2010
ISBN: 9781441166630
240 Pages, hardcover World rights
Translation Rights Available $29.95
For a time, the Arab-Israeli conflict seemed a fight over real-estate and recognition, but in recent years it has transformed into an existential battle between Israel and radical Islamism. Today, Israel faces a rising force that is committed to its demise.

Spyer provides a vivid account of what can now be called the Israel-Islamist conflict, outlining the issues at stake and gauging each side’s relative strengths and weaknesses. Israel faces not one united Islamist movement, but an array of states and organizations that share a wish to destroy Jewish sovereignty.

Combining narrative and argument, Spyer uses first-person accounts of key moments in the conflict to highlight the human impact of this battle of wills. A thought-provoking, balanced work, The Transforming Fire provides a new understanding of a particular aspect of the larger conflict between radical Islam and the West, which may well become the key foreign policy challenge of the 21st century.

Table of Contents
Prologue. “Not all of us will be coming back”
1. History’s Resurrection
2. Muqawama: Islamism’s rise
3. A New Jerusalem
4. The Middle East Cold War
5. Conversations in the Season of Remembrance
6. Broken Borders
7. A Grave Missed Opportunity
8. The Verdict of Deir Mimas
9. The Transforming Fire

Jonathan Spyer, Jonathan Spyer immigrated to Israel from Britain in 1991. He is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center in Herzliya, Israel, and a columnist at the Jerusalem Post newspaper. Spyer holds a PhD in International Relations from the London School of Economics and a Masters’ Degree in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He served in a front-line unit of the Israel Defense Forces in 1992-3, and fought in the war in Lebanon in summer 2006. Between 1996 and 2000, Spyer was an employee of the Israel Prime Minister’s Office. His articles have also appeared in the Guardian, Haaretz, London Times, Washington Times,Toronto Globe and Mail, the Australian, British Journal of Middle East Studies, Israel Affairs and Middle East Review of International Affairs.

“With talent and insight, Jonathan Spyer humanizes the impact of Israel’s having to fight a new enemy, not states but Islamist terror organizations, Hizbullah and Hamas in particular. Reading his book is poignantly and vicariously to live through the past decade of Israel’s turmoil, with its many attendant tragedies and its few triumphs.” — Daniel Pipes, Director, Middle East Forum


“Jonathan Spyer’s The Transforming Fire is a dazzling book but it is not a simple book. Steeped in learning, alert to nuance, comprehending of momentous changes in the world of the Muslims, he has written a work that deeply understands the Islamic threat to Israel and how Israel will defeat it.” –Martin Peretz, Editor in Chief, The New Republic


“Jonathan Spyer, one of the smartest commentators on the Middle East, has written a brilliant, heartbreaking account of life and death in contemporary Israel. A seamless weave of analysis and memoir, “The Transforming Fire” should be on the very short list of indispensable books about Israel and the Middle East conflict.”
-Yossi Klein Halevi, author of At the Entrance to the Garden of Eden, and Israel correspondent and contributing editor of The New Republic.


“To read The Transforming Fire is to discover a thoughtful Israeli who might well have been killed fighting Islamists. Making sense of it, Jonathan Spyer is clear that among other consequences Islamism has given the old Arab-Israeli dispute a new ideological character, one so intractable that Arabs and Israelis will be engaged in a test of strength for a long time. This is one of those rare books in which experience and ideas support one another, and altogether illuminate what to expect in today?s Middle East.” –David Pryce-Jones


About jonathanspyer

Jonathan Spyer is a Middle East analyst, author and journalist specializing in the areas of Israel, Syria and broader issues of regional strategy. He is the director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and analysis (MECRA), a research fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for strategy and Security (JISS) and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.
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