21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Christopher M. Whitman Jr.
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
The book is not bad overall, it has some interesting articles with a better percentage of good authors than is typical for collections such as this. I personally do not like collections, but I always pick up Israel-Palestine books, so here I am. I did not wish to give some full rebuttal or critique of every article. So some individual reviews are just bare bones that do not need a full analysis, while others are detailed enough to warrant one. I recommend getting the book if you are an avid reader of the conflict, if you are not, the book might seem distant and unapproachable. I think that a full book by one or two of the authors would have been better to really examine the issue, but what can you do?
Ahmad Moor- Presence, Memory, and Denial
Ahmad Moor is a Palestinian of the occupied Palestinian territories that was able to escape during the second Intifada and obtain an education in the United States. He details basic ideas as to what it is to be a Palestinian in the oPt and the yearning for a peaceful solution to the conflict. He gives a few details about a number of topics such as Zionism and territorial domination.
It is not a poorly written article but it seems Mr. Moor relies on slogans and short confined sentences instead of detailed academic discussion of a topic. If this is your thing then great, but personally I would have liked to get beyond the slogans and into some substance. I respect that while acknowledging the potential for BDS to have an impact on certain aspects of the conflict, one cannot rely on this method alone. It was nice to hear deviation from the usual brouhaha about BDS being the greatest and most original idea since sliced bread, so that I give him credit for. I felt he should've stuck with as his central argument instead of bouncing back and forth between many different ideas under paragraph headings that had little to do with the substance.
Ilan Pappe- The State of Denial: The Nakba in Israeli Zionist Landscape
Ilan Pappe's article mostly deals with the inability of Israelis (specifically) and Palestinians to deal with the issue of the Nakba in any serious discourse. He cites the lack of Palestinian desire to discuss a painful time as the main reason for this inability. Regarding Israelis he details a number of reasons for ignoring the issue. The first is the glorious nature that 1948 has in Israeli discourse, that there is no way anything bad could have happened since it was such a beneficial event. This is no different from any other movement, which Pappe admits, but it is still of importance. Pappe also notes that Israelis in general consider themselves victims, hence to admit that Jews did bad things, especially so close after the Holocaust is unthinkable.
Pappe details various aspects of the Israeli brutality in 1948 and after to give the reader a basic idea of what he is referring to. Mostly, they are summaries of chapters of his famous book "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine." He then fast forwards to the late 80s and early 90s to discuss the role of new historians in Israeli academic discourse as a way to bring to light the atrocities which occurred in 1948. He states that the refusal of Israelis and Americans to seriously consider the findings is a major reason for the stalled peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians, but of course Israelis cannot fathom this.
The article is typical for Pappe in a book such as this, although written better and more coherent. Sometimes when he writes articles of this length, certain aspects are overlooked or squeezed in, but this one he is better able to articulate his points. If one enjoys Pappe, such as myself, I think they will like this article. If they have never been exposed to his writing, this is perhaps one of the better articles of his in a compilation to read.
Sara Roy- Reconfiguring Palestine: A Way Forward
Sara Roy attempts to deconstruct the current framework in which the `peace process' works within. Having read Sara Roy many other times, this article was a tid disappointing. She moved around from topic to topic with little to no fluidity. Many times to solidify her point she just pulls out a quote by Guy X at the Palestinian Authority. I understand the need to keep things secret, but if you are making a fundamental shift in thinking, some legitimacy behind the statement would be nice.
Overall, the article was too long, too congested, and too minimal. If she just covered half the topics with twice the amount of info I think the article would have been much better. Also I understand her focus is Gaza and Hamas, but the problem is that because she tried incorporating too many pieces, her field of knowledge seems to be superficial although I know it is not.
Diana Buttu- Success in Oslo: The Bantustanisation of Palestinian Territories
Diana's article starts a little slow and all over the place but about halfway through the article gets much better. The article's essential point is that Oslo has been a godsend for Israel in that it created the PA which has acted as a collaborator for Israel since. I agree 100% but the first half does a poor job getting to the point. She details numerous documents detailing why she believes this is the point. Overall a good article, articulate and concise. The only real point of contention other than the one mentioned is she gets B'tselem information wrong regarding the Jordan Valley. She inverses water usage numbers, presumably by accident.
Saree Makdisi- The Power of Narrative: Reimagining the Palestinian Struggle
Here I was thinking that I would get a nice theoretical discussion of the issue of narrative on the Palestinian side but instead got an unfortunately generic article by Saree Makdisi. He is the author of Palestine Inside/Out which is a great book but this article falls short of expectation. Makdisi basically makes the argument that the frail and outdated two state solution camp in Palestine is not an accepted fact and it can be overturned in the same way a no state solution was overturned. His advice, mobilize the Palestinian people and achieve it, easy. His argument is that a restructuring of the framework is needed, which has been repeated throughout this book, and that the Palestinians need to look towards new options, again a common theme. The article is short, which is nice, because it does not really say anything at all.
Joseph Dana- Protest and Privilege
Joseph Dana's article is about the Israeli protest movement both in the occupied territories and in Israel proper and dissecting the vast differences between them. Within this point, Joseph Dana details various aspects of the Israeli protest movement in the West Bank with interviews and quotes. He gives a basic description of the main organizations working in selected villages and their goals pertaining to the perceived `joint struggle.'
Dana lightly touches upon the privilege aspect for both varieties of protesters, but not to a satisfactory amount. Overall I think the article is better than average for both Dana and the book. It is concise, to the point, and not lofty.
Jeff Halper- Beyond Regional Peace to Global Reality
I have never been a big fan of Jeff Halper's writings but every now and again he comes out with a well articulated piece. Unfortunately this is not one of them. The first 40-45% of the article is dedicated to giving his organization ICAHD lots of credit for work and detailing their work. This is not to say that they do not deserve credit, because they do, but is this the appropriate place for it? I do not think so.
The second 40% talks about the usual problems regarding two states and then goes on to detail his grand strategy. His grand strategy is a complete rip off of Noam Chomsky's regional confederation idea, just with more restrictions. Of course, no credit is given to Chomsky for the idea, but what can you do. Halper then goes on to complain and praise various aspects of the Palestinian left (what he calls left) and then ends it.
Not the worst article of his that I have read but it is too long, too much self-praise, and not even citations to Noam Chomsky.
John Mearsheimer- The Future of Palestine: Righteous Jews vs. the New Afrikaners
Mearsheimer's article is an odd one. His main point is basically a regurgitation of Norman Finkelstein's and Peter Beinart's latest arguments about the American Jewish community, namely that they are and will continue to have problems combining their liberal values with their support for Israel. He does not even get to this until 75% of way into the article where he actually defines the title and gives it meat.
The other parts of the article are the usual arguments for a bi-national state and how much closer we are getting there every day and how the lobby is driving US policy. It is typical Mearsheimer without the academic backup he usually employs to prove his point. Not a terrible article, just a tid lazy for him.
Jonathan Cook- Israel's Liberal Myths
Jonathan Cook's article deals with land laws in Israel. He details a number of cases regarding Palestinians trying to live on land that is determined Jewish by the state and their subsequent legal battles. He shows the pattern of Israeli governments to enforce and reinforce the discriminatory laws in place in Israel in order to bar Palestinian Israelis from land purchase and development.
Overall the article is very good with proper citations and a well articulated point. Definitely one of the best in the book and should be read by everyone.
Phil Weiss- The Contract
Phillip Weiss writes a fantastic article about the American Jewish community and the various components of it, and his relations with it. The article discusses the various sectors of the community and its attachment to Israel and subsequent support for the occupation and the brutal policies which result from it. I do not want to give too much away because I think this is perhaps the most important article of the book and a must read for anyone interested in the topic.
Anthony Loewenstein- Zionist Media Myths Unveiling
Anthony Loewenstein discusses the role of the media in the Israel-Palestine conflict and how it has changed, specifically in the past 10 years. He attributes the accessibility of the internet and the plethora of information sites for expanding the debate and allowing for alternative views. He basically argues that now it is possible to ignore mainstream reporting which is generally subpar and biased against the Palestinians and engage in a real and honest debate about issues such as the one state solution and the right of return. His article is concise, to the point, and well articulated.
Omar Barghouti- A Secular Democratic State in Historic Palestine: Self-Determination through Ethical Decolonisation
Omar Barghouthi, where do I start? Ok I will be honest, I do not like Omar Barghouthi's writing or points. He is a self righteous and hypocritical person who is the de facto leader of the BDS movement. His article is meant to highlight the lack of self determination of Palestinians and how to get there. He argues a rights based approach and cites all these UN resolutions confirming the right of Palestinians to self-determination. Great, grand, wonderful...yet he forgets this little thing called UN Resolution 181 which partitioned Palestine in order to give the Jews self determination. This is one of his (and BDS's) greatest downfalls, they try and rely on this thing called law, but only those pieces which are helpful for their cause. Show me one resolution (don't try and use a minority proposal of UNSCOP) for the one state solution in the UN or any international body, please, I am waiting. If you want to argue BDS you cannot use the law, especially selectively. It looks ridiculous and is transparent. One must argue a moralistic or human rights base approach, using the law selectively will only hurt the cause.
Next he honestly tries to make the argument that Israeli Jews perhaps do not have the right to self determination. Really? You get accused of anti-Semitism and you then try and claim Jews are not a nation or worthy of rights? What year is this, 1881? If you go with this argument you will go nowhere. One of the successes of the Zionist movement has been the consolidation of the idea of an ethnic Jewish people and you think you are going to reverse it by handpicking random definitions of ethnicity and people-hood and then say well maybe the Jews count, but maybe not. You wonder why Israelis and the vast majority of the world do not support you, seriously? But of course, the Palestinians are the only rightful exercisers of self determination and Jews can stay, as long as they do not rock the boat. Just utter nonsense.
He then goes on to praise BDS with all his generic jargon, posturing, and sloganeering. Blah blah blah, we are so fantastic and great, and no one questions us because we are a cult, and if they do we will write a hundred blog articles about them and how Zionist they are, blah blah blah. How do you seriously expect to garner a mass movement when you are arguing for the politicide of ONE, not both of the actors in the conflict? Obscene, just utterly obscene. I'll be waiting for the blog article denouncing me for questioning the guru.
Ghada Karmi- How Feasible in the One-State Solution?
Ghada Karmi is a fine author and writes a nice and short article discussing the one state solution. She details what the obstacles are, where the support is coming from, and possible ways to move forward towards it. She is the first person in this book to advocate for the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority, which is 100% correct and needed as a first step. She then gives a couple short proposals for what to do after and how to structure the state. Overall a good article, worth reading.
Jeremiah Haber- Zionism After Israel
This article was a needed conclusion article as it detailed more the role of Zionism in Israel currently, what it was before, and what it potentially can be later on. He gives a lot of focus to the bi-national Zionist movement of the 1920s and 30s, a tid disproportionate I think, but that is not the point (we can gladly talk about it if you want). He later makes the argument that Zionism itself has many qualities to offer a bi-national state in the sense that it has the cultural aspects which are currently ignored. He thinks an emphasis on this, and not the statist program is the way to move forward. At the same time he acknowledges the role of the statist program and its current agenda in the consolidation of the state.