Book Reviews

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: 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: 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.

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.