|LA Jews for Peace
| Books on the Israel-Palestinian Conflict - Annotated Bibliography
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“In this ground-breaking and controversial history of the founding of Israel, noted Israeli scholar and peace activist Simha Flapan gives us the first true account of one of the most momentous political events of the century.”
“Drawing on the recently declassified material-from Ben-Gurion’s war diaries to minutes of secret meetings-Flapan reconstructs the real events of that critical time. Behind the received historical truths,” …. (those referred to above) “Flapan finds instead propaganda myths that have misguided Israeli policy to this day.”
Also brought to light is the enormous significance of the undercover alliance and collusion between King Abdullah of Jordan and the Israelis to cut the Palestinians out of any independent state.
Blaming It On the Victims, by Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens, Verso Press. This is a collection of eleven essays by different writers, Palestinian, American Jews, Israelis, and others, on various fundamental aspects of the conflict such as; propaganda, the "Broadcasts" of '48 (there never were any), and other central distortions of the historical record, such as the Peters Affair, named after the author of a pseudo- history of Twentieth century Palestine. In order to justify the expulsion of the Palestinians the author distorted the Ottoman and British demographic data “proving” that the Palestinians are immigrants and therefore cannot be “expelled”.
These essays describe in considerable detail how the Palestinians both lost their land to the creation of Israel in 1948, and, in many quarters, lost sympathy by losing the public relations battle to Israel. Blaming It On the Victims bares the mechanism employed by Israel to tar the Palestinians as terrorists for fighting back against state terror. (Somewhat difficult to find. There are 3 circulating copies in the LA Library, but it has been available on Amazon.)
His idea was that there was no point in trying to accommodate Arabs while taking their land, since they would resist no matter what. Rather, a military “Iron Wall” was needed to crush all resistance in order to eventually have the Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, despair of ever defeating Israel, after which accommodation could then be reached.
The great irony being that Israel achieved this hegemony decades ago, but continues to choose military domination and expansion over political accommodation, to its own internal and international detriment.
The book is rich with detailed accounts of various leaders including the Ben-Gurion /Moshe Sharett division, Golda Meir, King Hussein of Jordan, Yitzak Rabin, and others. There is also rich details on material from Israeli archives such as Ben-Gurion’s “Plan Daled” under which Palestinians were expelled en masse from Israel by the Haganah (the pre-state dominant Jewish militia) at its creation in 1948.
Review by Edgar Hopida, Amazon.com.
This book is a crushing blow to the popular literature on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Using meticulous documentation of the hoax of Joan Peter's From Time Immemorial to Michael Oren's Six Day War, Dr. Norman Finkelstein gives us the truth of whats really going on in the region. He shows the Zionist intent from the very beginning about how the partition is but a temporary solution to an eventual conquest of all of Palestine. Detractors of the book probably never read this book and cling to the popular myths of the conflict.
Review by Harrifingers, Amazon.com.
Norman Finkelstein is a brave man who has received a lot of flak for writing this book. One response that authors who criticise Israel always have to contend with is the accusation that they are motivated by anti-Semitism or anti-Zionism. Jewish authors ... are additionally accused of being 'self hating' Jews. It's almost as if, in the eyes of Israel's unquestioning supporters, there can be no legitimate reason to criticise anything that Israel does. Maybe Israel, unlike any other country which has ever existed on Earth, is a perfect society which is completely above criticism - or is it?
The aim of this brilliant book is to ask questions about the view of Israel's history that Zionists would like the rest of us to believe. Many aspects of this history are hotly disputed so it's a perfectly legitimate area of study. Reading the book will probably challenge your preconceptions of the Arab-Israeli conflict and will make some people feel distinctly uncomfortable. But like nasty tasting medicine that ultimately does you good, it's essential reading for anyone who really wants to understand what's going on in that tragic part of the world. And the fact that all Finkelstein's opponents can do to counter his arguments is come out with the same old knee-jerk reactions says it all. Buy it!
Review by Reno de Caro "renodecaro," Amazon.com.
The thrust of Professor Finkelstein's unsettling book is that powerful interests (Israel and Jewish organizations in America) have hijacked what has become known as the holocaust. And while Israel has exploited the holocaust as a weapon to deflect criticism, regardless how justified, American Jewish organizations have used the plight of supposedly needy survivors to extort staggering sums of money from the rest of the world. This was done not for the benefit of survivors, but for the financial advantage of these organizations.
There are no conclusions reached in Professor Finkelstein's book that a careful reader of daily newspapers could not have reached, assuming the reader could read between the lines and base his judgment on evidence and common sense rather than the politically correct slant of the media reporting.
Finkelstein has infuriated his critics not by ranting or raving or misrepresenting the evidence, as they have accused him, but by painstakingly supporting his arguments with irrefutable documentation. The first line of defense of the mass media in America, one of the holocaust industry's most effective and compliant tools (second only to the Clinton administration), was to pretend Finkelstein's book did not exist. Once this tactic became ineffective due to an outpouring of Internet exposure, the mass media launched scathing attacks on the author and his book. Read the New York Times book review for one such "hit piece" and compare that review with your own reading of the book. Naturally, reading the book is something the review is designed to discourage.
Review by Albert Doyle, Amazon.com.
Part I of the book deals with the latest campaign by Israel's dogged supporters to convince us that the world is awash in a "new anti-Semitism" which turns out to mean any criticism of the Zionist state. The evidence is...nothing. Finkelstein shows that this a regular practice whenever Israel is forced to come close to actual peace.
In Part II Finkelstein deals with Dershowitz' attempts to paint Israel as not only innocent of human rights violations but as a paragon of virtue ("generally superb") in the face of unanimous opposite conclusions by every international body dealing with the subject. I would recommend that any reader first read Appendices II and III before the rest of the book to get an appreciation of Dershowitz' appalling misrepresentations. To make his case Dershowitz is compelled to denounce every human rights organization and the International Court of Justice. The latter not only found Israel's recently constructed "wall" built in the occupied West Bank illegal but also confirmed once again that the Israeli "settlements" - all of them - were likewise illegal, so the violations were not only offensive in themselves but were committed in illegally occupied territory. This book effectively exposes Dershowitz' claims which have been promoted by the Israeli government as "among the most spectacular academic frauds ever published on the Israel-Palestine conflict." Only a skillful and courageous Jew like Norman Finkelstein could have written and published this book.
Adam Shatz, the Literary Editor for The Nation magazine, has in Prophets Outcast, assembled an excellent anthology of writings by eminent members of the Jewish community. The book includes essays or excerpts from 24 leading Jewish intellectuals critically commenting on Zionism before Israel was created and prominent Israelis and Diaspora Jews after the creation of the “Jewish State” in 1948.
The title Prophets Outcast is borrowed from historian Isaac Deutscher, “himself a great Jewish dissident” to “underscore the terrible price these remarkably prescient men and women have paid for speaking out” against Zionism and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. These Jewish dissenters have been attacked for giving ammunition to Israel’s enemies or as “self hating Jews.” However, as Tom Segev, author of The Seventh Million, states in an endorsement on the publication’s cover, “This book is a timely and important reminder…that it is anything but un-Jewish to criticize the State of Israel.”
The collection is divided into 10 sections or themes. The sections are. “The Non-Jewish Jew;” “The Other Zionism;” “Marxists on the Jewish Question;” “The birth of Israel and the Destruction of Palestine”; “From Preemptive Conquest to Protracted Occupation;” “Zionism’s Internal Colony;” “The Use and Misuse of Holocaust Memory;” “Talking about Anti-Semitism;” “In Praise of Resistance;” and lastly, “The End of Oslo and the Return of Bi-Nationalism.” The 25 essays, or excerpts, comprehensively cover the topic of Zionism and the Israel-Palestinian issue. The approach of the editor covers the critique of Zionism primarily by Jewish leftists, Marxists and humanists. Isaac Deutscher, who is the inspiration behind the book, has two essays included in the volume, “The Non-Jewish Jew” and “The Israeli-Arab War, June 1967,” both from The Non-Jewish Jew and Other Essays (1968). Shatz calls Deutscher “the soul and inspiration of Prophets Outcast.” Also included in the book are excerpts from Leon Trotsky’s writings On the Jewish Problem (1934) and Abraham Leon’s “Zionism,” from The Jewish Question. A Marxist Interpretation (1940).
Left out from the collection are religious criticisms from anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews in the Neturei Karta and Satmar sects. Also omitted is the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism founded by 92 Reform rabbis in 1943 and criticisms from other Reform Jews such as Norton Mezvinsky and the late Rabbi Elmer Berger. Marc Ellis’s “The Palestinian Uprising and the Future of the Jewish People” from his Towards a Jewish Theology of Liberation. The Uprising and the Future (1988) is, however, included. Also included in the anthology is an excellent article written by Brian Klug, “A Time to Speak Out. Rethinking Jewish Identity and Solidarity with Israel,” from The Jewish Quarterly, which encompasses Jewish religious themes. Right wing Jewish criticism of Zionism from individuals such as Alfred Lilienthal, Mark Bruzonsky and Allan C. Brownfeld are absent.
An editor of such a collection has a daunting task to select samples of writings from Jewish dissidents. Contrary to what some supporters of Israel argue there are many Jewish critics of Zionism and Israeli policies. Before the full impact of the Holocaust was known most Jews were non-committal or openly hostile to the political ideology of Zionism and the creation of a “Jewish State” in Palestine. Prominent leftist Jewish critics of Zionism, who in my opinion merit consideration for inclusion into a collection of Jewish dissidents and who were omitted from this volume are, to name just a few, Isaac Asimov, Lenni Brenner, Uri Davis, Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Halevi (a Jewish Palestinian), Jeff Halper, Amira Hass, Eric Hobsbawn, Gideon Levy, Judah Magnes, Baruch Kimmerling, Ilan Pappe, Tanya Reinhart, Maxime Rodinson, Israel Shahak, and Avi Shlaim. Mordechai Vanunu also deserves honorable mention. However, the contributions of many of these individuals to the Jewish debate on Zionism and Israel’s policies have been acknowledged in the various essays in Prophets Outcast.
One notable omission is Avraham Burg, former chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, a prominent Israeli Labor Party politician, and from 1999 to 2003 Speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament. Burg has written a powerful critique of Zionism and Israel’s policy titled, “A Failed Israeli Society Collapses While Its Leaders Remain Silent” published in the Jewish periodical Forward on August 29, 2003. The article was first published in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot. The version run in The Guardian was titled “The end of Zionism.” The Israeli daily Ha’aretz did a follow up interview with Burg captioned “On the Eve of Destruction,” on 14 November 2003 where Burg did not apologize for his comments and the resulting furor. Tony Judt’s excellent essay “Israel. An Alternative Future” published in the New York Review of Books and included in Prophets Outcast discusses this important article written by a leading Israeli political figure. It is unfortunate that Burg’s essay could not have been included in this excellent anthology. There are previous examples of collections of writings of Jewish critics of Zionism. These include Zionism Reconsidered. The Rejection of Jewish Normalcy edited by Michael Selzer (New York. MacMillian, 1970); Zionism. The Dream and the Reality---A Jewish Critique edited by Gary V. Smith (New York. Barnes and Noble, 1974); and Jewish Critics of Zionism by Moshe Menuhin (Detroit. Association of America Arab University Graduates, 1976).
For recent examples of writings of Jewish critics of Zionism and Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians one could look at The Other Israel. Voices of Refusal and Dissent, edited by Roane Carey and Jonathan Shainin (The New Press, New York, 2002) containing the writings of 27 Israeli critics of Israel’s government policies and Zionism; Wrestling With Zion, edited by Tony Kushner and Alisa Solomon, (Grove Press. New York, 2003) containing commentary from 54 progressive Jewish-American writers; and Reframing Anti-Semitism. Alternative Jewish Perspectives, edited by Henri Picciotto and Mitchell Plitnick (Jewish Voice for Peace. Oakland, 2004). This last book contains the writings of 8 American Jewish peace activists. My attempt to review the Jewish debate on Zionism can be found in “Jewish Criticism of Zionism,” American-Arab Affairs, (now Middle East Policy) Winter 1990-91, Vol. 35, pp. 94-116. This article reviews over 160 Jewish critics of Zionism and can be found on the website of the Middle East Policy Council, as can a dozen articles by the late Israeli critic Israel Shahak. The collection in Prophets Outcast, includes writings from well-known Jewish intellectuals such as Hannah Arendt, Uri Avnery, Martin Buber, Noam Chomsky, Albert Einstein, Ahad Ha’am (a.k.a. Asher Ginzberg), and I.F. Stone. Yitzhak Epstein’s “A Hidden Question” (1907) on the existence of a large native Arab population in the proposed future Jewish national home is also included.
Three separate statements are included from Albert Einstein, which shows a conflicted but critical view of the Zionist project. Included in the book is the famous letter to the New York Times where Einstein and 27 other leading Jewish personalities condemned Menachem Begin’s Herut Party as “fascist” and preaching an “admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority.” Joining Einstein in condemning Begin’s Party were well-known Jewish intellectuals Hannah Arendt and Sidney Hook.
Michel Warschawski’s article “A Discourse on the border” is also included in the collection. Mikado, as he is affectionately known, is the head of the Alternative Information Center in West Jerusalem and a well-known Israeli peace activist.
These authors’ writings are fairly well known to informed readers on the issue of Zionism and the Arab Israeli conflict. In this review I propose to focus on material not as well known, at least to this writer. For this service we owe a debt to Adam Shatz for assembling this work in a format that makes it readily available to a wider audience. Shatz has, for example, included a little known letter written by Sigmund Freud, “Letter to the Keren Hajessod (Dr. Chaim Koffler) of the Palestine Foundation Fund,” (February 26, 1930) where he refused a request to add his prestigious name to a petition denouncing 1926 Arab riots in Palestine. To quote Editor Shatz, Freud “declined to do so, in an eloquent letter underscoring the dangers that religious fanaticism and aggressive nationalism present to Jewish security.”
Two important essays found in Prophets Outcast are articles on the “birth of Israel” and the expulsion of approximately 700,000 Palestinians from the “Jewish State.” The first is by Simha Flapan, the introduction and conclusion from his ground breaking book The Birth of Israel. Myths and Realities (1987). Shatz describes Flapan “as the true pioneer of the new historians” who debunked the myths surrounding the creation of the Jewish state and describes in detail the expulsion of the Palestinians. Flapan served from 1954 to 1981 as the National Secretary of the left-Zionist Mapam Party, which was part of the ruling Israeli Labor Party.
The second essay on the creation of Israel is by Gabriel Piterberg, titled “Erasures.” Piterberg is an associate professor of History at the University of California. He was raised on a kibbutz by Argentine Jewish parents. His contribution describes the “cleansing of Palestine” of its Arab population and the coining of the term “retroactive transfer’ and special campaigns to prevent the return of the Palestinian Arabs to their homes and property.
Piterberg provides extensive documentation, from sources like the semi-official Transfer Committee, headed by Yosef Weitz. This Transfer Committee formulated “what would later become the official Israeli narrative of the refugee problem” that the Palestinians abandoned their homes and left Palestine at the request of the Arab states. This narrative “became the standard version of history for propaganda and foreign policy purposes.” As Piterberg writes,”The narrative was fraudulent, and there is reason to believe that it was consciously fraudulent.”
Piterberg’s excellent essay also examines the “Present absentees” or Arabs who were still in Israel after the 1948-1949 War but who were denied all rights to their property. Another issue examined in “Erasures” is the “cultural obliteration” of Arab Palestine. Another first-rate essay in Prophets Outcast is “Occupation and Terror” by Yeshayahu Leibowitz. He points out the corrupting influence the Occupation has on the Jewish state. Leibowitz writes, “Israeli policy in the occupied territories is one of self-destruction of the Jewish state, and of relations with the Arabs based on perpetual terror.” Shatz states Leibowitz was often described as “the conscience of Israel.” Leibowitz was the author of many books on Judaism and ethics.
Another little known but important contribution to the critical debate on Zionism is Yehudi Menuhin’s “Mercy and Truth.” Menuhin was one of the world’s finest violinists and conductors of the twentieth century. In 1991 he received Israel’s prestigious Wolf prize for his contribution to music. In his acceptance speech on the floor of the Israeli Knesset he condemned Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. He stated, “this steady asphyxiation of a dependent people should be the very last means to be adopted by those who themselves know too well the awful significance, the unforgettable suffering, of such an existence.” Shatz, however, ignored an important aspect of Yehudi Menuhin’s background. His father was Moshe Menuhin, author of The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time and an outspoken anti-Zionist Jew.
One of the most incisive and powerful contributions to Prophets Outcast is an article by Ella Shohat, “Sephardim in Israel. Zionism from the Standpoint of its Jewish Victims,” originally published in Social Text in 1988. Shohat was born in Israel and raised by Iraqi Jewish parents. She is a professor of Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies at the City University of New York. She defines herself as an “Arab Jew.” Her critique of Zionism focuses on the discrimination and racism Sephardi Jews suffered in Israel due to their Arab cultural makeup. Shohat has assembled a disturbing list of racist characterizations of Arab Jews made by leading Israeli politicians which include David Ben-Gurion, Golda Meir and Abba Eban. Shohat writes,
The Sephardic cultural difference was especially disturbing to a secular Zionism whose claims for representing a single Jewish people were premised not only on a common religious background but also on a common nationality. The strong cultural and historical links that Sephardim shared with the Arab-Muslim world, stronger in many respects than those shared with the Ashkenazim [European Jews], threatened the conception of a homogeneous nation akin to those on which European nationalist movements were based.
Shohat also details the destruction of the Jewish Arab community caused, in her view, by Zionism. Shohat discusses at length Zionist attempts to lure Arab Jews to Zion. These attempts included “Operation Magic Carpet” to bring the Jews of Yemen to Israel and “Ali Baba” to ingather the Jews of Iraq. Since the Jews of Iraq showed little or no inclination to go to Israel, to quote Shohat, “Since the carrot was insufficient, therefore a stick was necessary.” She provides details of the Zionist bombing campaign directed against Iraqi Jews by Zionist agents to terrorize the Iraqi Jewish community to flee to Israel. As Shohat writes,” What its proponents themselves called “cruel Zionism”---namely, the idea that Zionists had to use violent means to dislodge Jews from exile—had achieved its ends.”
Sara Roy’s eloquent essay “Living with the Holocaust. The Journey of a Child of Holocaust Survivors” is about Roy’s experience as a child of holocaust survivors and her experiences living with Palestinians under Israeli occupation. She argues the lessons of the holocaust should be taken in the context of universal and not people specific values. Roy criticizes Israel for not respecting the Jewish past in Europe and draws parallels between the Jewish experience in Europe and Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.
Also included in Prophet Outcast is a powerful rejoinder to Harvard University President Lawrence Summers’ characterization of protests against Israel’s occupation as “actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect, if not in their intent.” Judith Butler, a professor of literature at the University of California wrote a rebuttal article “The Charge of Anti-Semitism. The Risks of Public Critique” which appeared in The London Review of Books. Butler argues that, “In holding out for a distinction to be made between Israel and Jews, I am calling for a space for dissent for Jews, and non Jews, who have criticism of Israel to articulate; but I am also opposing anti-Semitic reductions of Jewishness to Israeli interests. The ‘Jew’ is no more defined by Israel than by anti-Semitism.”
Brian Klug’s essay “A Time to Speak Out. Rethinking Jewish Identity and Solidarity with Israel” originally published in The Jewish Quarterly 2002-2003 is an excellent piece on the confusion and/or fusion of the Jewish identity with Israel. Klug makes many insightful criticisms of Zionism from a Jewish religious and cultural perspective. Klug is a British Jewish philosopher who has published widely on Jewish affairs. Shatz argues in his introduction that these Jewish dissidents are heirs to a prophetic Jewish tradition of moral criticism, and to the secular, cosmopolitan ideals of the Enlightenment, grounded in a commitment to human equality and solidarity. By opposing the injustices committed in their name, they have shown that there is another way of honoring the memory of Jews who perished in the pogroms and concentration camps of Europe, and that a concern for the fate of the Jews need not come at the expense of the Palestinian people.
We all owe Shatz a debt of gratitude for a book that, as he says, “pays tribute to a tradition of which few Jews---and even fewer non-Jews---are aware.”
I found this book to be a highly illuminating one about modern Israel from a sociocultural, Historical perspective. One need not agree with the analysis completely to appreciate the thoughtfulness and conviction that went into it or to learn from one man's compelling study of the dichotomy between individualism and communal values in contemporary Israel. Similarly it is a fine insider's view of the author's thinking about the pluralistic nature of Israli society today, contrary to the belief that Israel is a homogenous society, held by so many outsiders.
The moral dilemma for Jewish Israeli citizens posed by the distinction between a deliberate show of military force in defense of survival versus the extention of unnecessary militarism beyond that to an illigetimate use of power, is one of the central themes of the book. The title, "Rubber Bullets" is intended as a symbol of Israel's moral compromise between the alternatives of shooting real bullets at stone throwing Plesinian youths or doing nothing in the face of such hostility and ensuing danger. Ezrahi does not argue that the compromise was particularly effective on a practical level, hence the characterization of it as symbolic.
In my view, the author is a loyal Israeli who wishes to minimize military force to that which is necessary and to maximize the search for new ways of establishing peace amongst the parties involved. Because he does not subscribe totally to the communal values of collectivism and solidarity at the expense of the type of indiviualism and a subjective voice that is necessary for a liberal democracy to thrive, he will undoubtedly incur the wrath of those who will not tolerate any critical commentary about Israel.
One quarrel I do have with Ezrahi is based more on omission than commission. Perhaps it can be remedied through an updated and expanded version of the book yet to come. That is, I would like to read the author's recent analysis and proposed solutions to the ethical dilemmas that the Israelis are facing because of the repeated lethal barrage of suicide bombers in their state by terrorists.
Yaron Ezrahi is Professor of Political Science at Hebrew University.
This book is a wonderful and honest piece on the current situation regarding Palestine and Israel. All the facts are documented, and character attacks put out by the reviewers before me show the brainwashed and rejectionist mentality that effects western academia and media. This book goes well with Norman Finkelstein's book Image and Reality of the Israeli Palestinian Conflict and Fateful Triangle by Noam Chomsky. It seems that whenever scholars or people speak out against the unlawful practices of the Israeli government, people are labeled as anti semites and this and that. This cant be applied to this author or noam chomsky or norman finkelstein. All of them are Jews and all of them have documented the evidence. So instead of attacking this book based on rejectionist literature and models, confirm it from the sources its drawn on
The book has many detractors who all spout the myths of Israel's formation. Tanya Rheinhart is an Israeli.
Said was a University Professor at Columbia University where he has taught English and Comparative Literature from 1963 until his death in 2003. He was born in Jerusalem in 1935 and educated at Victoria College, Cairo, Mount Hermon School, Massachusetts, and at Princeton and Harvard universities. In 1974 he was Visiting Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard, in 1975-6 Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Science at Stanford, and in 1979 Visiting Professor of Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. He was editor of the Arab Studies Quarterly, and a member of the Council of Foreign Relations, New York, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the executive board of PEN. He has received Harvard University's Bowdoin Prize and the Lionel Trilling Award in 1976 and 1994.
Some critics have chosen to question what Edward Said means by 'real peace' and claim that, in truth, he seeks the destruction of Israel. No one who reads this book can be left in any doubt as to what he believes are the conditions necessary for a just and lasting peace.
For decades Edward Said has been a powerful advocate of a two-state solution, preserving the state of Israel within its pre 1967 borders. In this book he again and again condemns those who continue to argue for the elimination of the state of Israel and urges his fellow Arabs to accept the reality of the Jewish state. Indeed, he even goes as far as to brand those who refuse to have any dialogue with Israelis as racist. Anyone who was under the slightest illusion that Said is in any way making a case that even approximates to the destruction of Israel can be left in no doubt by the articles republished in his latest book.
Said argues very powerfully that the Israelis must recognise the wrong that has been done to the Palestinians, and that those who have been forced from their homes at gunpoint, dispossessed, their houses seized or bulldozed should either be permitted to return to their homes or should be compensated (not that all should have an automatic right or return). The Jews have been very vociferous in their campaign to see compensation paid to Jews for losses and suffering inflicted by the Nazis. Why then should they refuse to compensate those who have been dispossessed by Israel, the victims' victims, the Palestinians whose only crime was to live in Palestine?
Although some may think it is absurd to allow the native inhabitants of the land of Palestine the right to return to the land from which they have been expelled over the past fifty years, it is hard for Jews and their supporters to maintain such a position. After all, the principal of the Jewish Right of Return - which says that the land of Israel belong to Jews, wherever they live and that all Jews have an automatic right to 'return' - is the very cornerstone upon which the state of Israel was founded..
Said makes clear the historical context in which the dispute over Jerusalem must be seen. Israel has illegally occupied East Jerusalem since 1967. Its annexation is not recognised by any country in the world and the United Nations has consistently resolved that Israel must withdraw from all illegally occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, which has an overwhelmingly Arab population. The fact that Jews have lived their throughout history has no bearing on matters. Jews have also lived in a great many cities for a great many centuries - are we to allow Israel to annex any city with an ancient Jewish presence?
Then, of course, there is violence. Said's very simple point, which has been amply borne out by recent events in Israel and Palestine, is that if there is to be any hope for a lasting peace it must be founded upon a genuine settlement of the conflict, not some phony 'peace deal' which amounts to little more than formalising the Israeli dispossession of the native population. This is not threatening anyone but rather making plain the simple idea that peace must be made and not taken for granted. Peace must be based on mutual respect and an agreement reached between two parties treating each other as equals, something which Israel has consistently refused to do. (for example, the Palestinians are repeatedly required to 'recognise' Israel and guarantee the security not only of Israelis but also illegal Jewish settlers, but Israel refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of the Palestinians claim to statehood and refuses to guarantee the security of Palestinians).
Edward Said's book is a powerful, thoughtful statement from a committed Palestinian nationalist and highly respected academic. I do not agree with all he says but, nevertheless, I found the book thought provoking and engaging.
This book moved me more deeply than anything I have ever read, largely because it cleared away a troubling lie that was taught to me and every other Jew I know; that Israel came into being as an innocent upstart country whose existence was being threatened by blood thirsty Arabs simply for being a Jewish state. As an American Jew with close family in Israel, including one person currently on active duty in the Israeli army, I have been studying this history for many years and I have long been intensely curious to know what exactly happened in 1948. This book tells all in a clear and well documented account that leaves no doubt of the authenticity of the facts or the fairness of the perspective.
The great “inconvenient truth” still suppressed in the U.S. and (to a lesser extent in Israel) is that the Jewish communities in the U.S. and elsewhere have been fed a steady diet of lies surrounding the “birth of Israel”. This result has been that the arguably best educated ethnic group in the U.S. (along with Asians) have a institutionally dogmatic version of their own history of the most crucial event in Israeli history that is completely upside down, i.e. completely in contradiction to the facts. A complete fantasy that serves the Jewish superego with maximal dollops of self pitying fear mongering rivaling of 1930’s, well, we’re not supposed to go there- point Israeli propaganda campaign. Make no mistake; the facts are knowable and known beyond dispute, in spite of a diabolical campaign against them by the Israeli government through the “Israel Lobby”. The degree of efficiency of this campaign can be measured by the fact that to challenge it is considered taboo in both family or any other setting. What a coup. But it has had a cost; a spike in world wide anti-Semitism, and a heretofore unknown hubristic ignorance of a people whose bywords had been justice and accurate historical memory.
I’ve known for many years that the narratives I grew up with here in the U.S. in a Reform Synagogue were Israeli government issue deceptions similar to those used for the Gulf of Tonkin that was the Johnson administration’s false pretext for the escalation of the Vietnam war, or “weapons of mass destructions” scams here in 2002. I knew this because in the last ten years or so there had been a substantial uncovering of ’47-’48 realities once the Israeli military archives on 1948 were opened, by other Israeli “new historians” such as Benny Morris, Tom Segev, Avi Shlaim, and others. But other than Morris, who has recently endorsed the “transfer” of even more Palestinians contemporarily, no one to my knowledge has written as exhaustively as Pappe here on these events of 1947-48. This has been Pappe’s Holy Grail, and let me tell you folks-excuse the metaphor- he nailed it.
Forget about so-called “competing narratives”, here we are dealing with one of the great (and hidden) crimes of the twentieth century, the Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. To imaging that anyone can possibly understand the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without getting this bit of it right is impossible, one simply cannot. So what is has been missing for 60 years and most urgently needed now is finally delivered; a clear and focused scholarship where it counts, in the service of both justice and of the real Jewish tradition, which cannot be separated from justice itself.
The notion that Judaism or the historical “evolution of the Jewish People” has its apotheosis in the military victories and so-called democracy of the state of Israel is at odds with the facts, to the point of it being one of the greatest of all absurdities. How does one claim “democracy” when the means to it are by eliminating the majority by ethnic cleansing? The “big lie” of “little David” Israel, armed to the hilt with hundreds of nuclear weapons and an air force larger than Great Britain is one of the great triumphs of sheer propaganda ever known. Pappe getting this “bit” straight puts us all in his debt, Jews, non-Jews, Americans, Palestinians, and anyone who wants to know the truth of history and oppression.
This is the contemporary Jewish equivalent of Galileo proving to the medieval Catholic world that its dogma is fundamentally false, that its foundational “mythos” is a fiction in factual contradiction to reality- and proving it irrefutably. In this case, the fabrication of Israel the David defending itself against an Arab Goliath in 1948 is put to rest in one fell swoop. (Unlike Galileo, Pappe has thus far escaped prison, although he has been all but chased out of the country) but the last taboo, criticizing Israel, is on its way out in its last non-Israeli bastion; the U.S.
Since 1948, all Jewish institutions, and consequently virtually all Jews, have been in rapt lockstep agreement that the so-called “war of liberation” of 1948 was a valiant defense of the “Yishuv” (Jewish community of Palestine) against an Arab offense aimed at the extinction of the new state of Israel. The corollary was that the Palestinians picked up and ran away from homes they hadn’t left for over 1,000 years, at the broad urging of their blood thirsty leaders so as not to be in the way of advancing Arab Armies (sic). This book proves conclusively that not only was neither even remotely the case, but to the contrary, that Zionist forces initiated a war to implement an 11 year plan (Plan Dalet) to ethnically cleanse the (indigenous) Palestinian population from their cities and towns in Palestine- and succeeded in large part. Roughly 2/3 of Palestinians, about 750,000 people, were expelled by force including Arab majorities in the two largest cities, Jaffa and Haifa, and over 500 villages from the Negev to Lebanon, from the coast to the Jordan. Only a tacit agreement with Jordan and well executed defenses by Jordanian troops left the West Bank and Eastern Jerusalem outside Israeli control.
Not that all this is just “dueling narratives” or ‘just history’, since there is now talk even on the floor of the Knesset in Israel of beginning anew a policy of ethnic cleansing which is referred to euphemistically as “transfer”, and “cleansing” the remaining Palestinians from Western parts of Palestine and pushed into the future ghetto of Palestinian reservations in the West Bank and then into Jordan, which right wing Israelis (almost an oxymoron) call “Palestine” so that Palestinians will be “home”. All this even while the Israeli government openly and violently carries out collective punishment against the trapped population of Gaza, replete with partial starvation and air attacks on the most densely populated area on earth. The fact that Israel is brutally violating multiple international laws on a daily basis for 60 plus years with wanton disregard for the human rights of its captive Palestinian population is rationalized by a fear mongering Jewish community structure that was literally raised on the lies of the 1948 threat of blood thirsty “Arab” aggression pushing the Jews into the sea, when if fact the aggression was almost exclusively Israeli.
Pappe’s methodical documentation of this watershed historical moment is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking, with 19 pages of footnotes mostly from Jewish sources, most notably those of Israeli military archives and the dairies of David Ben Gurion and other Zionist/Israeli leaders of the time, who oversaw the execution of “Plan Dalet” (Plan D) including Yitzak Rabin, who personally supervised the expulsion of several Palestinian towns such as Lydda, which is was eradicated so we could fly into Ben Gurion airport.
Unfortunately, American opinion, diplomacy, and what passes for dialogue on the Israel-Palestinian question is whistling in the wind without acknowledging the overwhelming reality of the most pivotal single historical reality of this “original sin”; the Israeli ethnic cleansing of the late forties. It would be the equivalent of discussing American racism while denying slavery- it renders the discussion sterile. That is exactly why Americans and American Jews putatively as “brilliant” such as Alan Dershowitz, are talking through their collective hats, and why U.S. policy “fails” to solve anything in Israel-Palestine. That’s because the refugee issue is at the core of that conflict, and the U.S. Israel condominium refuses to discuss the issue because it goes to the demographic inviability of Israel; Israelis only constitute just less that half the approximately 10 million people of Palestine.
At bottom it does not fail because “justice” with reference to people without political clout can always “fail” without consequence here, and with only the occasional terrorist resistance in Israel. Israel’s “security” is at bottom only about being a client state to an Imperial military-industrial (-congressional-) complex’s, in Eisenhower’s words, client state, and the consequences that ensue. Israel’s so-called “security”, which is a complete non-sequitur without meaningful reference to the “security” of 5 million Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are under the foot of a brutal Israeli occupation of 40 years, if not actually refugees in other countries, are as organically driven to resistance as Jews were to leaving European anti-Semitism before, during, and after World War II. Although the Israeli Jews are living at a high material standard of living, if you know them at all, you know they also pay a heavy toll for being the hit-man for the empire. Tony Soprano might have been living high, and his leutanants did well, but they paid in many ways. Waking up out of the delusion of the Israeli/Jewish denial of 1948 is an important step toward the real goal of Zionism that will never come about by a Jewishly exclusive Israel; Normalcy- the kind you can only have with peace. When you look under the rock of Jewish denial, the sizzle comes off the false pride of the Israeli project. As an Israeli friend of mine once said, “we have to smell the coffee, even if it smells like shit.” Luckily, there is redemption in looking at the truth, no matter the flavor.
Israeli Jewish Liberation? Is it Jewish? Is it liberation? Read the book. Square that with the Prophets, and join us in the streets.
Review by William Podmore, from Amazon.com.
Pappe, an Israeli historian and a senior lecturer at Haifa University, has written a superb account of the Israeli expulsion of the Palestinians from their land in 1948. He quotes David Ben Gurion, leader of the Zionist movement from the mid-1920 until the 1960s, who wrote in his diary in 1938, "I am for compulsory transfer; I do not see anything immoral in it." This contradicts the Zionists' public claim that they were seizing a land without a people.
Pappe writes of the Israelis' March 1948 plan for evicting the Palestinians, "The orders came with a detailed description of the methods to be employed to forcibly evict the people. large-scale intimidation; laying siege to and bombarding villages and population centres; setting fire to homes, properties and goods; expulsion; demolition; and, finally, planting mines among the rubble to prevent any of the expelled inhabitants from returning."
Between 30 March and 15 May 1948, i.e. before any Arab government intervened, Israeli forces seized 200 villages and expelled 250,000 Palestinians. The Israeli leadership stated, "The principal objective of the operation is the destruction of Arab villages ... the eviction of the villagers." On 9 April, Israeli forces massacred 93 people, including 30 babies, at Deir Yassin. In Haifa, the Israeli commander ordered, "Kill any Arab you encounter."
This all happened under British rule in Palestine, where Britain had 75,000 troops. Britain's Mandate did not end until 14 May. The Labour government connived at the Israeli onslaught, although the British state was legally obliged as the occupier (and also by UN resolution 181) to uphold law and order. Yet the Labour government announced that it would no longer be responsible for law and order and it withdrew all the British policemen. It also forbade the presence of any UN bodies, again breaching the terms of the UN resolution. The government ordered British forces to disarm the few Palestinians who had weapons, promising to protect them from Israeli attacks, then immediately reneged on this promise.
On 24 May 1948, Ben Gurion wrote, "We will establish a Christian state in Lebanon, the southern border of which will be the Litani River. We will break Transjordan, bomb Amman and destroy its army, and then Syria falls, and if Egypt will still continue to fight - we will bombard Port Said, Alexandria and Cairo. This will be in revenge for what they (the Egyptians, the Aramis and Assyrians) did to our forefathers during Biblical times." These ravings of an insane warmonger hardly betrayed any genuine fear of a `second holocaust'. The Palestinians were suffering massive expulsion, not trying to destroy the Jewish community.
Pappe summarises, "When it created its nation-state, the Zionist movement did not wage a war that `tragically but inevitably' led to the expulsion of `parts of' the indigenous population, but the other way round. the main goal was the ethnic cleansing of all of Palestine, which the movement coveted for its new state. A few weeks after the ethnic cleansing operations began, the neighbouring Arab states sent a small army - small in comparison to their overall military might - to try, in vain, to prevent the ethnic cleansing. The war with the regular Arab armies did not bring the ethnic cleansing operations to a halt until their successful completion in the autumn of 1948."
Overall, the Zionist forces uprooted more than half Palestine's population, 800,000 people, destroyed 531 villages and emptied eleven urban neighbourhoods of their inhabitants. Pappe concludes that this was "a clear-cut case of an ethnic cleansing operation, regarded under international law today as a crime against humanity."
The author is a Palestinian who lives in Toronto
On March 23, 2006, John Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen Walt, a professor of international affairs at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, published a lengthy article called "The Israel Lobby" in the London Review of Books. Their thesis: a group of pro-Israel activists and propagandists is actively manipulating policy in Washington to benefit the Jewish state at the expense of the United States' national interests. The article had been on newsstands for just a couple of weeks when a neoconservative professor at Johns Hopkins named Eliot Cohen slammed it as "anti-Semitic" in the Washington Post. Similar criticism followed. piled on by making similar charges.
Mearsheimer and Walt were in the hot seat again in early September. A book-length version of their argument was barely in stores when David Remnick attacked it in The New Yorker for being "a prosecutor's brief that depicts Israel as a singularly pernicious force in world affairs." Given the kind of people who are criticizing Mearsheimer and Walt and the way the anti-Semitism card is used to silence dissent on the Israel-Palestine question, many might feel compelled to defend their thesis.
They should think twice before doing so. To be sure, Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites, and The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy does not portray Israel as uniquely evil or "singularly pernicious." But just because a book is not bigoted does not mean it is good, and the one that Mearsheimer and Walt have written suffers from significant methodological deficiencies. In expanding their 13,000-word article into a 500-page book (with more than 100 pages of notes!), they have succeeded mainly in exacerbating the flaws of their original argument. Because they blame America's Middle Eastern rampage on a knot of wily Zionist agents, they seem to think that the US role in the region would turn benign if those agents were removed.
The result is, bizarrely enough, an exculpatory portrait of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and the rest of the "Vulcans," whom Mearsheimer and Walt depict as naïve but fundamentally well intentioned. The American people should not blame them if they've made a mess of things in Iraq. It's not their fault, you see. Foreigners made them do it--or, if not foreigners, then Americans loyal to foreign interests.
This book does a wonderful job of explaining the tragedy of U.S. policy in the Middle East. Zunes powerfully illustrates how the more the United States has militarized the region, the less secure we have become. Perhaps more importantly, he shows how we have become the target of terrorists not because of our values butbecause our foreign policy has strayed from those values. It is particularly refreshing to find someone who not only recognizes that palestinian rights and Israeli security are dependent on each other, but understands how U.S. policy has harmed the prospects for both. The list of tragic blunders and policy debacles Zunes details is a longone, yet he concludes with clear policy alternatives and a sincere hope that through citizen action, our government's pursuity of Pax Americana will some day be replaced by a quest for justice and peace.
Back-cover blurb by Noam Chomsky.
A careful, informed and perceptive reconstruction of major historical forces in the Middle east and the world power nexus in which it is enmeshed. Zunes provides very valuble background for analysis and comprehension of wehat is at stake and where policy choices can be expected to lead. A very useful handbook to the complexitiesof the distrubed and fateful region.
Except for the USA and Israel, just about every country in the world has some compassion for the displaced Palestinian refugees. The truth is, Israel is not completely benevolent and has made (and is making) some atrocious mistakes, especially with regard to its treatment of the previous inhabitants of the land that is now called Israel.
The book gives a different side of the story that is generally accepted in the United States. As such, it has been attacked with the standardaccusations. it's anti-Semitic; Palestinians don't, and never have, existed; all Muslims/Arabs are terrorists and cannot be trusted; Palestinians have had their chance and passed; and so on. The same accusations are dusted off and re-released every time someone is even remotely critical of or questions Israel and/or its policies.
Do yourself a favor, read this book to learn another side to the Israeli-Palestinian story. And if you get interested, further reading is encouraged.
A thoughtful analysis of the Israeli/Palestinian situation, with some concrete suggestions and affirmations about the way to achieve peace in that land. From the first, Lerher strongly affirms that he is not anti-Palestinian, nor anti-Israeli; the purpose of the book, and indeed of the Tikkun Community which he represents, is to show how it is possible to be both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine.
The main recommendation that Lerner has is one which really strikes the reader as illogical at first, though on thinking it through it becomes obvious that it is, in my opinion, the only possible real resolution to the situation. That recommendation ~ stronger than a recommendation really, an urging, a plea ~ is for non-violence; not just the absence of violence, but as an active means for change, as Mahatma Gandhi used it, or Martin Luther King, Jr.
Excerpt from review by A. Kahana on Amazon.com.
Lerner presents a utopian view of the Israeli/Arab conflict. It might make for feel-good philosophy, but has nothing to do with reality. The Israeli/Arab conflict is not one of "criminals" but a religious and national war. . . . Lerner presents an American, Western, idealistic, "progressive" utopian vision. It is utter nonsense. Don't waste your time or money on it - you will learn nothing useful, only mumbo-jumbo. Pretending that we all can "just get along" is not only wishful thinking, it also subscribes to the idea that truth is relative, righteousness is relative, and that all sides are equally correct. In my opinion, this is dangerous talk.
In 2003, Anna Baltzer, a young Jewish American, visited the West Bank to discover for herself the realities of daily life for Palestinians under the Occupation. What she found would change her outlook on the conflict forever.
For eight months over the following four years, Baltzer lived and worked with farmers, Palestinian and Israeli activists, and the families of political prisoners, traveling with them across endless checkpoints and roadblocks to reach hospitals, universities, and olive groves. Baltzer witnessed first-hand the environmental devastation brought on by expanding settlements and outposts, and the destruction wrought by Israel's "Security Fence," which separates many families from each other, their communities, their land, and basic human services. What emerges from her journal is not a sensationalist tale of conspiracies and suicide bombers, but a compelling, trying, and inspiring description of daily life under the Occupation.
Through an insider's extensive interviews and documentation, Witness in Palestine reveals the truth about checkpoints, settlements, land confiscation, the Wall, and the countless everyday acts of nonviolent resistance that remain largely ignored by mainstream Western media. Baltzer's probing and honest examination of the Occupation and the pervasive spirit of nonviolence offers a fresh look at Palestine today.
Testimonial by Noam Chomsky.
"Even those who are familiar with the grim reality of the occupied territories will quickly be drawn into a world they had barely imagined by these vivid, searingly honest, intensely acute portrayals of unflagging courage, wanton cruelty, and enduring faith that through non-violent resistance fundamental decency will somehow prevail -- an outcome that lies very much in our hands. I cannot find words to express my admiration for the solidarity workers and peacemakers, international and Israeli, and the people of Palestine whom they are supporting in their struggles to survive and overcome."
Testimonial by Israeli activist Tanya Reinhart.
"Baltzer's moving and vivid memoir tells the story of the daily struggle along the Wall in the West Bank, with stories and pictures that capture not just the hardships, but also the resilience of the Palestinian people. It also tells the story of the courageous internationals like Baltzer, dedicating their time and energy to the struggle of the suffering, who give many of us hope that, with the people of the world working together, justice and peaceful coexistence in Israel/Palestine are possible."
"I am an Israeli. I live in Jerusalem. I have a story, not yet finished, to tell." This is the opening line of David Shulman's powerful and memorable book, Dark Hope, a diary of four years of political activity in Israel and the Palestinian territories. It is a record of the author's intense involvement with a volunteer organization composed of Israeli Palestinians and Israeli Jews, called Ta'ayush, an Arabic term for "living together" or "life in common." The group was founded in October 2000, soon after the start of the second Palestinian intifada.
"This book aims," Shulman writes, "at showing something of the Israeli peace movement in action, on the basis of one individual's very limited experience.... I want to give you some sense of what it feels like to be part of this struggle and of why we do it."
Struggle with whom? Shulman explains: "Israel, like any society, has violent, sociopathic elements. What is unusual about the last four decades in Israel is that many destructive individuals have found a haven, complete with ideological legitimation, within the settlement enterprise. Here, in places like Chavat Maon, Itamar, Tapuach, and Hebron, they have, in effect, unfettered freedom to terrorize the local Palestinian population; to attack, shoot, injure, sometimes kill—all in the name of the alleged sanctity of the land and of the Jews' exclusive right to it." His diary proceeds to show how this happens.
The occupation, the authors argue, has transformed the very foundations of Israel's society, economy, army, history, language, moral profile and international standing. "The vast majority of the 6.5 million Israelis who live in their country do not know any other reality," they write, "The vast majority of the 3.5 million Palestinians who live in the regions of their occupied land do not know any other reality. The prolonged military occupation and the Jewish settlements that are perpetuating it have toppled Israeli governments and have brought Israel's democracy and its political culture to the brink of an abyss. They have a state that emerged out of the catastrophe of the destruction of European Jewry, and from it drew the absolute legitimacy for the means of its establishment and for the very fact of its existence, has become a country that is being crushed from within and the subject of bitter controversy abroad."
The Israeli settlements have never been given a history of their own, rather they have been part of the polemic of 'conflict'. Leftists, liberals, Islamists, kahanists, all of them have talked about the settlements, but no one has bothered to explain them by themselves, which is what the world of academia and those interested in Israel have needed all this time. Finally this history, which tragically covers only the first ten years of 'occupation' in an immense 480 pages finally does justice to the settlements. The settlements were not some vast worldwide Jewish conspiracy, as the left of Europe claims, but rather they were some sort of mistake, accident and convoluted plan, facts on the ground without planning or logic. Some were religious, other secular. Some were built on ground already owned by Jews before 1948, such as Gush Etsion and Kfar Darom they were merely reclaimed, whereas some were built on 'crown lands' or government land and thus on 'stolen land'. Some were purely for religious reasons such as Kiryat Arba, some for strategy, some to stop infiltration(such as the Jordan valley), some to establish facts.
This is a brilliant and insightful book by an author who actually knows Israeli and Zionist policies and has real insights into the personalities of the men involved from Dayan to Allon and others. This is not the typical "Israeli greed for others land caused the settlements" that pretends the settlements were established in some logic by all of Israel and with a clear conspiratorial policy, rather this is a fair account that tells the real, honest, history behind what happened.
Abraham Foxman is the national director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). His denial that the ADL intimidates critics of Israel is harder than ever to swallow following the publication of The Deadliest Lies. Criticism that "faults specific Israeli policies and proposes realistic alternatives...is legitimate," he writes. But "criticism that condemns Israel simply for existing and implies that the only way Israel can satisfy its critics is by disappearing is not legitimate" (emphasis in original).
Thus, even asking why a Christian, Muslim or white state is discriminatory but a Jewish state is not is beyond the pale. Similarly, criticism that takes into account Israel's security concerns is permissible but not "criticism that ignores every problem Israel faces, assumes that its people and leaders can accomplish anything they desire instantly and without difficulty, and therefore concludes that only bad faith or evil motives can explain any failure or error on Israel's part." While it is OK to attribute "rejectionism, hatred, violence, and terrorism" to the Palestinians, as Foxman in fact does, it is not OK to attribute them to the Israelis, since that would mean charging them with bad faith or something else equally unpleasant. Only Palestinians are capable of terrorism, not Israelis, and if you don't understand how this can possibly be, just ask the people at the ADL. They'll straighten you out.
Statements like these are absurd, of course. The question, however, is not why people like Foxman utter them but why others take them so seriously. The reason is that such statements go to the heart of the US-Israeli alliance, an alliance that, until recently, few people dared question. Foxman sums up the situation quite nicely when he writes apropos of the Holocaust, "International complicity in that crime leads many people to feel that Israel deserves support as a way of saying to the Jewish people, 'We will never again leave you without a home and a safe haven from hatred.'" Foxman does not ask if establishing the State of Israel was an appropriate response to Nazi crimes, but at least he makes his position crystal clear.
Foxman insists that Israel is a "normal country." But if it is "a country much like any other," then outsiders should be free to criticize it with the same abandon with which they might criticize Britain or France. But if Israel was established as a form of restitution, a way of making amends for the unparalleled crime of the Holocaust, then it is not a normal country and outsiders must be careful about what they say about it, because they still owe it an enormous moral debt. Criticism is permissible except when it's not, and only the ADL and like-minded groups know whether the light is flashing green or red.
Kovel's book is the best survey of Zionism, its roots, its outcomes and why it is one of the most destructive ideologies today for Jews, Palestinians and the rest of the world. The primary conclusion that he draws is that the primary road to peace is the dismantling of Zionist ideology as a whole and putting in its place a construct based on Universal human rights and respect for the human dignity of all individuals.
What is unique about his analysis is that he looks at Zionism from all angles - including its psychological, sociological, religious, economic and geopolitical aspects. He then looks at the state of Israel and how the marriage of Zionism with all instutions of the state and society has created a haven for Jewish religious fanaticism, militancy, violence and racism. These aspects of the state and society are, because of the nature of Zionism, ever-increasing and becoming more and more dangerous, with no mechasims for self-correction.
For Zionists, hardcore believers or passive acceptors, reading this book will present them with a perspective that they have not likely heard before and a very important reality adjustment for their world view. For non-Zionists it will enable them to understand what exactly is so problematic with this Zionist ideology which has resulted in such strife for almost a century. Finally it presents a prescription for action to overcome Zionism both in Israel, the US and everywhere else.
I cannot recommend this book enough.
“As eyewitnesses to some of the major events of the conflict (between Israelis and Palestinians), the AFSC volunteers came to understand it better than most outsiders at the time. By examining these early efforts at peacemaking and assistance, historian Nancy Gallagher has uncovered essential insights for today's peacemakers, human rights activists, and humanitarian NGOs.”
This book draws from documents in the AFSC archives and interviews with former AFSC staff during a reunion in the early 1990’s. Nancy Gallagher is a professor of history at UC Santa Barbara, and co-director of its Center for Middle East Studies.
Back cover blurb.
This collection critically revisits the concept of the two-state solution and maps the effects of local and global political changes on both the Palestinian people and politics. The authors discuss the changing face of Fatah, Israeli perceptions of Palestine, and the influence of the Palestinian diaspora. The book also analyses the environmental destruction of Gaza and the West Bank, the economic viability of a Palestinian state and the impact of US foreign policy in the region. The authoritative and up-to-date guide to the impass facing the region is required reading for anyone wishing to understand a conflict entrenched in the heart of global politics.
The well-known liberal attorney and Israel advocate Alan Dershowitz maintains in this book that Jews should be more self-assertive. They shouldn't feel "shenda fur de goyim" (Yiddish for "shame before the Gentiles") as they did in the past. They should be proud of their achievements, instead of begging to be forgiven for them. They should abandon their "sha'a shtil" ("remain quiet") attitude and loudly denounce the faintest hint of anti-Semitism they might detect either in their personal experience or in society at large. And, most important of all, they should have no mixed feelings about supporting the state of Israel, regardless of this country's human rights record.
Dershowitz' writing is powerful, expressive - and flawed...
When it comes to discussing Israel's policies, Dershowitz adopts a maximalist stance. Israel is almost always right-and when it isn't, it doesn't matter. This civil rights advocate fails to find much wrong in a country where atheists do not enjoy the right to get married. He fails to clearly denounce the administrative detention (i.e., imprisonment without a charge) of Palestinians, on the grounds that all detainees are known to be terrorists or terrorist contacts; in other words, since they are anyway guilty, it doesn't matter so much whether they enjoy legal guarantees or not. He believes torture may in some cases be necessary to extract critical information, as of terrorist attacks, and therefore condones some instances of the government-approved use of torture in Israel, against international law which forbids any kind of torture...
The bottom line of [this] book is that because Jews were formerly persecuted, they should be allowed to practise some bigotry without being criticized. Fortunately, Jews around the world do not share this view...
This book will be enjoyed by... [those] who see Israel's legal and practical discrimination of Arabs as a first step towards ethnic cleansing, and who will be delighted to learn that a liberal Jew finds such discrimination tolerable. It will be far less welcome, however, by those Jews who, like the author of this review, don't like to be told what they should think about Israel in order to be good Jews.
I feel that this book is a must read for all Americans interested in U.S. - Middle East relations and the challenges to formulating a more balanced and just policies. Paul Findley, an Illinois Congressman for 22 years, examines the role of pro-Israel special interest groups in heavily influencing public officials and policy makers into making biased and counterproductive decisions impacting our relationship with the countries of an important region of the world. Findley has carefully researched and examined the extent of pro-Israel lobbying in this nation. While he defends the rights of American citizens to support causes they feel a moral obligation to, he argues eloquently that the interests of another country should never be placed above the interests of the United States.
Review by Christian Engler, Amazon.com.
Paul Findley has written one incredible, eye-opening book that calls into question the high pressure, unethical, slander tactics used against academics, religious figures, journalists and political figures who speak out against the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's overzealous involvement and desirous control of economic and military diplomacy as well as education. This is a group that nobody wants to mess around with. The power hungry citizens and 'big wigs' in this lobby have a disturbing amount of clout that really makes you look at government differently. To stand up and speak out against Israel's lobby and their very questionable dealings in national and foreign affairs is essentially to put a career/social/economic death mark on your forehead. The shady dealings that this group instigates and leads, whether it be on a large or small scale, undermines the ethics and principles for which this country and the Jewish faith stand for. This book is an education in itself. Although disturbing, because it makes the Constitution seem like a useless piece of paper with 'silly' writing on it, Findley's book is very benefical if you want to know how a facet of foreign and national policy operates.
In many respects Michael Neumann presents the most powerful and concise arguments against Israel's domination of the Palestinian people in print. He deftly shows that although Zionism was a minority movement at its inception . . . the bulk of Zionist planning and thinking was always intent on establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, one that either "transferred" Palestinians from the area or repressed their ability to achieve political parity, much less control, in the nation that would be named Israel.
Neumann is at his best on examining Israel's expropriation of the West Bank and Gaza and on how acquiring those territories provided Israel with the opportunity to settle the question of a Palestinian state once and for all. Israel could have unilaterally decided that the occupied territories would become a Palestinian state by working with Palestinian groups amenable to such a plan. . . . But Israel acceded to the wishes mostly of religious fanatics who settled in the occupied territories by the tens of thousands. Neuman cuts through all the nonsense about how Israel required the occupied territories as a security buffer to protect itself. If that is so, why would Israel allow its citizens to settle in area that it considered its first line of defense? Israel's occupation of the occupied territories (indisputably contrary to international law) can be summed up in two words: land grab.
Neumann correctly realizes that Israel is able to occupy the territories, colonize them, and deny the Palestinian people their fundamental human rights only because the of the United States' support, both financial and diplomatic. Neuman believes that the best way to sever that support is by showing that the USA/Israel alliance was born entirely out of the Cold War and continues merely out of habit. The USA, he argues, isn't thinking clearly. It no longer possesses a valid strategic reason for its support of Israel and, in fact, might be jeopardizing its strategic interests by continuing the support. . . . Neumann seems to believe the USA will never be convinced to sever its support for Israel's dominance of the occupied territories for reasons of justice, but only for reasons of strategic interest.
John Hagee is a powerful preacher, but he is not a theologian. This becomes evident as you read Jerusalem Countdown. Basically, the theme of the book is that Iran is preparing nuclear weapons, and that very soon, we will be seeing the invasion of Israel that Ezekiel prophesied in Ezekiel 38-39. Much of the book was right wing Zionism on steroids. I agree that someday Christ will reign over the earth in Jerusalem for a thousand years, and that the people of Israel will be back in the land. But I think that the gathering of the Jewish people into Israel is something that we should let God orchestrate (Ezekiel 39:25-29, Jeremiah 31:23, Isaiah 43:5-7, 51:11, etc) rather than to let it be the work of conservative activists.
Hagee make many errors of fact:
The book is a war-mongering, fear mongering tract designed to scare the wits out of people. There is no sense of God's love shown in Christ's death on the cross, no sense of hope, no discussion of the future millennium, no discussion of the final victory of God in the new heaven and the new earth.
The bottom line is that God is sovereign over history and by looking unto Jesus and putting our hope in Him, all things will work together for the good of those who love God (Hebrews 12:2, Romans 8:28).
The best part of this book is when Hagee compares the life of Jesus with the life of Moses, and with the life of Joseph.
John Quigley, professor of Law at Ohio State University and a leading American expert in humanitarian law, has written a 2005 update of his 1990 Palestine and Israel, An International Law Perspective. . . . The book is highly readable, despite numerous but unobtrusive academic footnotes; the story Quigley relates will stun many who thought they understood much of this historical background.
Quigley starts at the beginning of the Zionist movement that met with success, not from a groundswell of support from any Jewish community, but from the persuasion of British officials that a client state near the Suez Canal and oil fields would be useful to British interests. The British requested the British Mandate in 1922 which allowed the Zionist state to develop safely.
Quigley shows that the real start of Israel was not from the UN but was from US President Harry Truman. The UN General Assembly Resolution 181, which laid out a partition of Palestine in 1947 was merely a recommendation. The US had decided that the proposed partition was unworkable and its UN delegates were about to help draw up a trusteeship for Palestine when President Truman stunned everyone by recognizing Israel after Israel declared itself a state in May of 1948. According to Quigley, Israel had neither title nor legal claim to any part of Palestine until Arafat's recognition at the 1993 Oslo Accords.
Quigley notes that the rationale for Israel's existence as a Jewish refuge was enhanced by Zionist and Israeli actions. Jewish immigration after WW II was often as a result of either the lobbying of foreign governments to curtail the opportunities for refugees to move to countries other than Israel or Israeli intelligence operations that created the belief that Jews were under attack in various countries.
Quigley not only notes that Israel was the aggressor in the 1967 Six Day War which started the occupation of Palestinian and Syrian territory, but also discounts the Israeli rationale for its aggression, putting this instead in the context of Israel's various attempts to expand its territory.
Quigley describes the current grim situation of Palestinian civilians under occupation noting the legal legitimacy of their armed resistance to occupation forces, a resistance that is too often described as "terrorism" in our media. He notes that world judicial bodies give more legitimacy to those seeking their self-determination than to colonizers trying to maintain their power.
This fascinating book is filled with history in a legal context that will equip readers to speak knowledgeably about this situation. It is an important contribution to public understanding as well as media balance, which too often repeats a one-sided perspective of both history and ongoing events.
Hitler came to power at the end of January 1933 and anti-Jewish atrocities started almost immediately. Knowledge of the prompted spontaneous protests in the major cities of the world (New York, London, Paris) and a grass-roots boycott against German goods. The Nazi government was quite short of foreign exchange, so the boycott seriously threatened the stability of the Nazi regime.
The book describes tension within the Jewish community in the United States between Communists and average Jews who wanted to boycott, and the Jewish establishment that feared a boycott would make things worse for German Jews. The boycott movement collapsed when word of the transfer agreement got out and it was clear the price of the agreement was to end the boycott.
Aburish criticizes all players including Arafat. The book shows how PLO and Palestinian successes and failures were dictated in part by Arafat’s actions.
Arafat comes out a hero and a fool. Aburish documents Arafat’s started moving towards peace and reconciliation with Israel, and away from terrorism, as early as the early 1970s. But peace commonly took a back seat to a strong anti-Israel public position. Small factions in the PLO most commonly carried out terrorism that Arafat almost surely did not control.
Arafat was obsessed with maintaining his leadership, and assuring the continuity of the PLO. To this end he saw the two goals are identical. This commonly led to unfortunate outcomes. For one thing, Arafat rules like a tribal chief. He kept all funds in his sole control, and used them to curry favor and support. In a continuous attempt to maintain his leadership position and keep the PLO together, Arafat did not condemn the terrorist act. Because he was head of the PLO, which was the representation of Palestinian resistance, Arafat was unfairly labeled a terrorist. Another aspect of Arafat’s misrule was his reliance on PLO members from Tunis, rather than Palestinian leaders who live in the occupied territories. Not only were the Tunis people ignorant of conditions on-the-ground, they were corrupt.
The saddest part of the story occurred in the early 1990s that led to Oslo, Cairo, and Oslo II agreements - all bad for the Palestinians. The book shows how Arafat and the PLO entered the 1990s isolated from leaders in the Arab world with the PLO on the brink of bankruptcy. Arafat was desperate for peace believing that only a peace deal will lead to a Palestinian state. So he accepted Oslo in 1993 even though it was a worse deal for Palestinian than previous deals that were rejected. That pattern continued for the negotiations of the Cairo agreement in 1994 and Oslo II in 1995. Arafat was weak and Israel would make no compromise and its policies in the occupied Palestinian territories were quite aggressive in expanding settlements, confiscating land, holding thousands of Palestinian in prison, constraining the Palestinian economy, and humiliating Arafat. Israel was aggressive, Arafat was weak, there was no progress for Palestinians, and in response suicide bombing started and Hamas got stronger.