January 25, 1999 12:00 PM

PBS (Sun.-Mon., Jan. 24-25, 9 p.m. ET)

With the Middle East peace process stalled once again (as Israel awaits a May election), the time is right to absorb this balanced five-hour documentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict. An exhaustive history by television standards, the British-made program covers all the major developments, from the founding of Israel in 1948 to the wars of 1967 and 1973 to the short-lived optimism generated by last fall’s Wye River agreement. Filled with fascinating details and insider accounts (from interviewees including former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George Bush and Jordan’s King Hussein), the documentary tells its story almost entirely from the point of view of diplomats, political leaders and military men. What the viewer misses is more testimony of average Israelis and Arabs—the ones who have fought this seemingly endless war on the ground, and the ones who must long for peace.

Bottom Line: Valuable upper-level history course

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