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book review

  • Everything you think you know about Israeli-Palestinian peace is wrong

    Israelis and Palestinians have grown the furthest apart during periods of quiet; it is in times of violence that the two nations have suddenly become flexible in their positions. That defies everything we tell ourselves about prospects for peace, and everything the world has told Palestinians they must do to achieve it. A review of 'The Only Language They Understand,' by Nathan Thrall. “The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine”, by Nathan Thrall, Metropolitan Books, 2017, 336 pages. The year 2012 was particularly noteworthy in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: for the first time since…

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  • 'Literature's task is to pose alternatives to political reality'

    “Art and War: Poetry, Pulp and Politics in Israeli Fiction”, by Lavie Tidhar and Shimon Adaf; Repeater, 300 pages, $14.95 Have you ever eavesdropped on the conversations of the brilliant people at the table next to you, and wanted to jump in and interrupt, to ask your own questions? Art and War: Poetry, Pulp and Politics in Israeli Fiction, a new book of conversations between two writers, is sure to make readers feel that way. Art and War consists of conversations between Sapir Prize winning Tel Aviv resident Shimon Adaf and World Fantasy Award winning London resident Lavie Tidhar about the…

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  • A most determined occupation and its cursed victory

    It is not momentum or errors or personality quirks which have sustained the occupation, but a clear determination by Israel’s elite to maintain control of the West Bank and Gaza. Those who are willing to openly examine how Israel – and the pre-state Zionist Jewish community in the Holy Land – conducted itself prior to 1967, can only view the occupation as part of a natural continuum. Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories. By Ahron Bregman. Allen Lane; 416 pages; £25. I received my copy of Cursed Victory – Ahron Bregman's history of the occupation – on the…

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  • 'Dear Darwish': A poetically and politically brave book

    Israeli-American poet Morani Kornberg-Weiss breaks with conventional poetics and mainstream politics. But who, exactly, is Dear Darwish for?  Dear Darwish, Morani Kornberg-Weiss’s first collection of poetry, opens with a prose poem that that doubles as an indictment of Israeli society. Cleverly disguised as a letter, it is addressed to the late Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Like the poems that follow it, “Dear Mahmoud” does many things at once. It captures the violence inherent in establishing and maintaining the Jewish state. It accurately depicts Israelis’ objectifying and dehumanizing view of Palestinians. It shows how the state’s violence against Palestinians has seeped…

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  • Book Review: On Ari Shavit's 'My Promised Land'

    The Zionist story, re-told by the elite, for the elite. A new book by Haaretz journalist Ari Shavit won rare compliments in recent weeks from the liberal Jewish elite in the United States. A couple of prominent Jewish writers—Leon Wieseltier and Thomas Freidman—praised the book on the pages of the New York Times, the New Yorker’s editor held a party for the book and its author at his home, Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg handed the Natan Prize to Shavit, and more. The 17 chapters of My Promised Land: The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel (Random House, English only) re-narrate the story…

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  • Fantasized homeland: Review of Shlomo Sand's new book

    A review of Shlomo Sand's "The Invention of the Land of Israel" and other musings on religious Zionism. "After the people was exiled from its land by force of arms, it kept faith with it in all the lands of its diaspora, and never ceased from praying and hoping to return to its land and renewing in it its political sovereignty."  Among the many falsehoods contained in Israel's Declaration of Independence, this must be the most baseless, yet you can hardly describe the core of Zionism without it. After dedicating his earlier book, "The Invention of the Jewish People," to…

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  • A homage to David Grossman, to mark his new novel

    I'd like to step away from the relentless discussion of Grossman's activism and to explain why he hold such a tremendous place for me and many more as an author - and what his last novel to appear in English tells of this country's future. David Grossman has a new book coming out today in Israel; it's Hebrew title translates as "Falling out of Time." Grossman is a politically contentious figure; to many Israelis, he is too political, while to many activists, he is not political enough. He's been accused equally of being subversive and of serving the hegemony and…

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