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Occupied Minds: A Journey Through the Israeli Psyche [Paperback]

Arthur Neslen
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

20 Mar 2006
"Arthur Neslen’s sharp insights into the Israeli Jewish mentality are a must read for anyone wishing to understand that society beyond simplistic and reductionist descriptions."
Ilan Pappe, author of A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples

"This book is a fascinating journey through the Israeli Jewish psyche in its multiple manifestations. It invites us to understand the Israeli predicament through Israeli eyes."
Ghada Karmi, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter

"Brutal and searingly honest accounts. ... A compelling book."
Yvonne Ridley, Political editor of the Islam Channel

Israel's founders sought to create a nation of new Jews who would never again go meekly to the death camps. Yet Israel's strength has become synonymous with an oppression of the Palestinians that provokes anger throughout the Muslim world and beyond. How are Israelis able to see themselves as victims while victimising others? What does Israeli Jewish identity mean today?

Arthur Neslen explores the dynamics, distortions and incredible diversity of Israeli society. From the mouths of soldiers, settlers, sex workers and the victims of suicide attacks, Occupied Minds is the story of a national psyche that has become scarred by mental security barriers, emotional checkpoints and displaced outposts of self-righteousness and aggression.

From vignettes to in-depth interviews, more than fifty Israelis offer their accounts. What they reveal is in turn powerful, haunting, subtle and disturbing. Illustrated throughout with photographs, this unique book offers an unrivalled insight into Israeli consciousness, private and public.

It charts the evolution of a communal self-image based on cultural and religious values towards one formed around a single militaristic imperative: national security.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press; 1 edition (20 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745323650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745323657
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 16.3 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,001,560 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Occupied Minds is meticulously and rigorously researched and referenced, with detailed footnotes. It is an excellent book for the serious general reader on the Isreali-Palestine/Arab conflict, giving a broad, comprehensive spectrum of people, a confluence of ideas and ideologies. For people who already have a certain depth of background understanding, clear of myths and misapprehensions, and to experts in this tragic conflict, it fills in the minutiae. (Jewish Socialist)

[This book] is an important key to understanding the realities beyond the headlines. (Internet Bookwatch)

Brutal and searingly honest accounts. ... A compelling book. (Yvonne Ridley, Political editor of the Islam Channel)

Arthur Neslen’s sharp insights into the Israeli Jewish mentality are a must read for anyone wishing to understand that society beyond simplistic and reductionist descriptions. (Ilan Pappe, author of A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples)

This book is a fascinating journey through the Israeli Jewish psyche in its multiple manifestations. It invites us to understand the Israeli predicament through Israeli eyes. (Ghada Karmi, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter)

Red Pepper is worth the price just for Arthur Neslen's investigative reports. (Greg Palast)

This is a simple but profound exploration of the complexities and contradictions of Israel. Dissidence, anger and the desire for reform as well as the more familiar bigotry and hatred come through in the words (and silences) of a fascinating cross-section of Israeli Jews. Listening and responding to these voices is essential to the struggle for a just peace in the Middle East. Through his own efforts to understand, Neslen has produced an unequalled insight for all of us into this troubled and troubling society. (Hilary Wainwright, Editor of Red Pepper)

About the Author

Arthur Neslen was until recently the London correspondent for Aljazeera.net and the website's only Jewish journalist. For five years he was Red Pepper Magazine's international editor and between 2001 and 2004, he worked as a broadcast journalist at the BBC. He has also written for publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Observer, the New Statesman and Private Eye.

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into Israeli society 2 Aug 2006
The stories & experience of secular and religious Jewish people from left to the right of Israeli society challenge the notion that Israel is an ideal society & haven for all Jews. It will be an invaluable oral history record for historians. People speak for themselves, leaving the reader to make up their own mind, whilst footnotes provide well researched historical context which reinstates aspects of Jewish history absent from the pro-zionist tradition. There are first hand accounts of racism towards non- Western Jews, housing policies which encouraged naive Russian migrants to go live in settler enclaves in the occupied territories, as well as a fascinating interview with a retired security chief about Machiavellian manipulations. This thought provoking book should be read by all diaspora Jews, whether the majority who continue to feel they must give whatever Israel does unconditional support, or an increasing minority who do not.
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Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Amazing 23 Mar 2010
By Abu al-Sous - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What an amazing book, I wish I can give it six stars but I cannot; the system does not allow.

For the first time I find a book that covers the Israeli society from all angels. Mr. Nelson takes you into the Israeli society through 50 interviews with Israelis from all social, racial and political background. For example, he interviewed Mizrah Jews, Ashkenazim, Sabras, DJs, Sex Workers, Black Jews (not Falashas), Yamin, Morracan, Iraqi Jews, settlers, Russian emigrants, anti-Zionist, people from the political right, lawyers who help Zionists around the world, people who live in Kibutz ...etc.

At the beginning of each chapter, he gives you a very solid brief introduction which I found very very helpful. Frankly I considered myself well read about the Israelis society before and this book filled a lot of gaps.

What I like about this book that he really attempted to give the readers an honest idea about the Israelis, where he shows the good, the bad, and the ugly. He did not push the people whom he interviewed very hard, he was respectful but at the same time gave the reader an idea what goes into their heads.

As you read each interview, you come with the impression that MOST Israelis & Jews don't understand the root causes of the conflict; they are really clueless. Often in the interviews they refer to "Palestinian State" or "the two state solutions" as if creating the Palestinian state will solve the conflict once and for all. I can understand from the Zionist point of view (especially after the Holocaust) why they see Israel as state for all Jews is important, but what they don't understand that Palestine for Palestinians is a homeland, not a state. With the exception of few Israelis in this book, the majority do not understand that the massive ethnic cleansing and the collective dispossession of 2/3 of the Palestinian people are the CORE ISSUES of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; that is what fuels the conflict beside the illegal occupation of the W. Bank and Gaza

Despite that Mr. Nelson knew that the massive ethnic cleaning and dispossession of the Palestinian people (which occurred during the war of 1948- see page 210), he could not ask such a question. I really understand why he could not which is because of the disconnect between what people believe/think and between the the facts.

Finally, I really appreciate how Mr. Nelson made a great effort to detail the sources of each stated fact; for a historian this is really important.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Author's Mind Unoccupied By Facts 7 April 2013
By Kitchen Magician - Published on Amazon.com
Israel occupies Israel? A nation cannot "occupy" its own ancestral homeland that is also a sovereign state. Occupation is defined by international law as one state exerting control over another state. Israel exerts control over no state. Moreover, the League of Nations in 1922 established the lawful right of Israelis to inhabit their Homeland in its entirety from the Jordan River to the Med. Sea

Clearly, the author's mind isn't "occupied" by the facts. Let your money occupy your pocket and don't bother wasting it on this junk.

Eugene Rostow, Legal Scholar, Former Dean of the Yale Law School, Under Secretary of State in the Johnson administration, US State Dept Legal Advisor, Drafter of UN Res. 242 pertaining to Israeli land in the West Bank...

"The British Mandate recognized the right of the Jewish people to "close settlement" in the whole of the Mandated territory [Palestine]. The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan river, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated and cannot be terminated except by a recognized peace between Israel and its neighbors. And perhaps not even then, in view of Article 80 of the U.N. Charter, "the Palestine article," which provides that "nothing in the Charter shall be construed ... to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments...."

The mandate implicitly denies Arab claims to national political rights in the area in favor of the Jews; the mandated territory was in effect reserved to the Jewish people for their self-determination and political development, in acknowledgment of the historic connection of the Jewish people to the land. Lord Curzon, who was then the British Foreign Minister, made this reading of the mandate explicit. There remains simply the theory that the Arab inhabitants of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have an inherent 'natural law' claim to the area. Neither customary international law nor the United Nations Charter acknowledges that every group of people claiming to be a nation has the right to a state of its own."
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