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Ben Alofs (Bangor, North Wales, UK)

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Fellini Satyricon / Fellini's Roma (OST)
Fellini Satyricon / Fellini's Roma (OST)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I love Nino Rota's quintessentially Italian music, 19 July 2016
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Finally, the original soundtracks of Fellini's Satyricon (1969) and Roma (1972) on one CD! An unexpected pleasure.
I love Nino Rota's quintessentially Italian music. His 'Aria di Roma', so simple, but beautiful in all its variations, sent me on a wild goose chase back in the 1970s. I never found more than a few fragments of Roma and Satyricon on various lp's dedicated to film music, but never the full original sound track.
Fast forward to 2016, the age of YouTube. Last week I had a chance search on YouTube for Nino Rota's film music of Fellini's 'Roma', to discover that finally there was an original soundtrack of both Satyricon and Roma on one CD, published in 2011 as a limited collector's edition of 1000 copies.
This is music for those who appreciate Nino Rota and the films of Federico Fellini.
My own interest is very personal. I learned the classics at grammar school. In 1972, having completed our final exams and before entering university, our classics teacher took us on a journey from the Netherlands to Rome in a VW bus. After a journey of several days we finally reached our destination. "All roads lead to Rome", as the proverb says and we ended up in the mother of all traffic jams on the autostradas leading into Rome. That astonishing arrival was almost identical to the chaotic traffic jam scenes, Fellini shot for his film 'Roma'. We didn't realise it at the time, but Federico Fellini was shooting his film in the same period we stayed in Rome.
I only saw 'Roma' for the very first time in 1973, but I was instantly able to relate to it.
Fellini's tableaxu vivants of Rome and his take on Satirycon by Petronius, depicting how the lower classes lived in the days of the Roman empire, are all very personal, and I can understand why people struggle to make sense of them. What keeps it all together is Nino Rota's music. It is an organic part of Fellini's films, from La Strada to 8 1/2, La Dolce Vita, Satyricon, Roma, Amarcord, Casanova. And this is only a partial list. I cannot think of any other pairing of filmmaker and music maker in cinema history where picture and music created such a perfect and inseparable match.
His music to accompany Satyricon, based on ancient Roman music, sounds almost primitive. It certainly is an acquired taste. Without Rota's music 'Roma' would not have been particularly noteworthy, but with it an extraordinary synergistic effect is created.
Nino Rota is best known as the composer of the film music of Francis Ford Coppola's 'The Godfather'. But Rota's most intimate relationship is with Fellini. For those who love Nino Rota's music the original soundtrack of Fellini's Satyricon and Fellini's Roma is an essential purchase.


The Palestine deception
The Palestine deception
by J. M. N Jeffries
Edition: Unknown Binding

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Britain deceived the Arabs and offered the Zionists "forged title-deeds", 1 Dec. 2014
This review is from: The Palestine deception
In "The Palestine Deception" (a series of newspaper articles originally published in 1923) J. M. N. Jeffries, formerly a war correspondent in Europe and the Middle East, working for Britain's largest-selling newspaper, the Daily Mail, argues that clear, written pledges of Arab political independence, offered in 1915-16 as a means of getting Arab military support in the war against Germany and her Ottoman ally, had been decisively contradicted by the terms of the Balfour Declaration in 1917: thus "The Palestine Deception".
Providing for the first time, a public translation from the Arabic of pertinent extracts from the diplomatic correspondence between Sherif Hussein and Sir Henry McMahon - something that the British government itself would not allow until 1939! - Jeffries caused a considerable stir in political circles in London, prompting senior members of the House of Lords to ask that the government revise the terms of its commitment to the Zionist project in advance of the forthcoming final settlement by the League of Nations of the Mandate for the territory.
Jeffries writes with lively wit and telling irony, especially when he exposes the lies and cynicism of Winston Churchill and his "vilayet of Damascus".
I have read quite a few books about the Balfour Declaration and the Hussein-McMahon correspondence, but never has British treachery vis a vis the Arabs been exposed so clearly. With the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 the British government offered the Zionists "forged title-deeds", because Britain had pledged Palestine already to the Arabs, years before in 1915/16.
British cynicism was incredible. The pledges made in the McMahon correspondence were formally confirmed in 1918 by none other than Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour, the same man, who issued the Balfour Declaration in November 1917!
The original publication of "The Palestine Deception" of 1923 has been out of print for many years, but has now (2014) been republished by the Institute of Palestine Studies (USA 2014). The editor is historian William Mathew, who also wrote a comprehensive introduction.
This is a must read for all those who want to understand the origins of the Arab-Israeli conflict and the deplorable role Britain played in it all.


Sabra and Shatila: 30195: September 1982
Sabra and Shatila: 30195: September 1982
by Bayān Nuwayhiḍ Ḥūt
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.00

5.0 out of 5 stars Best account so far of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, 2 Oct. 2014
A lot has been written and said about the massacre of Sabra and Shatila, which took place in September 1982 in Beirut during Israel's Lebanon invasion. This is the most important and thorough book about the massacre to date and I doubt if it will ever be bettered. I say this as someone who has witnessed the massacre first hand. Back then in September 1982 I was amongst a group of foreign medical volunteers working in Gaza Hospital in Sabra in West-Beirut. We were taken prisoner by the Christian phalangists, who were committing the massacre, but their Israeli masters forced them to hand us over to them and we were subsequently released. What I saw in Sabra and Shatila in September 1982 has been burned in my memory forever.
One of the ways to cope with my experience was to read everything about the subject I could lay my hand on, in order to make sense of it all. How did it happen? And why?
I consider myself as very knowledgeable on the subject. From this perspective I can say with utmost confidence that Bayan al-Hout's book is by far the most important and authoritative publication on the massacre by far.
For years she interviewed survivors and set up an oral history project and did painstaking research into the identity of the victims. She gave names to the anonymous dead in the form of an impressive and detailed name list, found nowhere else. Of particular value too is the exhaustive bibliography in the back of her book.

In her introduction she lays out the major objectives:
"1. To show conclusively that what took place in Sabra and Shatila between 16 and 18 September 1982 was a massacre, not a battle.
2. To show conclusively that the Palestine Liberation Organization did not break its promises, since there were definitely not 2500 Palestinian fighters either in Sabra and Shatila or in West-Beirut as a whole.
3. To show conclusively the incorrectness of the victim count in the two reports (the Jermanos and Kahan reports - BA), and to provide evidence for estimated figures closer to reality.
4. To document victims' names as far as possible, based on various primary sources.
5. To specify the identity of the militias and members carrying out the massacre."

Bayan al-Hout succeeds in achieving these objectives in a most impressive way.
Since the book was first published in 2004 new details have come to light, which should rekindle the discussion regarding Israel's (direct) role in the massacre. I refer to the book of veteran Lebanon-based French journalist Alain Menargues "Les Secrets de la Guerre du Liban" (Albin Michel 2004), in which he claims that soldiers of the elite unit Sayeret Mat'Kal quietly carried out a series of targeted assassinations of 63 Palestinian intellectual cadres (lawers, doctors, teachers etc.) after the Israeli army had surrounded the camps, but before the Lebanese militiamen were told to enter. It is clear that the last word about this massacre has not been said or written, even now when some of those carrying prime responsibility (Ariel Sharon and Elie Hobeika) are no longer alive.

But why pay so much attention to a massacre that happened 32 years ago, one would ask? If one looks at the atrocities being carried out in Syria and Iraq, that question is legitimate.
In my own personal opinion "Sabra and Shatila" was not just a massacre, but one which aimed to achieve a political goal. It was Sharon's design to terrorise and uproot the Palestinian refugees from Lebanon and drive them out, to Syria and from there to Jordan, which in Sharon's view was the Palestinian state to be. Sharon no doubt was aware of the effect the massacre of Deir Yasin had on the Palestinians in 1948. This was carried out by Irgun, commanded by Sharon's fellow Likudnik prime minister Begin. Begin proudly claimed that "Deir Yasin" had been a decisive factor in the creation of the State of Israel

But Bayan al-Hout does not talk about the wider political implications of the massacre of Sabra and Shatila. Her responsility as an academic is to achieve the objectives as laid out above. She states herself: "This is not a definitive piece of research about Sabra and Shatila; everything so far released about the massacre, this book included, remains deficient. The full horrifying picture of the massacre will not be supplied till the diaries of victims' families witnessing the events are published, including the diaries of people who were still adolescents during those three bloody days.
By the same token the picture will not be complete until the witnessing Israeli soldiers and officers, along with the attackers themselves, have matured appreciably. Those large numbers of people who watched or took part in the massacre were mostly in their twenties or thirties then. Some of these, inevitably, will recount their memories after they retire.
Research into massacres can only be said to end, finally, with the death of all the witnesses and killers. This implies the passage of two, even three generations."
So while this is not a definitive account, it is certainly the best one available so far.

Biographical details about Bayan Nuwayhed al-Hout. Born in Jerusalem to Lebanese parents, who moved back to Lebanon in the late 1950s. She gained a Ph.D. in political science from the Lebanese University in Beirut, where she has been teaching from 1979 onwards. She is the widow of Shafiq al-Hout, former PLO representative in Lebananon and outspoken politician and writer, who hailed from Jaffa.


Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine 9e and Oxford Assess and Progress: Clinical Medicine 2e PACK (Pack) (Oxford Medical Handbooks)
Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine 9e and Oxford Assess and Progress: Clinical Medicine 2e PACK (Pack) (Oxford Medical Handbooks)
by Elizabeth Wallin
Edition: Flexibound
Price: £40.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If one had to choose one book of medicine this would be it, 25 Feb. 2014
I was a medical student at the University of Amsterdam medical school when the first edition of the Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine was published. I have always been in admiration of UK medical publishing, but this volume is the one truly outstanding medical textbook, crammed full of essential information. It is an indispensable item for any doctor. It may with its over 1400 pages now have outgrown my pocket, but it still fits very well in my doctor's bag. I am a Dutch GP in the Welsh countryside and wherever I go my loyal companion the OHCM goes with me.


Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair
Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair
by Jonathan Cook
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.99

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jonathan Cook shows marvellous insight and understanding, 9 Jun. 2012
Jonathan Cook is a British journalist, who lives and works in Nazareth since many years. His wife is Palestinian. These two facts go a long way to explain the marvellous insight Cook has in the workings of the State of Israel, its interaction with the indigenous Palestinian population and in Zionism's true goals. Western correspondents come and go, but Jonathan remains. I can think of no other Western journalist, who has such depth of understanding, especially of the situation of Israel's Palestinian population, those Palestinians who were not expelled in the 1948 war, during which the State of Israel was founded.
Jonathan's first book "Blood and Religion. The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State" (Pluto Press 2006), and the present volume "Disappearing Palestine. Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" dissect in the greatest detail Israel and how it treats its Palestinian population and the Palestinians living under occupation in the Westbank, East-Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.
"Disappearing Palestine" bundles together a number of articles Jonathan Cook has published over the years in various newspapers, weekly magazines and online media.
This impressive book is further reinforced by its easy readability.
I can recommend no better book for those who want to get a better insight in what the impact is of Israel and the zionist ideology on the daily life of the Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
This book was published in 2008, but I have just re-read it in June 2012 and I am all the more impressed, because so much of what Jonathan Cook predicted, has come to pass.


Walking Palestine (Signal Travel Guides)
Walking Palestine (Signal Travel Guides)
by Stefan Szepesi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breaking down fixed images of Palestine by.... walking it., 21 April 2012
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During a visit to the Westbank one is frequently reminded of the Israeli occupation with its military checkpoints, ugly separation wall/fence and the illegal Jewish colonies, which have been carved into this ancient land. It is not easy to escape this harsh reality.
There is however a different Palestine, one of beautiful, lovely landscapes, changing from season to season, filled with wadis, springs, rolling hills, arid landscapes with deserts. A Palestine, where one can see hillsides covered with beautiful flowers and lush green grass in Spring, contrasted by the starkness of the dry, arid landscape in Summer. An integral part of the landscape are the Palestinian villages and towns, connected to each other by ancient roads and dirt trails, leading along equally ancient agricultural terraces with olive and almond trees. And frequently one comes across beautiful ancient monuments.
I have walked in this landscape, these villages and towns and one of the reasons why it always was such a pleasant experience, was the welcome and generous hospitality given by families picking olives, farmers working in their fields, shepherds herding their sheep and goats, and by the people in the villages and towns, I walked through.
It is said, that the best way to know a place, is to walk it. This certainly applies to the landscape of Palestine. One of the pioneer ramblers and instructors in this respect is Raja Shehadeh, a Palestinian lawyer, well known as the founder of the human rights organization al-Haq. He also has a great love of walking in the countryside of the Westbank. His book "Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape" (2007), in which he goes on 6 different walks in the Westbank describes in a powerful way the beauty of the landscape, the people who live in it, the quirky, strange and unusual things he meets, and the impact Israel's occupation has on all of this. It was a trailblazer, which awakened people's interest in the culture, flora and fauna of Palestine.
Now comes Stefan Szepesi's "Walking Palestine. 25 Journeys into the Westbank".
Szepesi is a Dutch economist, who between 2006 and 2010 lived in Jerusalem and worked as economic advisor in the occupied Palestinian territories. He devoted his free time to exploring the outdoors of the Westbank on foot. With his friends Stefan undertook countless test walks across the Westbank. The result is this fantastic book, which takes first-time walkers and experienced hikers, as well as armchair explorers, through Palestine, through steep desert gorges, tiny herder's trails and over quiet dirt roads past ancient gnarled olive trees. With the 25 walks come stories and ancedotes on heritage, history, culture and daily life in the Westbank. The book ventures into the traits and character of Palestine as it is today.
250 km of walking trails are described and mapped in detail throughout the book. There is a wealth of practical walking tips, like: Greet anybody along the trail (ways of greeting in Arabic are provided). There are useful references to local guides, the Westbank's best leisure spots and countryside restaurants, and the most charming places to spend the night. The book fits easily in your rucksack.
One of the features that makes this such an attractive book, are the photographs in colour, which illustrate the beauty of the Palestinian landscape, its flora and fauna, and its people. So if you are interested in walking the Palestinian countryside, but don't know exactly how to go about it, this is the book for you.

The only question mark I have, and which the book does not answer, is: should one on arrival at Ben Gurion airport or at the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge over the Jordan river, tell the Israeli border officials about your plans or final destination? Should you even have this book with its revealing title in your luggage?
Israeli official: "What is the purpose of your visit?" Traveller: "I am a keen walker and I have come to explore the countryside of Palestine."
Stating your final destination as "Palestine" honestly and truthfully is problematic in this day and age, as the participants of the recent "Welcome to Palestine 2012" event experienced. You run the risk of being considered a potential security risk and denied entry, as I experienced myself in 2002.
This book will surely be available in the bookshops of East Jerusalem and Ramallah.
At present I would advise travellers not to state their final destination as Palestine, because it can ruin your holiday. Just tell the border officials you will be visiting friends in Israel (have names ready), visit all the important tourist sights and you intend to go and hike in areas within Israel with your friends. Stating that you intend to visit East-Jerusalem and Bethlehem is OK because so many Christian pilgrims go there.
Stefan Szepesi states in the foreword to his book: "Simply put, there is another Palestine filling our television screens. Mark Twain made clear that travel books cannot erase the fixed images in our minds; they tend to make it worse. Only a personal journey, a visit, an encounter, a walk, can start breaking them down."
Good advice to any foreigner, the dedicated activist, the Christian pilgrim, the tourist who wants to take in the sites of the "Holy Land", but also to the Jewish Israeli who wonders: who and what is behind that wall?
Stefan's book is the start of that personal journey. It is greatly recommended.


The Promise [DVD]
The Promise [DVD]
Dvd ~ Claire Foy
Price: £6.99

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brave film that was long overdue, 27 Mar. 2011
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This review is from: The Promise [DVD] (DVD)
I saw the first three parts of Peter Kosminsky's "The Promise" on Channel 4, but missed the last instalment because I had booked a trip to Tahrir Square to witness firsthand the Egyptian people's revolution in Cairo. The first three parts I found very moving and that is why after my return from Egypt I bought the film on DVD.
Having seen all of it I must say that it was a very compelling and moving film. Peter Kosminsky has for the most part done excellent research. Many of the scenes and discussions in the film are spot on, exactly as I witnessed them in Israel and Palestine. Like the intolerable behaviour of the Jewish settlers in the centre of Hebron/al-Khalil. Some of Peter Kosminsky's detractors claim that he has falsified history. But I found his general description of Palestine in the 1940s and especially the pivotal events in 1947/48 spot on. For my take on political Zionism and British policy in Palestine, including Britain's responsibility see my response to Mr Conolly.
The reason why I could not give "The Promise" the full 5 stars was that the story, although powerful and moving, was a bit forced and artificial in places. It sometimes felt as if Peter Kosminsky was too keen to get all of the key events in the film. And that Len was personally involved in so many major events was pushing it a bit.
The use of Len's diary as a tool to tell his story has - as others have noted - been done before. But still, Peter Kosminsky uses it quite effectively.
The only time I raised my eyebrows was when Erin asks her Palestinian friend from Abu Dis to bring her to Gaza, which he does via a tunnel from Israel into the Strip. I know that Hamas carried out a daring raid in 2008 into enemy territory to capture Israeli soldier Shalit, so I cannot completely exclude the possibility of a tunnel between Gaza and Israel, but this is not the way people go from Israel into the Strip. My last entry into Gaza via Israel was in 2005. You do need a permit from the Israeli army, which is now almost impossible to get if you are not a diplomat, UN worker or accredited journalist.
My main conclusion however is that Peter Kosminsky has made a brave and compelling film that needed to be made. I cannot recall an earlier feature film about a British soldier in Mandate Palestine, torn between sympathy for the people who survived the Nazi death camps and friendship for a Palestinian family which ended up being dispossessed by Zionist forces. This is an excellent docudrama that gives food for thought and can be used in schools and other educational facilities.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 13, 2011 5:57 PM BST


The Question of Zion
The Question of Zion
by Jacqueline Rose
Edition: Paperback
Price: £22.95

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very reasoned analysis of the psyche of Zionism, 2 Dec. 2010
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This review is from: The Question of Zion (Paperback)
I read this book at the beginning of 2008. This is a very refreshing and honest look at the ideology of Zionism by a Jewish woman, who deeply cares about the trauma and pain suffered by fellow Jews, but who cannot accept the violence perpetrated towards another people entailed in the Zionist project using past suffering as a justification.
At the time I did not post a review, but when I happened to come across the two people above who gave Rose one star and accused her of telling lies and posted this as a 'review' I had to respond.
I thank robin hood for his review. I agree wholeheartedly with what he said.
I respect people if they have a reasoned critique. This stimulates debate. But I find the kind of anti-intellectual hostile rants as produced by Messrs. Myerson and A Kids Review frankly disgusting.
Read my comment under A Kids Review. A simple check in Rose's book made clear that he was telling a lie. S. Wood, thank you for your excellent response to Myerson.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 16, 2010 12:59 PM GMT


Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel
Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel
by Ilan Pappe
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ilan Pappe's journey out of Zionism, 19 Nov. 2010
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In "Out of the Frame" Israeli historian Ilan Pappe's tells his personal story, one of being born into Zionism (Haifa 1954), growing up and living as a leftwing Zionist and from 1982 onwards struggling to leave Zionism via an incremental process, which was intellectual, ideological and political and marked by emotional turmoil and social estrangement.
Pappe is one of Israel's New Historians. His book "The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine" demonstrates with devastating clarity how the State of Israel was built on the ruins of destroyed Palestinian villages with their indigenous inhabitants expelled and made into refugees. A far cry from mainstream Zionist historiography.
Where that other New Historian, Benny Morris, had second thoughts and - in a display of moral cowardice - returned to the Zionist fold, Ilan Pappe showed remarkable courage, being one of the very few Israeli academics to teach in his classes the Palestinian Nakbah.
After the outbreak of the Second Intifada the political climate in Israel became more and more intolerant. The shameful way in which his employer, the University of Haifa, treated him because of his support for the Palestinian narrative of '1948' and his opposition against the Zionist ideology, reminds one of the dying days of the Weimar Republic where dissident voices were silenced and ostracised.
Pappe endured the threatening emails and letters filled with excrement in his letterbox, but when he was finally told that the Russian maffia had a contract to kill him he decided to take his family away from Israel and came to the UK in 2007, where he is now a Professor in the Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.
"Out of the Frame" is a remarkable book by a courageous Jewish Israeli.
"Powerful as the Zionist grip is on one's thought and life, as an Israeli Jew, once you have extracted yourself from its hold, you cannot understand how you could ever have been captivated by its lure, logic and vision. This book is a modest attempt to try to decipher the riddle of an ideology that was once seen by this author as the ultimate expression of pristine humanity, but when abandoned, as a racist and quite evil philosophy of morality and life.
Yet the 'divorce' from Zionism is in no way a desire to sever links with what is a vital and vibrant society, in which I still have family and dear friends and about which I cherish many fond memories. But in order to preserve the positive side of Jewish life in Israel, I believe that not only would Palestinians fare better under almost any non-Zionist regime, so would most Israeli Jews."


John Barleycorn Must Die (Bonus Tracks) (Rmst)
John Barleycorn Must Die (Bonus Tracks) (Rmst)
Offered by roundMediaUK
Price: £6.84

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still impressive after 40 years!, 7 Mar. 2010
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Traffic's "John Barleycorn must die" is one of those legendary and pivotal music albums. Made in 1970 - in July this year it will celebrate its 40th birthday! - it is the perfect fusion of rock, jazz and folk music. I still have my old vinyl copy, but recently got a digitally remastered cd version of 2001 with two previously unreleased tracks.
I hadn't heard "John Barleycorn Must Die" for many years and I was amazed at how crisp the music still sounds. This is music of all time. The highlights for me are Glad, Freedom Rider and John Barleycorn. As far as modern renditions of ancient folk songs go John Barleycorn (together with Sandy Denny's Banks of the Nile) is among the very best.
Sadly only Steve Winwood still plays on. Chris Wood died tragically young in 1983 at the age of 39 and Jim Capaldi died in 2005, also too young, at the age of 61. We are left with the beautiful result of their joint creative energies.


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