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Deborah Snelling (Galashiels, Scotland)

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Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
by Ilan Pappe
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.90

342 of 387 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Morality or prejudice - which is the best basis for peace?, 18 Nov. 2006
I was incredibly moved by this book, even though as I read it I was very aware that there are sections of Israeli society, and the wider Jewish community, which will simply dismiss it out of hand as propagandist and anti-Zionist fiction.

First, I have to say that I am Jewish, so I came to this book with a concern about potential conflicting loyalties that most of us, inside and outside Israel, bring to this emotive issue. Ilan Pappe, however, in effect asks everyone to balance love and/or respect for Israel (whether it is one's "homeland" or not) with an objective appraisal of the behaviour of the government (past and present) of that country. As parents are advised, one should criticise the behaviour - what has been carried out in the name of Israel - but love the child.

I was brought up on stories of Israel's valiant fight against impossible odds, of a David-like victory against the combined might of the Arab aggressors, and a celebration of everything Israel has achieved in the last century. However, I want to see peace in Israel - for everyone. So I have made it my business to familiarize myself with some of the basic arguments on both sides, but I had not come across the sheer wealth of detail that Pappe brings out in support of his main theme - that the Palestinians were forcibly, deliberately expelled from their homes and villages, in a project conceived and initiated long before the end of the Mandate. And regardless of whether they fled in fear or were driven out, they were not allowed back. No one can dispute this.

One of the most chilling arguments in the book, however, is that ethnic cleansing is still on the table as far as the government of Israel is concerned. It is facing a demographic "problem" - there are still too many Arabs inside Israel - and apparently it has its eyes on East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank with a view to reducing the Arab population.

It is hard to see how the two positions can be reconciled, but Pappe makes a very good argument for justice and reparations for the Palestinians, and as the only just and practical basis for a lasting peace, it is a convincing one. I highly recommend people on both sides of the argument read this book.
Comment Comments (14) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 14, 2012 1:42 PM GMT

The Diary of Mary Berg: Growing Up in the Warsaw Ghetto
The Diary of Mary Berg: Growing Up in the Warsaw Ghetto
by Mary Berg
Edition: Hardcover

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into the Warsaw Ghetto, 6 Nov. 2006
I heard this book recommended on the radio by Ottakers bookshops as their top pick for the Autumn. I was immediately curious and went out and bought it. I completely agree with them. Apart from the fact that it is a beautiful book (I've now bought an extra copy for my aunt for xmas) it is wonderfully written. It is a very honest and unselfconscious (and unself-pitying) memoir of living in the ghetto by a teenage girl, from the invasion of Poland to 1944. It drew me in from the first page, and I read it straight through.

One of the things I really appreciated is that it is a very warts and all account - talking about the terrible suffering and desperate (and impressive) efforts of the community to alleviate it, as well as the contrast with life of the better off ghetto residents, and against this ghastly backdrop of fear and daily struggle you see the day-to-day life of a young girl coming to adulthood. While I knew the general story of the Ghetto, this drew you into it, giving a three-dimensional idea of what it really felt like to live through it. A lot of eye-witness accounts were written years later, but this one was written at the time, which gives it incredible power. An amazing book.

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