Can America's “Special Relationship” with Israel Endure? December 2, 2021 10:53

America's founding mythologies are crumbling under historical scrutiny. Can the US-Israel "special relationship" endure that reassessment?

The distinguished historian and WRMEA columnist Dr. Walter L. Hixson will discuss the unique and distinctive aspects of the US-Israel "special relationship."

What assumptions underpinning the “special relationship” traditionally fit neatly into America's own history and national identity, such as "manifest destiny," "chosen" peoplehood, vanquishing the "savage" and settler colonialism? How did the rise of the formidable Israel lobby--by far the most powerful lobby representing a foreign nation in American history—exploit that identity to win the tiny nation of Israel more US military assistance and unconditional diplomatic support than any other country in the world? Now that Americans are grappling with their founding mythologies, can Israel's and its lobby's grip on the American psyche and body politic endure?

Copies of Hixson's latest two books will be available for sale and signing by the author.

Date and time

Fri, December 10, 2021

6:00 PM – 7:30 PM EST



Middle East Books and More

1902 18th Street Northwest

Washington, DC 20009



Please register here:


Book Talk and Review: The Movement and the Middle East: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left March 8, 2020 13:09

On Wednesday, March 4, Middle East Books and More hosted Professor Michael R. Fischbach to discuss his new book, The Movement and the Middle East How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left. Check out the book review, written by our bookstore director, Sami Tayeb, and listen to the talk (below), filmed by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

By Michael R. Fischback, Stanford University Press, 2020, paperback, 297 pp. MEB: $25

Reviewed by Sami Tayeb

Michael R. Fischbach’s The Movement and the Middle East is the first account to examine how the Arab-Israeli conflict fomented dissent and division within the American Left and how these divisions have informed present-day political discourse on Palestine and Israel. While “the Movement,” which he defines as a “large, loosely organized collection of people pushing for an end to the [Vietnam] war and radical change in America,” coalesced around their opposition to the Vietnam War, they were deeply divided on the question of Palestine. Fischbach lays out a nuanced and detailed history of the contentious debates that occurred in various leftist groups during the 1960s and ’70s that centered around the Arab-Israeli conflict and the actions they took—particularly in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War.

Building on the research of his previous book, which focused on the Black Power and Civil Rights movements’ positions on Palestine, Fischbach now directs his attention to the white American Left’s attitudes on the same issue. His analysis of this diverse and multi-faceted movement, which included over 200 organizations at the height of the Vietnam War, is laid out in 12 succinct chapters, focusing on the more prominent organizations including, but not limited to: student groups and campus activism, the Old Left (Communist, Marxist and Socialist parties), the New Left (organizations of young white leftists whose activism was based on moral passion and street-level politics rather than ideological constructs), and the anti-Vietnam War coalition, as well as the feminist movement that emerged in the ’70s.

Perhaps most central to the debate, is a chapter on the Israel exceptionalism that existed within the Movement, which explores the contradictions that emerged and rationale that was used to justify support for Israel by members of the Left. He notes that many of the pro-Israel positions were grounded in emotion and ethnic affiliation rather than history or consistent ideology and the issue of Palestine proved to be the litmus test on radicalism, or what “distinguished the true anti-imperialists from the liberals.”

Jews were overly represented in the Movement, and much of what Fischbach details are divisions among Jews that were involved in leftist organizations. The main schism was between groups and individuals that had an internationalist outlook and sought to confront imperialism, colonialism, capitalism and racism wherever it may be and those that made an exception for Israel and Zionism. The rationale for the latter’s position included the view that Israel was the non-aggressor in the Six-Day War; belief that Israel was the underdog surrounded by hostile Arab countries; Israel and Zionism being stand-ins for secular Jews’ Jewish identity; and that the U.S. military should be supported because it would, in turn, guarantee Israel’s military supremacy as well as create a balance of power in the region with the Soviet Union. The proponents of the last point largely came from a group that splintered from the Socialist Party of America (SPA) and later became the base of the neoconservative movement.

Fischbach lends insight to a variety of tactics that were employed by proponents of Israel. The most common tactic was for pro-Israel American Jews to send the message to other Jews in the Left to step in line and follow rank or else be prepared to face the backlash and vitriol of being called a self-hating Jew, not a real Jew or that they were a “psychological aberration” unable to conform to their identity as a Jew. Paradoxically, what emerges from this pro-Israel pushback is the “pro-Israel, non-Zionist” stance taken by some Jews, particularly by members of Communist Party USA.

Fischbach cites investigative reporter I.F. Stone to sum up the prevailing debate surrounding American Jews and Israel stating, “Israel was creating a ‘moral schizophrenia’ in world Jewry, because Jewish existence outside Israel depended upon secular, nonracial, pluralistic societies—but Israel was the exact opposite of that.”

The question of Palestine ultimately became a leviathan for the American Left to the extent that it was impossible to reach a consensus on this issue by the time the Movement began to decline in the mid-’70s. In fact, the issue was so contentious that there was a fear that it could unravel the anti-Vietnam War movement if the organizations involved were pressed to make a declaration on Palestine. Consequently, no declaration was seriously sought by organizers.

Remarkably, Fischbach is able to piece together a coherent, yet nuanced, narrative on Palestine and the debates that ensued in a fractious and dynamic Left during the anti-war movement. He also situates the historical context in which the neoconservative movement emerged from the Left and, conversely, the origins of progressive institutions that are still around today.

Fischbach even details a fascinating, yet brief, history of what could be called the Canary Mission’s precursor, the Youth Institute for Peace in the Middle East, which spied on other leftist and pro-Palestine groups for the Anti-Defamation League. He accomplishes this feat through numerous personal interviews, declassified FBI and CIA documents, and a thorough examination of the literature by leftist groups and individuals during this time period. Fischbach has successfully created an entryway for other researchers to further explore this fascinating yet little written history of the American Left.

What the reader longs for is a narrative that links the black civil rights movement to what Fischbach calls the Movement and how they complemented and differed from each other. Also, the reader wants to know what other factors contributed to the Left’s decline during this period and how the question of Palestine fits within this context. Was it the sole factor for the Left’s decline?

In the epilogue, Fischbach draws a tenuous link between the debates on Palestine during this time period to the politics of the present day. The reader would be well served if he devoted another chapter that sketches this out further and situates the effect this debate has had on the politics of the present. Moreover, many of the people Fischbach writes about are still active in politics today. It would be informative to hear more of these people’s stories and their influence on present day politics. For example, knowing more about the story of how Carl Gershman went from being a member of SPA to a key player among neoconservatives to becoming the president of the National Endowment for Democracy.

Ultimately, Fischbach’s timely and invaluable account of the Movement’s debate on Palestine offers insight on the debates the Movement grappled with, and for anyone interested in U.S. Middle East policy, the history and politics of the American Left or the Arab-Israeli conflict The Movement and the Middle East is a must-have for their library. Fischbach’s wide-ranging analysis opens the door for other scholars to fill in the gaps of this incredibly fascinating story, which would be a welcome addition in the years to come.

Sami Tayeb is the director of Middle East Books and More and an independent researcher who frequently writes about the political economy of the Middle East, Palestine and urban development in the region.


Book Talk: The Israel Lobby Enters State Government: Rise of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board by Grant F. Smith March 7, 2020 12:52

We launched our 2020 Book Talk series at Middle East Books and More on February 26, 2020 with Grant F. Smith of the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy. He joined us in-store to discuss his latest book, The Israel Lobby Enters State Government: Rise of the Virginia Israel Advisory

Check out the video of the event below, filmed by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs if you missed the talk. 

Book Talk: Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians by Khaled Elgindy December 22, 2019 19:30

Middle East Books welcomed Khaled Elgindy for our last book talk of 2019 on Dec. 11 to talk about his newest book Blind Spot: America and the Palestinians. Tracing the "blind spot" in American foreign policy with Israel and Palestine, Elgindy sheds light on the factors behind the lack of success in brokering a peace deal. 

Missed the talk? Watch the recorded event in the video below, filmed by Washington Report on Middle East Affairs!


Book Talk: Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism November 24, 2019 13:46

On Oct. 30, Middle East Books and More welcomed editor Carolyn Karcher and three contributing authors, Emily Seigel, Charlie Wood, Chris Godshall, to read from and discuss Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism. Through their poignant experiences and reflections, they elucidate the challenges of disentangling Jewish religious identity from Zionist nationalist ideology.   

Our event was filmed by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and is now available to watch online!



Book Talk and Review: Sophie Halaby in Jerusalem: An Artist’s Life November 3, 2019 16:37

On Oct. 16, Middle East Books and More hosted Laura Schor to speak about her newest book, Sophie Halaby in Jerusalem. Watch her talk, filmed by the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, and read the book review below.

By Laura S. Schor, Syracuse University Press, 2019, paperback, 272 pp. MEB: $30

Reviewed by Eleni Zaras

Many historians agree that women’s voices in Palestinian history are often absent or underrepresented in mainstream discourse. This can largely be attributed to dominant methodologies that privilege document-based sources over others, which have ultimately led to a dearth of scholarship about women. This is especially relevant to the story of Sophie Halaby, whose personal papers disappeared after her death in 1997. Professor Laura Schor’s new book on the late Palestinian artist has succeeded in overcoming this challenge. In Sophie Halaby in Jerusalem, Schor weaves together Halaby’s art, research from oral histories, papers from family members, peers and a wide range of institutional archives to sketch the contours of the artist’s life against the backdrop of 20th century Jerusalem.

While Halaby is remembered today as the first Arab woman from Jerusalem to study art in Paris, where she lived from 1929-1933, her story unfolds, not in Paris, but primarily in Jerusalem. Even for those familiar with the turbulent narrative of 20th century Palestine, studying this period through the lens of a female, Arab, Russian-Orthodox artist draws due attention not only to the artistic vision of Halaby but, more broadly, to different perspectives on Jerusalem’s history.

Having attended the diverse and prestigious Jerusalem Girl’s College, Halaby spoke four languages, boldly pursued her art studies abroad in Paris in the early 1930s and floated in the intellectual circles of Jerusalem’s society that traversed religious barriers. Regardless of her privileged upbringing, though, her life, according to Schor, was still “deeply affected by Arab and Zionist nationalism” and by the “continuous physical changes to her city.” She and her family were subjected to displacement, land seizures by the Israeli government and raids of her home and studio.

Halaby’s studies in Paris expanded her worldview, which laid the foundations for her artistic style and offered new inspirations and resources. Upon her return to Jerusalem, she brought these influences with her and dedicated her art to capturing impressions of her homeland in paint and watercolors. Her palette and style evoke the artwork of Odilon Redon and the French impressionists, notes Schor, and repeated depictions of the Mount of Olives, site of a Russian Orthodox church and the graves of her parents, recall Cezanne’s fixation on Mont Sainte-Victoire. While other artists in Palestine turned to overtly political themes, Halaby’s art, with the exception of eight political cartoons that challenged both the British and Zionists, remained subtle and poetic.

Instead, she focuses on a single bouquet against a muted background, or a small cluster of wildflowers against soft expanses of hills and valleys. Halaby deliberately crops out signs of urban development in her landscapes, although she includes, unassumingly, the gold Dome of the Rock and contours of the city walls and low buildings the color of sand. “Her persistent painting of Jerusalem as she willed it to be was her private form of resistance,” Schor explains, as she erases the physical scars of war and occupation that transformed the city and her own life.

And private her work did mostly remain: She did not participate in exhibitions with artists of “The Palestinian Group,” which consisted of Jews with Palestinian passports in the 1930s; nor did she join the League of Palestinian Artists, a collective whose overt goal was to engage art with politics and to liberate Palestine (although she did participate in a 1986 exhibition of Women’s Art in Palestine).

Yet Halaby did persist in quiet, personal dissonance, importing paints and supplies from Paris, painting with colors banned by the Israeli authorities, and staking claim to her homeland through her repeated renderings. If she no longer had physical or legal control over the fate of her homeland, she could still wield agency through art— her visual testament to belonging.

Through Schor’s judicious research and writing, Sophie Halaby in Jerusalem recreates the world Halaby inhabited and amplifies Halaby’s quiet, but powerful voice. Schor offers much-needed nuance to Palestine women’s and art history and hopes that Halaby’s story will inspire others, like herself, “to work for a better present and future for Jerusalem and for the Palestinian people.”


Book Review: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine February 28, 2015 14:00

Since gaining access to the records of the original Nakba, and above all, unlike the other Israeli “new historians,” getting in touch with the narrative of the displaced Palestinians, Pappé has come to recognize the enormity of the crime committed by David Ben-Gurion and the other early Zionist leaders, and which is carried on to this day. As he says in his introduction: “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 Palestine, which the movement coveted for its new state.” It is this reality which much of the West strangely refuses to acknowledge and which is the source of the continuing conflict in Palestine and the Middle East today. The apparent reason—misplaced Holocaust guilt/sympathy and fear of the anti-Semitism charge.

Book Review: Waiting for Paradise February 26, 2015 18:00

An entertaining and exciting novel, Waiting For Paradise deals with the massacre at Deir Yassin and the ethnic cleansing that it ushered in. There are hundreds of books written on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, of course, but most deal with it from the Israeli point of view. In standard American vernacular, this book tells the Palestinian side of 1948—and for that reason is likely to be shunned by most major presses.

Book Review: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy February 24, 2015 23:00

The volume they have co-authored, The Israel Lobby, is a comprehensive study of the staggering damage to U.S. national interest by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other pro-Israel advocacy groups. In it, they set a new standard of political bravery by proposing that further U.S. aid be conditioned on Israel withdrawing from Arab territory seized in June 1967 and on its “willingness to conform its policies to American interests.” During the past 40 years, no president or serious presidential candidate of either party has hinted—on or off the record—that even minor conditions should be put on aid to Israel. In my close experience in the thicket of Middle East politics during those years, I could count on the fingers of one hand the candidates for any office that daring. The professors are brave pioneers.

Book Review: I`jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody February 22, 2015 15:30

I`jaam is a story told through a series of remembrances and prison writings of a young dissident intellectual imprisoned and tortured by a dictatorial “leader.” The undotted manuscript—missing the Arabic diacritical marks, or i`jaam, necessary for clarity—tells an ambiguous story. While the words and phrases are open to interpretation, however, the chronicle itself is not.

Book Review: Guilty: Hollywood’s Verdict on Arabs After 9/11 February 20, 2015 15:00

According to Shaheen, author of the bestseller Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People,“Arabs remain the most maligned group in the history of Hollywood. Malevolent stereotypes equating Islam and Arabs with violence have endured for more than a century...Arab=Muslim=Godless Enemy.” In fact, Shaheen argues, the entertainment industry’s vilifying of Arabs and Muslims helped prepare the American public, as well as our fighting men and women, to go to war in the Middle East.

Book Review: A Palestinian Christian Cry for Reconciliation February 18, 2015 19:00

The book may be even more important for Christians in the West, however, who, having little knowledge of their own scriptures’ central message against the domination and violence of empires or of Jesus and his radical, subversive teaching, repeat the mistakes of history in their allegiances to power. A Palestinian Christian Call for Reconciliationpresents a very human Jesus who will appeal even to non-religionists (if they are peaceful ones), while also honoring the Jesus Christ of the Christian faith. Ateek also reaches back to Old Testament figures to debunk problematic Christian and Jewish theologies and uncovers ancient biblical teachings relevant to today’s Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror February 17, 2015 23:00

Putting the Darfur conflict in historical context, Mamdani asks a revealing question: Why was the world silent about far more deaths in conflicts in Rwanda, Angola, and the Congo, or deaths caused by AIDs and malaria on that continent, while Darfur became a tragedy of epic proportions?

Book Review: Palestinian Village Histories: Geographies of the Displaced February 16, 2015 22:30

Davis, an assistant professor of anthropology at Georgetown University, spent many years living in Egypt and Jordan, amassing a collection of 112 village memorial books. Excellently researched,Palestinian Village Histories includes textual analyses of more than 120 village books, personal interviews, and ethnographic fieldwork Davis conducted in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, the West Bank, Gaza and Israel. In breathless detail, she illustrates the myriad ways these stories pass on village knowledge, connecting each to the Palestinian homeland, and passing on the memories to younger generations.

Book Review: Yemen: Dancing on the Heads Of Snakes February 15, 2015 10:00

Part history, part travelogue, Clark's book weaves an intricate narrative from the 16th century to the present, based on the author's extensive research and encounters with the entire spectrum of Yemeni society: from Shi'i to Sufi, Islamist jihadis to Marxists, tribesmen to former al-Qaeda operatives. Each footnote and character in her narrative helps to further reveal a Yemen that is rich in cultural history, fiercely isolationist, and historically divided.

Book Review: Quicksand: America's Pursuit of Power in the Middle East February 14, 2015 19:30

Unlike his works on European history that were warmly welcomed by the media, Quicksand has been ignored. It is not hard to figure out why. Clearly it is his shredding of popular myths about the establishment of Israel, his clear sympathy for the Palestinians, and his exposure of the workings of the Zionist lobby going back to the administration of President Woodrow Wilson, all of which Wawro expresses in terms that would ordinarily have Alan Dershowitz, the ADL's Abe Foxman, and the American Jewish Committee's David Harris frothing at the mouth. That they are not, at least not yet in public, is a sign of Quicksand's potential to damage Israel's image and their own before a broad American audience.

Book Review: Refusing to be Enemies February 14, 2015 11:00

Refusing to be Enemies has joined a flood of new works covering nonviolent activism in Palestine. With the international critical success of "Budrus," well-attended U.S. screenings of "Little Town of Bethlehem," and a number of similarly themed books, it seems that Western audiences finally have a wealth of mainstream alternatives to the Zionist narrative that equates Palestinians with violence and terrorism. In her book, Kaufman-Lacusta lets the practitioners of nonviolence tell their story in their own words. We learn how various activists—Palestinian and Israeli, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish—provide their own context, which nonviolence strategies they favor, and how they view the prospects for peace. The result is a multitude of voices, each unique, but revealing the common themes of a personal commitment to nonviolence and the need for just and equitable peace.

Book Review: We Are All Moors: Ending Centuries of Crusades Against Muslims and Other Minorities February 11, 2015 15:00

One does not have to dig far into today's headlines to find examples of Islamophobia that contradicts the vision of a pluralistic and tolerant United States. According to Anouar Majid, professor of English at the University of New England in Maine, however, the "othering" of Muslims has a very long history, stretching back several centuries to the foundation of European Christendom.

Book Review: Traditional Palestinian Costume: Origins and Evolution February 8, 2015 16:30

Hanan Munayyer's Traditional Palestinian Costume: Origins and Evolutionconstitutes a decisive rebuke to those who, in a pathetic and shameful distortion of the identity of the Palestinian people, define them "invented." When Newt Gingrich, who claims to be a "historian," uttered this fallacy, a rush of other Republican candidates competed as to who could go further in amplifying this ferocious and scandalous attack on the Palestinian people and their identity. From this perspective, this collection constitutes, albeit unintentionally, the civilized response correcting the historical record.

Freekeh Soup Recipe! February 7, 2015 12:55


3 table spoon olive oil

1 cup onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup cracked green wheat (freekeh), thoroughly washed 3 times
1 cube vegetable or chicken stock
Salt to taste
1 tea spoon cumin


In a pot over medium heat, saute the chopped onions with olive oil until lightly browned. Add freekeh and stir with onions for a minute or two (roasting freekeh before cooking gives them a richer flavor). Add vegetable stock and 6 cups of water . Cover the pot and leave it under low-medium heat for about an hour or until freekeh is very tender.

Now after having them cooked, add cumin and salt to taste. Serve hot with green olives and your preference of bread.

Book Review: Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354 February 7, 2015 06:00

Born in 14th century Morocco, Ibn Battuta embarked on a journey at the young age of 21 that took 29 years to complete and spanned more than three times the equatorial circumference of the Earth (more than 75,000 miles), besting the distance traveled by his near-contemporary Marco Polo. Author and illustrator James Rumford, himself a world traveler, captures Ibn Battuta’s incredible journey in this masterful children’s book for ages 9 to 12.

Book Review: The Gaza Kitchen:  A Palestinian Culinary Journey February 4, 2015 20:30

Yet, no book has managed to capture the full picture of the Gazan experience as thoroughly as The Gaza Kitchen. Through an exploration of the intimate world of home-cooked meals, this cookbook is more than just a collection of recipes; it is the stories of the men and women involved in food production from the fields to the kitchen, as well as the effects of humanitarian aid, history, internal political forces and Israel’s ongoing siege. The Gaza Kitchen is an anthropological record, an economic indictment, a practical cookbook, and a fascinating read.

Book Review: The Almond Tree February 2, 2015 11:00

We first meet 7-year-old Ichmad Hamid in 1955, as he guides his father through a field of landmines in the West Bank of Palestine to retrieve what’s left of the boy’s tiny sister Amal. As the household prepared for a holiday celebration the toddler climbed out of her crib to follow a red butterfly into their field—which Israel has designated a “Closed Area.” Ichmad guides his “baba” using a map he drew as he watched Israeli soldiers plant mines in the family’s land.

Book Review: Advise & Dissent: Memoirs of an Ex-Senator January 26, 2015 22:30

Jim’s Advise is the autobiography of a brilliant man born 82 years ago into an immigrant family of Lebanese/Syrian descent in Wood, South Dakota. Conditions there at the time were hardscrabble, with American Indians being at the bottom of the barrel. In his early days Jim, like the others, looked down on them, but a social consciousness erupted one day. A bunch of boys were bullying another boy from an unusually poor family, the Zinemas, whose mother was overweight and eccentric.

Book Review: In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story January 25, 2015 23:00

Like Edward Said’s Out of Place, Karmi’s memoir is a story of loss and alienation, but it is also a story of growth, adaptation and reclamation. I cried when I read the first page, and I cried again at the end. In the pages that depicted Karmi’s life in between, however, I traveled with her back to her early days, when the incomprehensible events of 1948 punctuated her childhood bliss. Her ensuing exile to Damascus, at first painful, soon evolved into more of an extended family reunion; testimony of a child’s resilience. When only the nuclear family moved to England, however, where her father could find work with the BBC’s Arabic serivice, Karmi was exiled once again, and once again she adapted.

Book Review: Brokers of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East January 24, 2015 17:30

Columbia University history professor Rashid Khalidi begins his latest book with a quote from George Orwell on the corruption of language and thought employed by the United States and Israel when dealing with the Arab-Israeli dispute. An example is the word “terrorism.” In the American/Israeli context it applies exclusively to the actions of Arab militants, never to those of the militaries of Israel and the United States. Other such Orwellian terms include “security,” “self-determination,” “autonomy,” “honest broker” and “peace process.”

Book Review: Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide January 20, 2015 03:30

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has generated a tsunami of controversy with the recent publication of Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide (available from the AET Bookstore), a lavishly illustrated 74-page book accompanied by a DVD, which provides a wealth of information and provocative questions for discussion in book clubs and church and synagogue groups. Among the savage condemnations of this book is the review by Rabbis Abraham Cooper and Yitzchok Adlerstein on the Fox News website which bears the title “Why is U.S. church sending Jews to the trash-heap of history?” It accuses the authors of “poisoning attitudes among its members toward their Jewish neighbors,” and exhorts members of PCUSA to abandon their church.

Book Review: The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle January 19, 2015 22:30

In The Second Palestinian Intifada, Ramzy Baroud defies such polite conventions by taking readers on a journey into the heart of the Palestinian people’s struggle to survive war, massacres, assassinations, poverty, and exile.

A prominent writer, scholar, historian, and editor (Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israeli Invasion), Baroud grew up in a poverty-stricken refugee camp. He lived among Palestinians who grew old holding the rusted keys to homes confiscated by the Israeli government. His own grandfather kept hope alive by listening to the radio, believing that one day he would hear the call to return to his beloved olive orchards and the only way of life he and his ancestors had ever known. Instead, the author’s grandfather died hearing the sounds of an army determined to destroy the will of the Palestinian people.

Book Review: The Yacoubian Building January 17, 2015 01:30

Since it was first released in Arabic in 2002, The Yacoubian Building has been shrouded by controversy in a country where the Ministry of Information (and, by extension, the state-owned media) have a history of controlling content with an iron fist. By using non-traditional characters, Al Aswany sheds light on a number of the country’s most sensitive taboos, most notably corruption, prison torture, homosexuality, and the rise of fundamental Islam. Thus the underlying tension, which the novel boldly puts forth, is one of religious morality versus secularism, and one of tradition versus modernity.

Book Review: Against Our Better Judgment: How the U.S. was Used to Create Israel January 13, 2015 02:00

That, as Alison Weir has made clear, is Israel’s situation. In Against Our Better Judgment, Weir writes with great clarity how the Zionist movement was able to move politicians, both in America and in England, to legalize a most illegal act—that of stealing an entire nation—and crying foul when those from whom it was stolen complained, then tried to retake the land.

Book Review: Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! January 11, 2015 10:30

Palestinian folklorists Ib­rahim Mu­hawi and Sha­rif Ka­naana first captured the ageless folktale of “Tunjur Tunjur” in their invaluable collection Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales . Based on their recording of the story as told by Fatme Abdel Qader, of Arrabe, Galilee, and their own research, Muhawi and Kanaana’s version has gritty elements akin to the darker imaginations of the Brothers Grimm fairytales and gives a glimpse into Palestine’s earthy oral traditions.

Book Review: Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare January 6, 2015 19:00

For those who casually have been following the story of Iran’s nuclear program and the sanctions regime imposed by the West, Manufactured Crisis will decidedly upend many long-standing assumptions. For the last decade, an unquestioning mainstream press has repeated the official narrative: Iran’s once-clandestine nuclear program is in violation of the country’s international agreements, and the Islamic Republic’s ultimate intent is to create a nuclear weapon. Award-winning journalist Gareth Porter expertly digs at the crumbling roots of this narrative, revealing how the U.S. and Israel have propagated specious intelligence to spread fear and misinformation about Tehran’s intentions. This groundbreaking work exposes the hidden political motivations driving the U.S. and Israel to block Iran from its internationally recognized right to peaceful nuclear technology.

Book Review: Gertrude January 5, 2015 14:00

The provocative Moroccan poet, journalist and translator Hassan Najmi has written an absorbing, speculative tale of Gertrude Stein’s real-life visit to Tangier. The book’s narrator, a poet and journalist from modern-day Morocco named Abu Hasan, relates the deathbed confessions of Muhammad, who claims to have had an affair with Gertrude Stein in his youth. Using a narrative style that veers between emotive poetry and understated minimalism, Abu Hasan describes Muhammad’s burgeoning affair with Stein in Tangier.

Book Review: The Mouse Who Saved Egypt January 4, 2015 13:00

Alrawi’s expertly crafted narrative voice in The Mouse Who Saved Egypt conjures a timeless atmosphere as he tells the story of a young prince who rescues a mouse caught in a thorn bush. That evening the prince dreams of the sun god Amon-Ra, whose rhyming pronouncements lead the prince to discover a giant stone sphinx buried in the sand. The prince soon becomes a pharaoh and Egypt flourishes under his reign. Even the mice eat well! When an army appears on the kingdom’s doorstep the pharaoh prays to Amon-Ra and discovers that his act of kindness so many years ago has the power to save his people.

Book Review: Jerusalem Unbound: Geography, History, & the Future of the Holy City January 3, 2015 11:43

Michael Dumper opens his latest book on Jerusalem with the important question, “Why another book on Jerusalem?” Given the plethora of literature on the Holy City and its context within the larger Palestinian conflict, the question is valid. Interestingly, Dumper justifies Jerusalem Unbound, his third book on the city, by citing his recent work on the interdisciplinary project titled “Conflict in Cities and the Contested State,” which has pulled together scholars in sociology, architecture, urban studies, engineering and political science to cultivate new perspectives on Jerusalem as an urban space. The results, claim Dumper, influenced his desire to write another book on Jerusalem, this time focusing on it as a divided city with competing and contesting borders.

Classics Revisited: The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt July 26, 2014 13:14

First published in 2007, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt was the first major scholarly publication to expose the relation between the largest Israeli lobby organization in the U.S., the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and the U.S. Government. This hugely important work illustrates the dynamic which makes it possible for such an unpopular regime to receive such unquestioned support from America. At the time, the book was met with huge criticism from Zionist and neo-conservative groups. Passionate columns were written by commentators such as Alan Dershowitz, Eliot Cohen, and Benny Morris, accusing Mearsheimer and Walt of anti-semitism, anti-Americanism, and a host of other inflammatory terms.