Description: Inspired by stories he heard in the West Bank as a child, Hillel Cohen uncovers a hidden history in this extraordinary and beautifully written book–a history central to the narrative of the Israel-Palestine conflict but for the most part willfully ignored until now. In Army of Shadows, initially published in Israel to high acclaim and intense controversy, he tells the story of Arabs who, from the very beginning of the Arab-Israeli encounter, sided with the Zionists and aided them politically, economically, and in security matters. Based on newly declassified documents and research in Zionist, Arab, and British sources, Army of Shadows follows Bedouins who hosted Jewish neighbors, weapons dealers, pro-Zionist propagandists, and informers and local leaders who cooperated with the Zionists, and others to reveal an alternate history of the mandate period with repercussions extending to this day. The book illuminates the Palestinian nationalist movement, which branded these “collaborators” as traitors and persecuted them; the Zionist movement, which used them to undermine Palestinian society from within and betrayed them; and the collaborators themselves, who held an alternate view of Palestinian nationalism. Army of Shadows offers a crucial new view of history from below and raises profound questions about the roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Description: “Now that I am seventy years of age, it is my prerogative to offer a summing up,” says Meron Benvenisti, internationally known author and columnist, Jerusalem native, and scion of Israel’s founders. Born in Palestine in 1934 to a Sephardic father and an Ashkenazi mother, Benvenisti has enjoyed an unusual vantage point from which to consider his homeland’s conflicts and controversies.
Throughout his long and provocative career as a scholar, an elected official, and a respected journalist, he has remained intimately involved with Israel’s social and political development.
Part memoir and part political polemic, Son of the Cypresses threads Benvenisti’s own story through the story of Israel. The result is a vivid, sharply drawn eyewitness account of pre-state Jerusalem and Israel’s early years. He memorably sets the scene by recalling his father’s emotional journey from Jewish Salonika in 1913 to Palestine, with all its attendant euphoria and frustration, and his father’s pioneer dedication to inculcating Israeli youth with a “native’s” attachment to the homeland.
In describing the colorful and lively Jerusalem in which he grew up, Benvenisti recalls the many challenges faced by new Jewish immigrants, who found themselves not only in conflict with the Arab population but also with each other as Sephardim and Ashkenazim. He revisits his own public disagreements with both Zionists and Palestinians and shares indelible memories such as his boyhood experiences of the 1948 War. In remembering his life as an Israeli sabra, Benvenisti offers a vivid record of the historical roots of the conflict that persists today.
Description: Israel’s military court system, a centerpiece of Israel’s apparatus of control in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967, has prosecuted hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. This authoritative book provides a rare look at an institution that lies both figuratively and literally at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Lisa Hajjar has conducted in-depth interviews with dozens of Israelis and Palestinians–including judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, defendants, and translators–about their experiences and practices to explain how this system functions, and how its functioning has affected the conflict. Her lucid, richly detailed, and theoretically sophisticated study highlights the array of problems and debates that characterize Israel’s military courts as it asks how the law is deployed to protect and further the interests of the Israeli state and how it has been used to articulate and defend the rights of Palestinians living under occupation.
Description: In this long-awaited sequel to his international bestseller The Holocaust Industry, Norman G. Finkelstein moves from an iconoclastic interrogation of the new anti-Semitism to a meticulously researched exposé of the corruption of scholarship on the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Bringing to bear the latest findings on the conflict and recasting the scholarly debate, Finkelstein points to a consensus among historians and human rights organizations on the factual record. Why, then, does so much controversy swirl around the conflict? Finkelstein’s answer, copiously documented, is that apologists for Israel contrive controversy. Whenever Israel comes under international pressure, another media campaign alleging a global outbreak of anti-Semitism is mounted.
Finkelstein also scrutinizes the proliferation of distortion masquerading as history. Recalling Joan Peters’ book From Time Immemorial, published to great fanfare in 1984 but subsequently exposed as an academic hoax, he asks deeply troubling questions here about the periodic reappearance of spurious scholarship and the uncritical acclaim it receives. The most recent addition to this genre, Finkelstein argues, is Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz’s bestseller, The Case for Israel.
The core analysis of Beyond Chutzpah sets Dershowitz’s assertions on Israel’s human rights record against the findings of the mainstream human rights community. Sifting through thousands of pages of reports from organizations such as Amnesty International, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch, Finkelstein argues that Dershowitz has misrepresented the facts.
Thoroughly researched and tightly argued, Beyond Chutzpah lifts the veil of controversy shrouding the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Supporters of this book will not include Alan Dershowitz, author of The Case for Israel (2003). Very little of Dershowitz’s widely acclaimed defense of Israel’s occupation policies escapes Finkelstein’s withering scrutiny. Behind Dershowitz’s firm assurances that Israel is dealing with its adversaries justly and humanely, Finkelstein discerns ugly realities, including brutal torture of Palestinian prisoners and lethal disregard for Palestinian children and noncombatants. In Finkelstein’s assessment, Israel is grievously violating Palestinian rights because its leaders deliberately choose to ignore both the humanity of the Palestinian people and the justice of international law. And in the claim that will perhaps stir the fiercest debates, Finkelstein asserts that when Dershowitz and his allies defend Israel with shoddy and mendacious scholarship, they actually stoke the very anti-Semitism they claim to be combating. Neither anti-Semitism nor global antipathy toward Israel will persist, Finkelstein avers, if Israel and its partisans will honestly confront and redress the malign consequences of current Israeli policies. This book, which has already sparked intense controversy, belongs in collections seeking to represent multiple points of view on significant topics of international interest. Bryce Christensen
Description: Widely praised as the definitive history of Beirut, this is the story of a city that has stood at the crossroads of Mediterranean civilization for more than four thousand years. The last major work completed by Samir Kassir before his tragic death in 2005, Beirut is a tour de force that takes the reader from the ancient to the modern world, offering a dazzling panorama of the city’s Seleucid, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and French incarnations. Kassir vividly describes Beirut’s spectacular growth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, concentrating on its emergence after the Second World War as a cosmopolitan capital until its near destruction during the devastating Lebanese civil war of 1975-1990. Generously illustrated and eloquently written, Beirut illuminates contemporary issues of modernity and democracy while at the same time memorably recreating the atmosphere of one of the world’s most picturesque, dynamic, and resilient cities.
Physically confined between Mount Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea, Beirut possesses an urban character that has been molded by empires and immigrants. Written by an able intellectual whom assassins murdered in 2005, this thorough history reflects Kassir’s intimate familiarity with modern Beirut’s streets and neighborhoods. His accounts of boulevards and buildings embody the purposes of those who constructed them, from Romans whose ruins dot the city to Ottomans whose vestiges are more intact to the French whose cultural influence remains strong even now. Attributes of Beirut that have attracted outside interest—as a transition point between Europe and the Near East, as a cultural border between Christian and Islamic spheres—fostered the unique status Beirut attained by the mid-twentieth century, that of the Arab world’s center of publishing, higher education, and literary and performing arts, not to mention its raffish attraction as a tourist destination. But the snake in the garden, religious communalism, stirred the civil war of 1975–90, which ruined the city. Generously illustrated, Kassir’s legacy is an evocative portrait of a great but tragic metropolis. –Gilbert Taylor.