Book Review: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine February 28, 2015 14:00Since 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 18:00An 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 23:00The 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 15:30I`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 15:00According 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 19:00The 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 23:00Putting 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 22:30Davis, 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 10:00Part 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 19:30Unlike 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 11:00Refusing 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 15:00One 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 16:30Hanan 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.
Book Review: Traveling Man: The Journey of Ibn Battuta 1325-1354 February 7, 2015 06:00Born 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 20:30Yet, 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 11:00We 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 22:30Jim’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 23:00Like 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 17:30Columbia 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 03:30The 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 01:30Since 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.