Tag Archives: Books

My review of The Racket

An important new book which blows the whistle on the global system of capitalist control:

With this, his second book, Matt Kennard has announced his presence on the scene as the next generation’s John Pilger.

A former Financial Times investigative reporter, Kennard has spent years interviewing those intimately involved in running what he terms the racket, the corporations and their political servants that really run our world in their own interests, and that of their global hegemony. But he also talks to its victims. As he mentioned at his book launch earlier this month, The Racket has essentially been ten years in the making.

 

Read the whole thing over at MEMO.

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My review of Shlomo Sand’s new book, “The Invention of the Land of Israel”

A fascinating read. Here is my opinion on it.

In 1897, the same year as the first Zionist congress, Israel Belkind (“the first practical Zionist”) drew a map: “ ‘The Jordan splits the Land of Israel in two different sections,’ asserted Belkind, whose assessment was subsequently adopted by most [Zionist] settlers of the period” (216).

For the future first prime minister of Israel David Ben Gurion, these borders “were too expansive and untenable, while the borders of the Talmudic commandment were too narrow.” In 1918 he gave his own take: “In the north — the Litani River, between Tyre and Sidon [in Lebanon] … In the east — the Syrian Desert. The eastern border of the Land of Israel should not be precisely demarcated … the Land’s eastern borders will be diverted eastwards, and the area of the Land of Israel will expand” (217).

Not for nothing were the borders of the new state unmentioned in its declaration of independence (233).

UPDATE: Someone has translated my review into French.

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My review of Tony Lerman’s book

A great read and most interesting (and incidentally nice to see Pluto put out an affordable hardback edition). This positive review by me for EI will likely be grist to his enemies’ mill, but Tony doesn’t seem too worried about that any more. An extract:

What happens when a mainstream public figure within the Jewish community develops doubts about Israel and Zionism? Can the head of an important Jewish think tank who has come to reject his Zionist convictions sustain his position as a critical insider?

These questions are addressed in The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist, a new memoir by Antony Lerman.

Born to moderate orthodox parents in Golders Green (3), London, Lerman joined the Habonim labor Zionist youth movement in his teens. Along with its youth centers, Habonim owned a remote East Sussex farm known as the hachshara (“training”) where it prepared members for life in the kibbutzim, Israel’s collective agricultural colonies (31).

He eventually went on to become leader of the movement in the UK. Although after 1967 Habonim activists still saw themselves “as guardians of moderate and liberal socialist Zionism … the vast majority of us slipped so easily into a way of thinking that legitimized the occupation” of the West Bank, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights (34-5).

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My review of “The Palestine-Israel Conflict: A Basic Introduction”

Here’s my review for EI. The found the book to be something of a let down:

At the root of such problems is Harms’ fundamental approach, which he spells out in the preface: “I have sought to present the history of the conflict in a balanced and actual light” (xv). The aim of imposing the prism of “balance” on the fundamentally imbalanced situation of a settler movement’s ongoing colonization of an occupied land is doomed to failure. This lies at the heart of much of what is wrong with the book.

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Book review: how Israeli school textbooks teach kids to hate

I have reviewed Nurit Peled-Elhanan’s import study of Israeli school textbooks for EI. It’s been going viral online, especially on Twitter (sometimes I’m not quite sure why certain articles take off more than others). I previously blogged a video of her being interviewed too. Here’s an extract of my review:

In an important new book, Palestine in Israeli School Books, Israeli language and education professor Nurit Peled-Elhanan buries the second part of Livni’s myth once and for all.

Peled-Elhanan examines 17 Israeli school textbooks on history, geography and civic studies. Her conclusions are an indictment of the Israeli system of indoctrination and its cultivation of anti-Arab racism from an early age: “The books studied here harness the past to the benefit of the … Israeli policy of expansion, whether they were published during leftist or right-wing [education] ministries” (224).

Update: this article was pretty popular, probably my most popular book review. It has been translated into Flemish Dutch (I can’t vouch for the translation and know nothing about the website). I think it was translated into French as well, but I can’t find the link now.

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My review of Norman Finkelstein’s new book

 My review of Knowing Too Much was published by EI yesterday. Here is a short extract:

The best chapter in the book is the one dedicated to giving Benny Morris a good kicking. Morris gained fame as one of the “new historians” who dived into the Israeli archives and reassessed old Zionist myths about the establishment of Israel. Morris’ exposure of the deliberate and calculated nature of Israel’s mass expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 remains significant.

If Knowing Too Much had come out in 2008 (as originally intended), the central argument may have been more controversial, but as Finkelstein notes it has by now almost passed into conventional wisdom (299). A more interesting question, though, is why this shift in liberal opinion has happened, and here Finkelstein is most unconvincing.

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Review of Tom Hurndall’s first and last photography book

 Tom Hurndall, the British photography student and ISM activist was murdered by an Israeli sniper in 2003. His family and friends got together to put out a book of his photography and writing. Here is my review of it for Electronic Intifada:

The photography here is accompanied by entries from Hurndall’s diary, emails he sent back home and articles he wrote in a student magazine. There are photos from Iraq and Jordan, but half of the book is dedicated to his Gaza work. This high-quality glossy book has been lovingly curated and put together, and judging from the acknowledgments page, his family, friends and supporters even stumped up the money. The design of the book is beautiful, even though the subject matter is often brutal and stark. It is an almost-macabre artifact.

Read the whole review here.

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