Corasanti responds to Abulhawa: My purpose in writing ‘The Almond Tree’ was to shine a light on Palestinian suffering and help bring about peace

Israel/Palestine

The following is the author’s response to Susan Abulhawa’s review The Almond Tree: When novels distort legacies of struggle.

Also, below Michelle Cohen Corasanti’s article we are publishing an article by Ahmad Abu Hussein a primary source with first-hand knowledge of the subject-matter in question, who affirms Ms. Cohen Corasanti’s rebuttal.

The Almond Tree

The Almond Tree

I’d like to thank Susan Abulhawa for taking notice of The Almond Tree although I must say that I am both fascinated and mystified by her review. She correctly points out that The Almond Tree has received very favorable reviews. She noted that an article in the Huffington Post predicted it will become one of the best sellers of the decade. She also correctly implied that part of its appeal is that it is a novel written in the voice of a Palestinian Muslim male by a Jewish American woman.  As the sales and reviews of the novel suggest, The Almond Tree is succeeding in shining a light on the suffering of the Palestinian people. Major publications also state that The Almond Tree, is a Kite Runner– esque novel and can be a game changer. Like The Kite Runner, The Almond Tree is reaching readers across the board. Many of these readers would never otherwise read a book about the Palestinians. My goal was to write a “page-turner” that also had the ability to offer readers an opportunity to step into at least one Palestinian’s shoes and learn some small measure of the Palestinian narrative.

The Almond Tree, I am told, stimulates readers to seek greater understanding of the Palestinian condition and question their own beliefs about the conflict and its root cause. It is a novel forged from the traditions of its precursors, such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. That book was written by a white woman in the voice of a black man and changed the hearts and minds of white Americans. Does anyone believe that her target audience was black American slaves? Similarly, The Almond Tree isn’t meant to preach to the choir.
I believe it’s fair to say, that in the United States the Palestinian narrative is not known and not understood. What’s worse is that the Palestinians have been unfairly stereotyped and had their history either distorted or totally erased.

Judging from Ms. Abulhawa’s lectures, she appears to share a similar view of such perceptions in the United States.  Accordingly, I am completely mystified by Ms. Abulhawa’s  criticism of The Almond Tree especially since The Almond Tree reaches audiences in the United States not shared widely by readers of Edward Said or Ms.Abulhawa.  She suggests that only Palestinians should write about the Palestinian narrative.  Ask yourself, what is more powerful, one hundred books written by the victims of oppression describing occurrence after occurrence of loss, hardship and suffering or one book described as Kite Runner-esque and predicted to be one of the best sellers of the decade by an author perceived to be a member of the ruling, oppressor class that condemns the unjust, cruel oppression by the ruling class and extols the virtues and the  legal and moral rights of the subjugated class? Not only is it succeeding in changing people’s existing positions, but it is also opening people’s eyes who until reading The Almond Tree could care less about the Palestinians.

Just look to the criminal justice system of any country for guidance in this matter. It’s well established that the confession of the accused party is always more powerful, more persuasive than the complaints of a victim.

Now with regard to specific comments about The Almond Tree presented in Ms. Abulhawa’s review.  I feel it necessary to correct certain statements that she made so that our readers are not confused about the history and geography of Israel and Palestine. I believe they are entitled to accuracy.

The Almond Tree starts in 1955 in a small village in the Triangle inside the green line that I named ElKouriyah village.  None of my characters are from the West Bank and no part of my novel takes place in the West Bank. I do not understand why Ms. Abulhawa would think that Ichmad is from the West Bank. In 1955, the West Bank was controlled by Jordan and continued to be controlled by Jordan until 1967. Accordingly, it would be wrong to think that Elkouriyah village was located in the West Bank in light of the fact that for more than the first one hundred pages of The Almond Tree, the reader is made painfully aware that the village is under Israeli martial law. Until 1966, the Palestinians in the Triangle inside the green line, among other places in Israel, were ruled by Israeli martial law.

I lived inside the green line, in Jerusalem and other places, for seven years, in high school and college in the eighties. I witnessed first-hand the Palestinian reality there. I have my BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Middle Eastern studies. In that program, with me, were many Palestinians from inside the green line from areas such as the Triangle.

In fact, I came up with the name for my protagonist from a Palestinian friend who attended  Hebrew University with me. His name was Ahmed. He was from Baqa Elgharbiya in the Triangle, also known as “The Little Triangle.” As I had no family in Israel, Palestinian friends would invite me to their homes on weekends.  I went with him to a wedding in his village. His parents and others of their generation called him Ichmad. They spoke to me in a rural dialect such as, “Chief Halich? Sho Ismich?” This was in the eighties before internet reached us there. My protagonist would be from my friend Ahmed’s parents’ generation.  What I didn’t realize was that many Palestinians didn’t know that and believed Ichmad was the Israeli pronunciation of the name Ahmed. As I heard many Israelis say the name Ahmed because he and other Ahmeds were in class with me at Hebrew University, the Israelis pronounce the name with an Ah and not an Ich. My book will be published over the next twelve months in ten languages. Despite being perfectly correct on this point, I have suggested that the name be changed from Ichmad to Ahmed because this level of nuance is lost and even misconstrued by many readers. The South Asian English edition has already been changed.

Ms. Abulhawa claims “Only in the most orientalist imaginations would a Palestinian groom lift the veil of his bride with the tip of a sword.” She obviously has failed to watch the film, Wedding in Galilee by Palestinian film-maker Marcel Khelifi. Furthermore, I am quite familiar with a wedding in a Palestinian village in the Galilee because, unlike Ms. Abulhawa, I actually had one. Moreover, my Palestinian groom in fact received a scholarship to Hebrew University.

Never did I imply that a sewing machine was used in the tent to make Ichmad’s clothes. As I am someone who knows how to sew and has made many of my children’s clothes, I am well aware that one can sew by hand such items and does not need a machine. As a novelist, it was important for me to show that Ichmad’s family lived in abject poverty. One way I achieved this was to show his family being so poor that the mother had to make their clothes.  Another is to show rice was a staple in their diet.  I did this not to show that the Palestinian diet is rice based, but because I had a Palestinian friend whose father went to prison for over a decade and he told me that they were so poor that he grew up on rice because they couldn’t afford much more. He grew up on a poverty diet, not a Palestinian diet.

The Almond Tree shows that Ichmad is not only a genius, but is also smarter than all his Jewish peers. He goes on to win a Nobel Prize. Comparing him to the black domestic help that remains just that in The Help is simply not accurate.

In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe believed that white women would be more sympathetic to the plight of the blacks. As a result, she made white females, such as Eva, who were against slavery beautiful and brilliant to give white women heroines to emulate. The Almond Tree isn’t a beauty contest between Palestinian and Jewish women. It is about giving women heroines to emulate. Furthermore, Ichmad’s first love is Palestinian, beautiful and brilliant.

Professor Menachem Sharon starts off as an evil racist and so his name helps convey that sentiment. He lies and maliciously tries to sabotage Ichmad at first until he is forced to hire him as his research assistant. When this occurs he recognizes Ichmad’s genius and changes. As my motive in writing The Almond Tree is to try to help bring about change I show the change I would like to see. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which President Abraham Lincoln allegedly claimed brought about the civil war, even the white supremacists who beat Uncle Tom to death later convert to Christianity.  Harriet Beecher Stowe used Christianity as a bridge just like I used science.

I took a course in Arabic literature at Harvard called East/West. A major theme in that course was about eastern men who went to the west, fell in love with western women, returned home and were blinded by the west until they realized the greatness of their culture. One story we studied was “The Lamp of Um Hashem.” In that story, an Egyptian man from a rural village goes to the UK to study medicine. While there he falls in love with a British woman. She breaks up with him. He returns to his village. His parents want him to marry his cousin. His cousin is going blind and his parents are treating her eyes with oil from Um Hashem’s’ lamp. He is an eye specialist and insists they stop and he begins to treat her with western medicine. Her eyes deteriorate. His parents begin to treat her again with the oil and she improves. Her blindness represented his blinders. His blinders come off and he realizes the greatness of his culture. He marries his cousin and lives happily ever after.

Ms. Abulhawa states that Ichmad’s second wife who is Palestinian could not compete with his Jewish first wife. After his Jewish wife is killed Rachel Corrie style, Ichmad is devastated. He agrees to an arranged marriage to please his parents while he still hasn’t recovered from the brutal murder of his Jewish wife. At first he is blind to the greatness of his Palestinian wife and how well suited they are for each other until their son is born and his blinders come off. That is a theme from Arabic literature.

I didn’t need a Palestinian editor because I lived among the Palestinians inside the green line for seven years and saw with my own eyes the Palestinian reality.

I cannot think of any events in my novel that aren’t fictionalized reality and my reasons for doing so were as follows. The majority of people in the US don’t care enough to read non-fiction accounts about what’s happening to Palestinians. By writing about them in a compelling novel form, the reader has 348 pages to become invested in the characters and care about what happens to them.  That is why people are saying that The Almond Tree changed the way they view the conflict. Another reason was that if anyone tried to say Israel would never do something that occurred in The Almond Tree, I wanted to make sure I could show that it already had.

Ichmad is able to succeed because he has a skill the Israelis value. In the end of the novel, when Ichmad finds his brother, the freedom fighter, he realizes that in saving himself and his immediate family, he left his people behind. He then tries to use his stature to shine a light on his people’s suffering. The Almond Tree doesn’t condemn or advocate one way or the other, which is pointed out by Palestinians such as Jamal Kanj, the author of the excellent book, Children of Catastrophe. He has also written a review of The Almond Tree. The Almond Tree shows how Ichmad is able to succeed within the framework of the oppressors’ institutions through collaboration while his brother resists. I think it is accurate to show that the collaborator would be financially more successful whereas the freedom fighter sacrifices such success in order to resist the oppressor. My book accurately shows how the resistance fighter is more concerned with his people whereas the collaborator is not.

My purpose in writing The Almond Tree was to try and shine a light on Palestinian suffering and help bring about peace. I believe that awareness leads to understanding and understanding leads to change.  I have a BA from Hebrew University and an MA from Harvard both in Middle Eastern studies. I am also a lawyer trained in international and human rights law. As already mentioned, I’m Jewish and have lived inside the green line for seven years. In the Huffington Post, The Almond Tree is described as ”a drama of the proportions of The Kite Runner, but set in Palestine.” I am quite frankly astonished to read that Ms. Abulhawa views the success of The Almond Tree in shining a light on Palestinian suffering and creating awareness as a negative development.  Are we not working to achieve the same goal? Are we not hoping to end Palestinian suffering and bring about positive change?  We should all wonder how she can believe that her attack on The Almond Tree somehow benefits the Palestinian people?

Ahmad Abu Hussein’s Rebuttal to Susan Abulhawa’s Review “The Almond Tree: When novels distort legacies of struggle”

By Ahmad Abu Hussein from Baqa Elgharbiyah Village in the Triangle

How is it possible that American Jewess Michelle Cohen Corasanti would know more about our Palestinian reality in the Triangle than Susan Abulhawa, an American of Palestinian descent? The answer is easy. As a Jew, Michelle was allowed to live inside the 1949 armistice lines and witness first-hand the lives of Palestinians who remained in what became Israel. That is something the majority of Palestinians in exile are denied. In addition, Michelle came with an open mind and a desire to know the truth.

I know because I’m a Palestinian Muslim from Baqa Elgharbiyah village in the Triangle, which is located inside the green line — in Israel. I met Michelle on our first day of college at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was the only American in our department of Middle Eastern studies and we became instant friends.

Over the next three years, Michelle and I would spend countless hours together preparing for classes. As we studied Israel’s version of history in which we, Palestinians, were referred to prior to 1948 as the ‘Arabs of the Land of Israel,’ I filled her in on the truth.

During those years, Michelle lived my life with me and my friends. She witnessed first-hand the way we were treated, how we lived, our customs, and our political realities.

After college, Michelle returned to the United States to pursue graduate school in Middle Eastern studies at Harvard University; and I eventually returned to my village in the Triangle. We lost touch until I read a review of Michelle’s novel, The Almond Tree, in Al Jazeera that shocked and saddened me.

The reviewer, Susan Abulhawa, attacked Michelle for purportedly distorting Palestinian legacy. Upon reading Michelle’s book, I was outraged. It was obvious that Ms. Abulhawa knew nothing about the lives of Palestinians in the Triangle, which was accurately depicted in Michelle’s internationally bestselling novel,The Almond Tree.

Michelle’s novel was based, to a large extent, on realities I’d shown her and stories I’d told her. These were not stories Michelle stole — as Ms. Abulhawa tried to argue. They were stories that Michelle brilliantly turned into a novel that shined a light on our plight.

Here is the story behind The Almond Tree: essay.

In the first 100 pages of The Almond Tree, which takes place between the years 1955 and 1966, Michelle’s protagonist is living under Israeli martial law. Ms. Abulhawa erroneously suggested in her review that the novel’s protagonist was from the West Bank, which did not come under Israeli occupation until June 1967.

As Palestinians under Israeli rule from 1948 on, we were isolated from Ms. Abulhawa and the rest of the Arab world. The majority of Palestinians in Israel lived until 1966 under Israeli martial law, which was formally British marital law adopted by Israel in 1948. Israel continues to use that same law today to rule the West Bank. So, from the start, Ms. Abulhawa didn’t even know where the novel’s protagonist was from.

Ms. Abulhawa unfairly accused Michelle of being a white supremacist because her protagonist went to Hebrew University instead of college in the West Bank. Ms. Abulhawa also claimed that such Palestinians aren’t allowed to attend college at Israeli universities, adding “on scholarship, no less.” The novel’s protagonist went to college in 1966. At that time, the West bank was under Jordanian control. Michelle’s protagonist’s village was located in Israel. He won a scholarship and stipend to Hebrew University after beating all of the Jewish Israeli students in a math competition because he was smarter than them. In exchange, he was not required to give anything to Israel.

At the time when the novel’s protagonist was to go to college, his father was serving a 14 year prison term in Israel. As the oldest child, he was the main breadwinner for his illiterate mother, his dependent crippled brother and the rest of his younger siblings, who he was barely able to keep afloat. The protagonist was raised under the state of Israel and his family paid taxes in Israel. He was entitled to attend Israeli universities and was absolutely forbidden to travel to Arab countries let alone attend college there. In fact, at that time, it was against Israeli law for a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship to have contact with any Arab outside of Israel. It would not be credible to any reader for him to self-deport to Jordan for university, thereby abandoning his family. Anyone with even the most basic understanding of the political realities of the Palestinians in Israel would have been familiar with these basic facts. Ms. Abulhawa’s bogus claim that Michelle is a white supremacist is based on fallacy and ignorance.

Israel has a well-documented policy of pushing Palestinian intellectuals in Israel into the sciences, while at the same time making military service a prerequisite for high level science jobs. If these Palestinian scientists want to work in their field, they need to go abroad. That is known as one of Israel’s milder forms of ethnic cleansing. So Israel does give scholarships to Palestinians in Israel. And yes, Palestinians in Israel do attend Israeli universities.

And unlike Ms. Abulhawa, I’m not writing an academic review of a book based on fabricated facts. I’m writing about life as I experienced it living in a Palestinian village in what became Israel in 1948 and feel it is important to set the facts straight. We Palestinians who live under what became Israel in 1948 pay Israeli taxes and attend Israeli schools and universities. We have no other choice. We’ve endured harsh treatment and fought against all odds to remain in our homes and keep Palestinian traditions the way they were in Palestine before 1948. Ms. Abulhawa was wrong when she insinuated in her review that we’re collaborators because we refuse to leave our homes. Israel would love for us to self deport, not attend its universities and be considered collaborators. Ms. Abulhawa is supporting Israel against us. If that wasn’t bad enough, she had the nerve to mock our rural traditional Palestinian ways criticizing The Almond Tree’s depiction of our customs, claiming that they exist only in “the most Orientalist imaginations.”

We are proud of our customs and traditions; Michelle did not invent them because she is an “Orientalist.” Our traditions are part of the preserved Palestinian legacy and way of life in the Triangle. Sadly, Ms. Abulhawa wielded the term “Orientalist” the same way Zionists use “anti-Semitic.”

In addition, Ms. Abulhawa’s claim that the depiction of a brilliant Palestinian math and science prodigy who goes on to win a Nobel Prize in science is equivalent to a black maid in Mississippi just shows the extent Ms. Abulhawa is willing to go to deceive people.

In the Triangle, we take pride in preserving our regional Palestinian vernacular, despite Israel’s efforts to normalize the Arabic language. Israel wants the world to believe that we are Arabs, not Palestinians, because, according to their falsified version of history, Palestine never existed.

In the Triangle, the first letter in Ahmad, which is my name, is pronounced in colloquial Arabic with a kasra.The A in Ahmad thus becomes the letter I in English. As the second letter in Ahmad, ح, doesn’t exist in English, when we try and capture Ahmad with a kasra in English, we can either spell it Ihmad or Ichmad. If we write it as Ihmad, one cannot tell if the h stands for the letter ه or the letter ح. So Michelle used “ch” to capture the ح, which is a harder sound than the letter h that represents ه, but not as hard as the “kh” which represents in English the sound for the Arabic letter خ. Ms. Abulhawa claimed the Ichmad is how Israelis pronounce Ahmad. That is completely incorrect. Israelis can pronounce the A vowel. “Ch” isn’t in Hebrew. Those are Latin letters in which English is written. Hebrew is written in different characters. Hebrew, which is also a Semitic language, has the exact sounding letter as the ح.

Words such as challah and chutzpah begin with that letter. “Ch” is how that sound is captured in English. It’s been captured that way long before Zionism was even an ideology. The c is used to indicate to the English speaker to make the h harder than a normal h, but not as hard as the “kh”. “Kh” in English stands for the letter خ, which is needed to spell the Arabic word that means “to put out or suffocate like a fire” which, Ms. Abulhawa wrongly claimed Ichmad meant. An equivalent of the Arabic letter خ doesn’t exist in Hebrew. Hebrew letters in Arabic.

Ms. Abulhawa further claimed that she knew every accent in the Triangle and no one pronounced Ahmad that way. Unfortunately, Ms. Abulhawa most probably has never made it to the Triangle. Had she been here, she’d know how Ahmad is pronounced in our colloquial tongue. Knowingly or because of ignorance, Ms. Abulhawa is helping Israel obliterate our Palestinian vernacular in the Triangle by insisting on normalizing the name Ahmad.

The Almond Tree has succeeded in shining a bright light on our plight and I couldn’t remain quiet while Ms. Abulhawa joins hands with Zionists in trying to unjustly snuff it out. She has distorted the legacy of the Palestinians who have managed to remain in the Triangle against all odds.

Adolf Hitler once said, “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” No one can deny that the Zionists have excelled at that. Then they block the truth from being heard.

That is exactly what Ms. Abulhawa has done. She’s tried to employ Zionist tactics to discredit The Almond Tree. Instead of recanting her inaccurate review, Ms. Abulhawa indulged in making unfounded accusations to undermine the author of The Almond Tree by calling her a white supremacist, criminal, racist, and distorter of Palestinian legacy and blocking Michelle’s rebuttal.

For anyone who would like to read an accurate depiction of a Palestinian boy’s life growing up in Israel, I highly recommend this amazing story. Ms. Abulhawa’s negative review of The Almond Tree stands alone in a sea of praise, towering even the Zionists who were unhappy with the novel’s accurate portrayal of our life under the State of Israel.


Bio:
Ahmad Abu Hussein is a Palestinian from Baqa Elgharbiyah village in the Triangle, where he lives with his family. He has a BA in Middle Eastern studies and an English teaching certificate from Hunter College. He is both a high school teacher and college lecturer as well as an award-winning author of the books: ELSA and To Study English. He is currently writing his third book, a novel, about a Palestinian from Israel.

About Michelle Cohen Corasanti

I have my BA from Hebrew University and my MA from Harvard, both in Middle Eastern studies. I'm a lawyer trained in international and human rights law. I lived in Jerusalem for 7 years. I'm the author of the novel, The Almond Tree

Other posts by .


Posted In:

200 Responses

  1. tokyobk
    December 1, 2013, 11:22 pm

    You are either feigning naiveté or else you are really out of your depth here, and indeed privileged in a way that is in fact relevant to the critique.

    The grounds by which to reject almost all of Ms. Abulhawa’s criticisms would have been in the name of literature; a human writing about humans. In that case you need no other authority or authentication from anyone, not even the legitimizing “native.”

    If you are saying you set out to be a Harriet Stowe, and your project is one of pathos and rescue (either by you the author or your good and evil West and East characters) than you have already signed on to the authenticity politics that will be used to dismantle your text and your right to have conceived it.

    • Cliff
      December 2, 2013, 3:33 am

      What a load of ****.

      in the name of literature; a human writing about humans

      Oh really? So the ‘International Jew’ by Henry Ford was just ‘humans writing about humans’? LOL

      Or the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’?

      Etc.

      You are such a two-faced troll, tokyobk. At once claiming to be a non-Zionist and then focusing all your precious energies on trolling Palestinian agency while ignoring the multitude of topics on this blog dealing with Israeli criminality and human rights violations.

      No, you instead focus on lecturing a Palestinian or their supporters on their rejection of a privileged yuppie Israeli Jew’s fantasy.

      No one needs your damage control. We expect Terry Gross to do that for this lameass book.

      • tokyobk
        December 2, 2013, 7:19 pm

        I refer to Faulkner, Morrison, Joyce, Baldwin etc…

        Ford’s work and the PEOZ pose as factual. Completely different category. Sure, there are lots of portrayals in literature that I think are bigoted but that is separate form the fact that literature requires an author to get in the mind of people unlike themselves. My point is that the author has already lost to the critique because she essentially buys into the same framework of privileged voices (which I think she should reject).

        Abulhawa does the same thing (portrays “others”) as is her right as an author, separate from how developed her characters are.

        About the rest of your comment, your inability to understand my POV is at this point not my problem since I have repeated my positions. But its funny how saying that Abulhawa is in fact correct here (in a limited sense) is taken by you as zionist subterfuge! And the fact that you think there is a slate of ideas one has to sign onto in order to be consistent to non-zionism shows your own limitations not mine.

        I mention the things that interest me, like everyone else.

      • Cliff
        December 3, 2013, 3:33 am

        Is the writer-in-question in the company of Joyce? Wow!

        As I said, you’re full of crap. This isn’t about your appreciation for literature. You haven’t even read the damn book. You’re no different from OlegR in the sense that he did not read Max’s book but continues to slander it at every turn.

        So my criticisms of your agenda are reasonable. You portray yourself as being past Zionism, but it informs your selective interest here.

        You’re just like hophmi in that regard. Your concern is Jewish identity issues.

        So here you are, defending an Israeli Jew’s right to form a Palestinian narrative. As if we haven’t seen this time and time again.

        So would you defend Shani Boianjiu as well?

      • W.Jones
        December 3, 2013, 10:56 am

        Hey Toky,

        In your initial post I could not really understand your POV. Perhaps Cliff misread you- his responses did not really go through your post line by line either.

        So for example when you write: “My point is that the author has already lost to the critique because she essentially buys into the same framework of privileged voices” – perhaps youc an explain that better.

        Actually I do not really think Abulhawa is portraying “others” so much as you mentioned, because her family is a refugee one, and she writes about a Palestinian family hurt due to the conflict.

        In any case, take care.

    • Donald
      December 2, 2013, 5:57 pm

      “The grounds by which to reject almost all of Ms. Abulhawa’s criticisms would have been in the name of literature; a human writing about humans. In that case you need no other authority or authentication from anyone, not even the legitimizing “native.””

      I have no comment about this book, not having read it. But if an author is writing fiction that involves a heated political issue like the I/P conflict, I would just as soon have the author state his or her views openly and not pretend that they are above the fray, just writing about human beings and not engaged in anything like propaganda. When I hear that sort of thing I immediately expect the worst.

    • Keith
      December 3, 2013, 8:28 pm

      TOKYOBK- An insightful comment which, regrettably, Cliff doesn’t appear to understand.

  2. Annie Robbins
    December 1, 2013, 11:41 pm

    I am quite familiar with a wedding in a Palestinian village in the Galilee because, unlike Ms. Abulhawa, I actually had one. Moreover, my Palestinian groom in fact received a scholarship to Hebrew University.

    well that certainly adds another dimension to the story. did ms corasanti kill herself off in the novel? what else in this book is autobiographical?

    • W.Jones
      December 2, 2013, 2:07 am

      She is pretty.

    • Keith
      December 5, 2013, 12:17 am

      ANNIE- “Moreover, my Palestinian groom in fact received a scholarship to Hebrew University.”

      Say what? Below is a link to her bio in which there is no reference to this alleged wedding. Either she is less than honest there, or less than honest here.
      http://thealmondtreebook.com/author/

      • Annie Robbins
        December 5, 2013, 1:17 am

        Below is a link to her bio in which there is no reference to this alleged wedding. Either she is less than honest there, or less than honest here.

        not disclosing something is not necessarily a sign of dishonesty keith. sometimes it’s a matter of privacy. this is a work of fiction, the book doesn’t require an extensive biography of the author. it could be she was so shaken by the criticism she disclosed details in her response to abulhawa’s critique she had not previously mentioned before. i don’t recall reading anything about harriet stowe before either. besides, lots of people don’t reference past marriages in their bios. there’s probably a lot about ms corasanti we don’t know.

        abulhawa links to an interview of corasanti. there are some comments in there at the beginning about the character nora that i found very intriguing.

  3. agatharchides
    December 1, 2013, 11:54 pm

    Write about Palestinians in a negative light and you are a Zionist, write about them in a positive way and you are an orientalist. Apparently as a white guy, I can’t win. If you don’t want me to talk about you at all, I’m sure I can stop advocating for you and find another worthy cause to occupy my time……

    • Sammar
      December 2, 2013, 12:22 am

      I haven’t read the book – yet – but I think there is more nuance to portraying someone than a negative light or a positive way. Ever heard of the expression “damning with faint praise”?
      One can seem to show a person or a people in a seemingly positive way while insinuating a less positive picture between the lines.
      But as I said, I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if it applies here.
      As far as the Palestinians are concerned, writing the truth will do just fine.

    • Taxi
      December 2, 2013, 1:18 am

      agatharchides,

      Palestinians would prefer you leave their land instead of ‘writing’ about their suffering: profiting from their suffering . Geddit?!!

      • agatharchides
        December 2, 2013, 8:24 am

        I couldn’t possibly leave their land for the very simple reason that I’ve never lived on it. I’m an American. Neither have I ever financially profited from any of my pro-Palestinian activities. However, I think it is highly illogical to be angry at the author of a best-selling book that wins sympathy for their cause because she makes money from it. If anything that’s encouraging, if money is to be made advocating for Palestinians more people might do it. It isn’t like Corasanti caused Palestinian suffering for the purpose of exploiting it.

        In short, here in the US we have too many real enemies and people who need to be won over to turn on each other over various interpretations of what is appropriate in leftist dogma.

      • Taxi
        December 2, 2013, 11:44 am

        Apologies, agatharchides, for misunderstanding where you were coming from.

        As to profiting under the banner of supporting a humanitarian cause, I dunno, I personally find that somewhat charlatanesque. Many entrepreneurial projects that profit from a charitable cause donate a percentage of their profits to the cause they’re championing. Michelle Cohen-Corasanti hasn’t mentioned making donations from her profits to charities that help Gaza children, for instance. God knows Gaza children need it. And she knows it too.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 12:53 pm

        As to profiting under the banner of supporting a humanitarian cause, I dunno,

        Charles Dickens and any number of other authors amassed fortunes by employing fiction in their day jobs to entertain and teach us parables about social and moral injustice, and even greed. I’m blown away when I see people comparing this book to the ‘International Jew’ by Henry Ford or the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’. We are talking about a writer who lived in Israel for seven years and the bizarre idea that she has stolen Susan Abulhawa’s narrative. Abulhawa doesn’t apologize for speaking to us all in exactly the same way through the literary device of Ari Perlstien in her book Mornings in Jenin.

      • MHughes976
        December 2, 2013, 1:05 pm

        Quite so. The same for radical journalists – even Karl Marx. The obligation to be charitable is the same for all of us regardless of how we make legitimate money.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 1:25 pm

        She makes an infantile claim… that Jewish social commentators or authors, who have lived there for years somehow [could not write about it].

        She did not openly say that. She said:

        As close as I feel to African-American culture and as much as I think I know about anti-black racism, I cannot imagine presuming to know enough to write from an African-American character’s voice

        I do not really agree with Abulhawa about that. I think a person in her position could write a book about black peoples’ experiences. But I see anyway she is talking about someone in her own position or equal to her in that society. Perhaps she would agree that a person immersed more deeply than her in the subject culture would be able to write a book, if in consultation with the subject peoples, as she mentioned.

        Personally I find her too restrictive regarding writing about blacks, but anyway she did not say Jewish writers could not write fiction with Palestinian characters.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 2:53 pm

        She makes an infantile claim… that Jewish social commentators or authors, who have lived there for years somehow [could not write about it].

        She did not openly say that.

        Duh! Her article included a bold subheading: “A stolen narrative”.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 3:35 pm

        The “Stolen Narrative” section is a description of how the author of “The Help” took the story from the life of her family’s servant without her permission.

        Her family hired me as a maid for 12 years but then she stole my life and made it a Disney movie
        By Sharon Churcher

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2033369/Her-family-hired-maid-12-years-stole-life-Disney-movie.html

        That does not mean Jewish writers cannot author fictional works to criticize abuses in connection with either Palestine or Israel.

        I am sure she would be quite happy if Israeli authors wrote fictional accounts about individual soldiers in 1948 or 1967 who became disillusioned with the idea that refugees, like Susan’s parents, should not return to their homeland, especially if he shared it with Palestinian activists for comments. I do not think sharing it with them should be a requirement, but it is a bit odd to me that 5 paid editors included no Palestinians and one fundamentalist. But whatever.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 3:51 pm

        The “Stolen Narrative” section is a description of how the author of “The Help” took the story from the life of her family’s servant without her permission.

        You’re either as thick as a brick or you are a case of studied ignorance. The article is titled “The Almond Tree: When novels distort legacies of struggle” and the “stolen narrative” anecdote is presumably introduced because it is pertinent to the subject of the article.

        The second paragraph is not about The Help: Some want to “expose injustice” through fiction. While such impulse is admirable, when coupled with racist assumptions or lack of emotional comprehension of a people’s culture, the result is often muting of already marginalised voices, theft of their narrative, stripping of their agency, and caricaturising of their humanity.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 4:30 pm

        That does not mean Jewish writers cannot author fictional works to criticize abuses in connection with either Palestine or Israel

        Correction: Susan has two articles here at Mondoweiss and the other one says that liberal Jews don’t have the right to criticize or even offer advice to Palestinians. See First they stole our books, then they took our story http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/first-books-story.html

        FYI, Israel is constantly working with other governments to recover stolen works and cultural objects using international and local laws. The governments of both Palestine and Jordan have filed legal claims demanding the return of other things, like the Dead Sea Scrolls. So the Jewish documentary director was offering good advice when he pointed out that it is important to file a formal claim regarding the stolen books.

        When Zionists say that it’s racist to criticize Israeli policies or Palestinians say that it is racist to criticize or offer advice to them, they’re simply wrong.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 4:50 pm

        Dear Hostage.

        Thank you for pointing to Susan’s article. She did not say “liberal Jews don’t have the right to criticize or even offer advice to Palestinians.”

        She said “It seems that Israelis, especially those referred to as ‘leftists’ can’t help but to lecture Palestinians. The kind of paternalistic finger wagging the director…”

        She did not say Jews, or even Israelis cannot criticize or give advice to Palestinians. In particular she objected to how the director ended the film by exposing that Palestinians have not made a campaign to get their books back.

        It sounds from you like they are actually trying to get the books back, and the director’s criticism of Palestinians was incorrect.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 5:03 pm

        She makes a… claim… that Jewish authors, could not author fictional works criticizing events in Israel or Palestine… Her article included a subheading: “A stolen narrative”. ~ Hos.

        She did not say that (they could not write fiction)… The “Stolen Narrative” section describes how The Help’s author took the story from her family’s servant without her permission. ~W.J.

        the “stolen narrative” anecdote is presumably introduced because it is pertinent to the article. ~Hos.

        Right, it is relevant because she believes that the book claims to be from her people’s viewpoint and that it fails to do so, like “The Help.”

        None of that means Jewish authors cannot write fiction criticizing “abuses in connection with historical events… in either Palestine or Israel”.
        That would not make sense.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 5:34 pm

        Thank you for pointing to Susan’s article. She did not say “liberal Jews don’t have the right to criticize or even offer advice to Palestinians.”

        She most most definitely did question his right to offer criticism and took exception when he defended that right:

        It seems that Israelis, especially those referred to as “leftists” can’t help but to lecture Palestinians. The kind of paternalistic finger wagging the director was doing seemed so natural. Even when I questioned him about it, he was indignant and self-assured in his right to criticize.

        I reminded him that they – yes, he is part of the “they” – have taken everything from us and with what gall, with what right, did he think he could wag his finger at us when heroes like Samer Issawi are dying of hunger in their prisons.

        He didn’t get it. And few in the audience understood my perspective. What an angry, ungrateful Palestinian I was being! This Israeli was on our side and here I was jumping all over the poor guy. Even the Palestinian young woman who organized the event stood up to defend Mr Brunner. I asked her sit down if she was going to try to squash this discussion because he, the director, should be able to answer uncomfortable questions.

        Mr Brunner defended his position and said he did indeed have a right to criticize Palestinians.

        It sounds from you like they are actually trying to get the books back, and the director’s criticism of Palestinians was incorrect.

        I said no such thing. I pointed out that the government of Palestine and Jordan had filed legal claims against the Dead Sea Scrolls, not these books that Susan is talking about.

        I also noted that Israel constantly appeals to international law and local laws that require other states to restore cultural items and art to owners. So, it’s important that it been seen to be taking appropriate reciprocal action when claims are made to restore items, like these books, to their rightful owners.

      • agatharchides
        December 2, 2013, 6:24 pm

        Tbh, as Abulhawa has spend all of about 2-3 years of her life in Palestine as per her wiki article, I don’t really see how she has any more ability to speak for a person living in Israel under martial law in 1950’s Israel than Corasanti. Neither person has direct personal experience with it, and as far as I am concerned, both have the right to write about it.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 6:40 pm

        agatharchides,

        Thanks for your work.

        Tbh, as Abulhawa has spend all of about 2-3 years of her life in Palestine as per her wiki article, I don’t really see how she has any more ability to speak for a person living in Israel under martial law in 1950′s Israel than Corasanti.

        A person of nationality X in national conflict Y has a better ability to speak for another person of nationality X.
        That betterness is not absolute of course, but it’s a factor to consider.

        Regards.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 7:49 pm

        Right, it is relevant because she believes that the book claims to be from her people’s viewpoint and that it fails to do so, like “The Help.”

        I’m sorry, but the “stolen narrative”meme is already deployed in the second paragraph here and it’s an agenda item in the previous headline of Susan’s other article here at Mondo about the documentary on the stolen books.

        She most definitely did question the right of liberal Jewish allies there to offer any advice or criticism and complains that Corasanti’s book is a blight on her universe, so enormous, that it mutes already marginalised voices, misappropriates the Palestinian narrative, and somehow strips them of their agency. Your arguments to the contrary ain’t cuttin the mustard.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 8:09 pm

        Dear Hostage,

        Abilene believes that a member of her past employer’s white family “stole her narrative”. But she does not believe that white people should not write fiction criticizing evens in Palestine or Israel, like you said.

        Likewise, it would be a misrepresentation of her views as well as those of Abulhawa to say that they do not wish whites or Jews to write fiction about Israel/Palestine or offer helpful advice or criticism.

        She did however disagree with Brunner’s criticism of Palestinians, noting how indignant he was in asserting his right to make the criticism that she opposed.

      • Keith
        December 2, 2013, 8:16 pm

        HOSTAGE- “Susan has two articles here at Mondoweiss and the other one says that liberal Jews don’t have the right to criticize or even offer advice to Palestinians.”

        My, what an interesting distortion of what Susan Abulhawa actually did say. She complained about being LECTURED TO by an Israeli about what the Palestinians SHOULD DO in order to discharge THEIR OBLIGATION to rectify one of the many injustices suffered during the Nakba. This, in spite of the ongoing injustice and failure to correct any of the past crimes. Hardly a rejection of criticism in general, more like a criticism of the director’s attitude on this one issue in a film she generally praised.

        I agree with her. The article you linked was beautifully written and made the valid point that part of the Nakba and ongoing dispossession of the Palestinians involves the erasure of the Palestinian culture and narrative, and the substitution of a Jewish narrative, including a Jewish version of the Palestinian narrative. This is a common phenomenon in racist societies. That is why her quote is so telling: “I’m a black man. You know how many do-gooder white people have tried to lecture me on everything wrong in the Black community and what we need to do to fix it?”

        That is the whole point. The people who benefit from racism rarely think of themselves as racist or acknowledge the role of racism in their relative power and privilege. I recently read an article by a black intellectual (I think it was Cornel West) which I can’t locate in which he complains that he was consulted by several white authors concerning their commissioned books about Richard Pryor, but that he who knew Pryor was unable to generate interest in his book about Pryor. Ishmael Reed tells a similar tale about white authors telling black stories. And most of us whites can’t even conceive of this as a problem. Can’t conceive that a non-white person might validly interpret reality different from us. Liberal Ashkenazi can’t conceive of themselves as biased and Judeocentric, the suggestion itself deemed anti-Semitic. And Michelle Cohen Corasanti says: “I didn’t need a Palestinian editor because I lived among the Palestinians inside the green line for seven years and saw with my own eyes the Palestinian reality.” And who better to interpret Palestinian reality than a Jew? What arrogance. What blindness. Had she written from the perspective of a liberal Ashkenazi woman who lived in Palestine for seven years, that would have been fine, more honest. But to write from the perspective of a Palestinian seems to me an attempt to commandeer and profit from the Palestinian experience at the expense of the more authentic narrative.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 8:45 pm

        A person of nationality X in national conflict Y has a better ability to speak for another person of nationality X.

        We are only talking about a fictional account involving the conflict between the inhabitants of Israel set in the 50s.

        I would hazard a guess that over the years more people read Mark Twain’s subversive stories about Huck Finn and Nigger Jim and the protagonist’s eventual rejection of racism and violence than the number of people who have ever read the works of Frederick Douglass. But no one ever argued that you couldn’t simply read both. I suppose you could complain that Twain had marginalized voices, stolen narratives, stripped blacks of their agency, and caricatured their humanity, but Fredrick Douglass never did. He actually attended public readings of Huck Finn and enjoyed it.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 9:16 pm

        Regarding my claim that:
        A person of nationality X in national conflict Y has a better ability to speak for another person of nationality X.

        Certainly Frederick Douglas has a better ability to speak for the perspective of a black character than Mark Twain, although Twain may be a much better author.

        Twain did not write Huck Finn from the perspective of a black man, but a white boy. Also, Vacy’s and Susan’s criticism about the lighter skinned hero being an economic success would be like Twain portraying the economic success of a black character in southern society. That would be less believable than the success of the hero in the Almond Tree, but the message of upholding personal success in the victor’s society would be the same. There is something to be said about Twain’s romantic or sympathetic portrayal of a down to earth black man that contrasts with the path of success in the Almond Tree. I don’t want to bash the book too much because she gives a somewhat sympathetic portrayal, but the criticisms are real as well.

      • Taxi
        December 3, 2013, 12:49 am

        You’re thought-policing the victim, Hostage. Everyone has the right to question whatever doesn’t sit well with them – just like you’re doing plenty of tonight.

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 6:17 am

        My, what an interesting distortion of what Susan Abulhawa actually did say.

        I’ve taken the trouble to blockquote what she actually had to say twice now.

        She complained about being LECTURED TO by an Israeli about what the Palestinians SHOULD DO in order to discharge THEIR OBLIGATION to rectify one of the many injustices suffered during the Nakba.

        No, she even told other Palestinians who were willing to listen to that advice to shut-up. See Politics in Palestine: Arab factionalism and social disintegration, 1939-1948, By Issa Khalaf, University of New York Press, 1991

        Wake me up when Susan wins an election to represent the any of the people who owned the books in question. Until that happens I’d question the source of her entitlement and that giant chip on her shoulder. Corasanti isn’t even using her book to ram a solution or a formula for peace down Abulhawa’s throat.

        In the meantime, some of us get tired of listening to unelected jerks who make a living delivering hateful lectures to everyone else about their special Zionist or Palestinian credentials and entitlements. Those are the things that have kept this conflict going for a hundred years.

        This, in spite of the ongoing injustice and failure to correct any of the past crimes.

        Nothing Abulhawa did will end the injustice for the actual book owners and she provides no indication that she bothered to consult anyone’s wishes in that connection.

        While we are on the subject of ending injustice, how many times have I pointed out here at Mondoweiss that only States can argue cases in the ICJ and ICC? How many times have I pointed out that many Palestinian Solidarity leaders make their living on lecture and book tours delivering broken-record messages about the applicable international law, while nonetheless rejecting and opposing the UN statehood bid that could help end injustice in the Occupied territories? How many times have I pointed out that there is a minority rights treaty that the Palestinians could get the General Assembly to enforce today, and taking Israel to the ICJ over the constitutional issue of equality and the refugees Right of Return? The advisor on international law to the Arab Higher Committee during the UNSCOP hearings noted that Israel had even waived its rights under Article 2 of the Charter to assert exclusive domestic jurisdiction in the future. See The Palestine Question, Henry Cattan, page 86-87. Why do you suppose we never hear about that from the Palestinian leaders today who have signed the One State manifesto and go on so much about RoR? Some of us here aren’t stupid. These people don’t really live in Palestine and couldn’t do a better job of prolonging the on-going injustice there if they were on Sheldon Adelson’s payroll. I wouldn’t give them the time of day, much less any advice.

        That is the whole point. The people who benefit from racism rarely think of themselves as racist or acknowledge the role of racism in their relative power and privilege.

        Oh for God’s sake listen to yourself. You are acting like Corasanti’s book has overcrowded the universe and pushed someone else’s book off the shelves and that a popular work of fiction that enthusiastically promotes the idea of peace between Israelis and Palestinians and the concept of human equality is overtly racist and that we need to frop what we are doing, circle the wagons, and attack it.

        And Michelle Cohen Corasanti says: “I didn’t need a Palestinian editor because I lived among the Palestinians inside the green line for seven years and saw with my own eyes the Palestinian reality.” And who better to interpret Palestinian reality than a Jew? What arrogance. What blindness.

        I’m sorry but the fact that Mark Twain didn’t consult a black editor to describe the things he’d seen all of his life in works of fiction doesn’t make him a racist. In fact, only a hopelessly racist person would claim that another human being needs to consult the members of a particular ethnic group in order to write about them or provide an account of the things the author has witnessed first hand in the form of an entertaining fictional story with a universal message. Corasanti is not negotiating a solution or acting on anyone else’s behalf by simply populating her own books with fictional Israeli protagonists and antagonists.

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 6:53 am

        You’re thought-policing the victim, Hostage. Everyone has the right to question whatever doesn’t sit well with them – just like you’re doing plenty of tonight.

        I’m not thought policing the victim. I could care less if a Palestinian born in Kuwait in 1970, who lives in the United States today, makes her living writing fictional books or period pieces with Jewish characters, like Ari Perlstein. Everyone has a right to pursue an occupation and to hold their own opinions and to express them freely. I’m just asking why it’s okay for some to do that, but not for Corasanti. I think it’s pretty obvious who is really trying to play thought police in this situation.

      • W.Jones
        December 3, 2013, 11:47 am

        I’m sorry, but the “stolen narrative”meme is an agenda item in the previous headline of Susan’s other article here at Mondo about the documentary on the stolen books. ~Hos.

        In that particular essay Abulhawa wrote:

        Mr Brunner defended his position and… said the books were part of his history, too. I disagreed. The legacy of theft was all, and is all, he can claim of those books.

        Perhaps you might agree with Abulhawa that outside the theft, others cannot claim the Palestinian books themselves as their story?

      • Keith
        December 3, 2013, 1:51 pm

        HOSTAGE- “Oh for God’s sake listen to yourself. You are acting like Corasanti’s book has overcrowded the universe and pushed someone else’s book off the shelves….” (Hostage)

        You have willfully missed the entire point. Susan Abulhawa’s critique of Corasanti’s book provided a point of departure with which to critique the overall doctrinal system in which it is quite predictable that a book from the “Palestinian perspective” would have to be written by a Jew to be successful. What do you think my reference to Cornel West and Ishmael Reed were intended to show? Those at the bottom generally silenced, “their” voices interpreted by white liberals at the top.

        “No, she even told other Palestinians who were willing to listen to that advice to shut-up.” (Hostage)

        Yet another willful distortion. What she actually said was: “I asked her sit down if she was going to try to squash this discussion because he, the director, should be able to answer uncomfortable questions.” Not an unreasonable request if the goal is to have an honest discussion. Or is she not entitled?

        “Taxi I’m in a foul mood because Susan is using Mondoweiss to spread hate and discontent over the use of idealized fictional characters in works of popular fiction, when she deals in the same stock and trade herself.” (Hostage)

        Once again, an outrageous distortion of what Susan actually said and a telling overreaction on your part. You seem unduly disturbed that Mondoweiss would provide the means for Susan to critique a doctrinal system of orientalism writ large, where she and other minorities have their narratives interpreted for them by the elite intelligentsia. Better than nothing, I suppose, but that isn’t the point is it? Yet, it angers you mightily. Feeling threatened perhaps?

        Commenter Rich B said: “As was stated in the review we need to avoid the White Savior Complex. Michelle’s response screams white privilege.” That, to me, is the point. Not that Corasanti’s book may not have merit, but that the system strongly favors her perspective over more authentic ones which may tell a different tale than this privileged Ivy Leaguer.

      • LeaNder
        December 4, 2013, 4:28 am

        So the Jewish documentary director was offering good advice when he pointed out that it is important to file a formal claim regarding the stolen books.

        Hostage, first of all you made me read the book discussed here. I started it yesterday, and I already discovered matters that felt to me like the “subtexts” Susan alludes to below. No wonder considering I was a Hasbara for the most part of my life. I recognize the core narratives that surface in the text more or less too.

        “Most of all, it doesn’t give them a right to express their endless subtext of ineffectual Palestinian efforts. We know our weaknesses and we know our (official) leaders have fallen short of leadership.”

        I can understand your response to the “they” versus “us” part of the narrative. I also can sympathize with both sides in this context. For the filmmaker it is obviously a bad experience, isn’t that exactly what the people in his own group keep telling him, there cannot ever be a “normalization” with “them”. … On the other hand I can understand Susan’s sensibilities on the issue. Letting his mind wander to scenarios what could happen with the books, that interestingly enough his suggestion what should happened to the ones that still exist (I understand) is a mirror image of what happened to them in Israel. Thus while he obviously responds to being categorized as one of them on of the “other” negatively, in his suggested vision he somewhat “collectivizes” their possessions.

        I also think there are limits to the extend a “white” writer can create a “round character” in a “brown” or “black” or “native” experience or setting. The subtleties will be missing. I read a Native Canadian forum for almost a year, it was highly interesting, since what I learned thing there I could have never made up with my imagination. It was a really diverse crowd from the different tribes.

        I would be very interested to read reactions by Israeli Palestinians to Michelle’s book that still have the memories of the sixties. But I haven’t moved beyond the first chapter yet.

      • LeaNder
        December 4, 2013, 4:49 am

        I’m just asking why it’s okay for some to do that, but not for Corasanti. I think it’s pretty obvious who is really trying to play thought police in this situation.

        Henry Miller once wrote: The author talks to the author the rest is dishwater. He also wrote a wonderful series of critiques of other writers. You may consider her critique too harsh, but she has a right to criticize another author? No? And you don’t need to accept it.

        I could imagine that while she, I didn’t know, grew up in Kuwait and now lives in the US that she is nevertheless very familiar with the story of her parents and family lore surrounding the events. All Palestinians are, just as we are aware of our parents stories. And she is aware of feelings and subtleties, the outside observer may not be to that extend.

        She cannot harm Michelle’s book in any way. It is already in the process of being translated into quite a few languages.

        I will read Susan’s book too after I finished Michelle’s. I haven’t done yet. I will pay close attention to the portrayal of Ari, since this is core argument: She criticizes exactly what she does herself.

        For whatever reason, I didn’t read Susan’s critique as suggesting she is not allowed to write a story about a Palestinian Wunderkind and genius, she definitively is. How I understood her, is that she cannot write an authentic tale, and I will look at this argument in context, to the extend I can judge it.

      • W.Jones
        December 4, 2013, 10:54 am

        Hi LeaNder,

        It was interesting reading that you now realize you were a Hasbara person. It must be a relief, in another way, that you now realize this, because you have come a long way, made a long journey. Congratulations.

        I am not sure that Abulhawa thought it would be impossible for Corsanti to write an authentic tale, but it seemed to me under those circumstances she thought it would not be done. Abulhawa felt she could not write an authentic tale herself about blacks- but maybe she did not mean that she could not under any circumstances. Maybe she could research them more or collaborate closer with them.

        I happen to be part Irish, but it is not a major part of my upbringing or something, at least as far as I know! Could a person of Swedish descent write about my own grandparents’ famine as much as I? I think so. Could a British person who was Anglican and lived as a victor in Ireland? I think it would be harder, but I think it could be done too depending on the circumstances.

        This brings up an interesting point, Leander. If one was to write from an Irish family’s perspective, would you want to make it equal and balanced? I think not, because their perspective would not be balanced. But I think the author did try to write a balanced novel. In her book, the bulldozer incident was an accident, as was the fact that wind blew the white phosphorous into the civilian areas.

        So I think that the author really tried to make a novel that could be read by both sides and would not push sensibilities too far, and be able to reach that audience as some people here pointed out. But in fact, to be an authentic account of the people’s perspective, wouldn’t you say that it would have to be unequal and unbalanced? Perhaps push sensibilities of the State’s supporters too far?

        In other words, while the novel has value, is sympathetic, reaches audiences, it also did not meet a goal of being authentic, either because of the author’s own standpoint or because of a goal of balancing things through the novel.

      • LeaNder
        December 4, 2013, 5:17 pm

        thanks for the response W.Jones. It is not a recent revelation that I was “a Hasbara” for most of my life. But yes, I was too deeply buried in the Holocaust mentally to be able to open up to the Palestinians experience. … I realized this only slowly over the last two decades. Suddenly I remembered odd comments by friends that stuck on my mind, since they had puzzled me at the time. Why does s/he say that. Not that I wanted to know too much about what was beneath it, apparently, over here in Germany they have a good grasp why that may be. Later friends told me, they felt I couldn’t handle their tales so they stopped talking about it. I remembered it differently, to me it felt they didn’t want to talk about it if they suddenly stopped. Maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle, I needed time to be able to open up to it. … But it was a slow process taking two decades by now, and it is still unfinished, I doubt it ever will be.

        In other words, while the novel has value, is sympathetic, reaches audiences

        Concerning the reaching a larger audience, no doubt that is already happening. They better question is, will it have the result Michelle assumes? If I was still a student of literature, I would use both books, first analyze them closely and then look for psychological support for an empirical study measuring the real impact, since I seriously doubt that it works as easily as Michelle suggests. But I would be curious, if it does. Or if in fact what makes it bad literature for me so far, does make it effective as she intends.

        “Sympathetic”, I am not sure. Sweet, fairytale like, a staccato language rushing along as if to check off items on a list of event in the first chapter. I cannot feel the love for language of the writer, a feeling for rhythm, the flow of words.

      • W.Jones
        December 4, 2013, 7:10 pm

        Dear LeaNder,

        It is nice writing with you. It is also nice sharing these kinds of stories because they are a kind of “opening up” of the mind and heart.

        Later friends told me, they felt I couldn’t handle their tales so they stopped talking about it. I remembered it differently, to me it felt they didn’t want to talk about it if they suddenly stopped.

        That is funny- you are both right then. They felt you couldn’t handle it, therefore they didn’t want to talk about it and they stopped talking.

        But you are right now to look back at it and it must be interesting now with an open mind. You can ask yourself why they stopped so suddenly. What would it be that would cause them to be sudden?

        Regarding the process, it is one of breaking down barriers. When you are able to feel a spiritual unity then the barrier is broken down. There are different ways to achieve this.

        As for my own experience I knew little for most of my life, just accepting whatever the media said. I figured Israel was democracy and the Old testament, so that must mean they are basically good. Plus, Muslims were terraists. However my impression was that they were both wrong and fighting a kind of civil war, probably being roughly equal in power. It was later when I heard a talk by Christian charity workers that I thought differently.

        In a previous post you asked where people’s criticisms of Chomsky might come from, and what their motivation might be. Were you able to get my reply about it?

        Your criticism of her book is deep. Someone said it sounded like her writing style is like that of a writing seminarist.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 9:39 pm

        Henry Miller once wrote: The author talks to the author the rest is dishwater.

        Well this author was breaking the fourth wall and talking to the audience at Mondoweiss:

        This is particularly apparent when white privilege narrates marginalised lives without navigating ethical considerations inherent to the task of representing historic wounds and enduring struggles of another people.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 9:50 pm

        Abilene believes that a member of her past employer’s white family “stole her narrative”. But she does not believe that white people should not write fiction criticizing evens in Palestine or Israel, like you said.

        I’ve been commenting about Susan’s anecdotal use of Abilene and the assertion that “Michelle Cohen-Corasanti’s debut novel, The Almond Tree, is yet another example.” I never said anything about Abilene’s beliefs about the authors of fictional works about Palestine or Israel and don’t know if she ever expressed any.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 10:18 pm

        Perhaps you might agree with Abulhawa that outside the theft, others cannot claim the Palestinian books themselves as their story?

        I think that some of the people who gathered up books from open houses were trying to save the books from being plundered or looting and that it was all for naught, because they ended-up in the hands of the plunderer in chief, the Custodian of Abandoned Property. Having said that, States of Jordan and Palestine cannot claim the Dead Sea Scrolls “as their story” either.

        So long as the books are available to the public without regard to race or national origin, which is the case, then I have no objection to treating them as national cultural objects. I would prefer to see them restored to the actual owners or disposed of along the lines of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act we have here in the USA, where an attempt is made to return objects to the surviving ethnic communities in question.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 10:42 pm

        Twain did not write Huck Finn from the perspective of a black man, but a white boy.

        He actually wrote dialog for conversations between the two. So Twain wrote from the perspective of the protagonist, the antogonist, and all of the other characters in the book.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 10:45 pm

        Susan Abulhawa’s critique of Corasanti’s book provided a point of departure with which to critique the overall doctrinal system in which it is quite predictable that a book from the “Palestinian perspective” would have to be written by a Jew to be successful.

        I believe that I’ve pointed out that Susan Abulhawa starts off with a false proposition and that she doesn’t exactly make an unblemished defense of it.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 10:56 pm

        In other words, while the novel has value, is sympathetic, reaches audiences, it also did not meet a goal of being authentic, either because of the author’s own standpoint or because of a goal of balancing things through the novel.

        It’s pretty obvious from your repetition of the false and distorted version of Nora’s death you obtained from third-party reviewers that you need to use a little more caution when you pontificate about the actual content of the book itself.

      • W.Jones
        December 4, 2013, 11:23 pm

        Let’s say a book was printed and purchased in 1830 by Palestinians, and then stolen in 1948? How is that book part of someone else’s “story,” outside of its legacy as a stolen object?

        The fact that in your view the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by the ancestors of either Israelis or Palestinians, do not count as part of a Palestinian story does not mean that books stolen from Palestinian homes were not.

        Regarding the Stolen Narrative Section, you used it to claim that it showed Susan does not agree with Jewish authors writing fiction to criticize events in Palestine. You followed up by saying:

        I’ve been commenting about Susan’s anecdotal use of Abilene and the assertion that “Michelle Cohen-Corasanti’s debut novel, The Almond Tree, is yet another example.” I never said anything about Abilene’s beliefs about the authors of fictional works about Palestine or Israel and don’t know if she ever expressed any.

        The fact that Susan saw Corsanti’s book as analogous to Michelle’s does not mean Susan thinks no Jewish writers should write fiction on the topic. Abilene didn’t take the view that no white writers should write fiction about blacks either.
        All this shows is that Susan objects to books that she sees as analogous to Abilene’s “stolen narrative”- where a book was written portraying another group’s perspective without consulting people of that group. In Susan’s case, the main issue appears to be that she believes her group’s views were not portrayed correctly in a book purporting to represent her group’s views.

        Had Michelle portrayed Susan’s group’s perspective in a way Susan liked, she would be more amenable to it, and as Dawud pointed out, Susan did in fact compliment non-Palestinians who wrote books about Palestinians.

      • Keith
        December 5, 2013, 12:38 am

        HOSTAGE- “So Twain wrote from the perspective of the protagonist, the antogonist, and all of the other characters in the book.”

        All of which are presented from the perspective of a white boy, a rather elementary distinction which you seem incapable of understanding. Nothing wrong with Susan Abulhawa giving dialogue to Jewish characters, which is totally different from her pretending to see things through their eyes. You have a conclusion which suits you and gather evidence to support your bias. You seem incapable of understanding why, for example, black people might not be thrilled with Al Jolson appearing in black face.

      • Keith
        December 5, 2013, 12:41 am

        HOSTAGE- “I believe that I’ve pointed out that Susan Abulhawa starts off with a false proposition and that she doesn’t exactly make an unblemished defense of it.”

        I fail to see how this relates to my comment other than you felt the need to reply yet had nothing substantive to say.

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 8:44 am

        All of which are presented from the perspective of a white boy, a rather elementary distinction which you seem incapable of understanding.

        Huck narrates, but doesn’t always provide an analysis of Jim’s side of their dialogs. That would become repetitious and boring. So, Twain’s character Jim does speak for himself without any interpretation from Huck – a fact I’m perfectly capable of pointing out.

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 9:27 am

        HOSTAGE- “I believe that I’ve pointed out that Susan Abulhawa starts off with a false proposition and that she doesn’t exactly make an unblemished defense of it.”

        I fail to see how this relates to my comment other than you felt the need to reply yet had nothing substantive to say.

        Because your proposition was equally false and used Abulhawa as a “point of departure with which to critique the overall doctrinal system in which it is quite predictable that a book from the “Palestinian perspective” would have to be written by a Jew to be successful.”

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 10:04 am

        The fact that in your view the Dead Sea Scrolls, written by the ancestors of either Israelis or Palestinians, do not count as part of a Palestinian story does not mean that books stolen from Palestinian homes were not.

        There is no evidence the Dead Sea Scrolls were written by the ancestors of either Israelis or Palestinians. For all anyone really knows, they could have been written by a sect of celebates.

        You are overlooking my point that these other books are available to the general public, which includes all of the Palestinian citizens or residents of Israel and East Jerusalem. Here’s a link to an article which explains that: Preserving or looting Palestinian books in Jerusalem: The National Library in Jerusalem houses more than 8,000 volumes in Arabic which once belonged to Palestinians who fled the country or were forced out in 1948. Were these books collected for the purpose of preservation – or looted? http://www.haaretz.com/weekend/week-s-end/preserving-or-looting-palestinian-books-in-jerusalem.premium-1.483352

    • W.Jones
      December 2, 2013, 2:13 am

      Agathar,

      Abulhawa did not complain about what she saw as positive.

    • richb
      December 2, 2013, 3:43 pm

      I’m in the exact same situation as you. As was stated in the review we need to avoid the White Savior Complex. Michelle’s response screams white privilege. Palestinians need her novel and they cannot speak for themselves effectively.Yeah, right. Here’s some helpful tips on being a good ally.

      http://whitepriv.blogspot.com/2010/02/10-ways-to-be-and-ally.html

      • agatharchides
        December 2, 2013, 6:14 pm

        Nobody ever said they can’t. But it doesn’t hurt to have more voices on your side, and attacking people who have spent a good chunk of their life advocating for your cause is rarely wise. Certainly none of the Palestinians I have met have ever objected to my efforts to defend their cause.

      • richb
        December 2, 2013, 9:15 pm

        You may not have said they can’t and I certainly haven’t but here is what Michelle said:

        Ask yourself, what is more powerful, one hundred books written by the victims of oppression describing occurrence after occurrence of loss, hardship and suffering or one book described as Kite Runner-esque and predicted to be one of the best sellers of the decade by an author perceived to be a member of the ruling, oppressor class that condemns the unjust, cruel oppression by the ruling class and extols the virtues and the legal and moral rights of the subjugated class?

        Yeah, Letters from the Birmingham Jail did nothing to advance the civil rights movement in this country. King also said this:

        The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.

        Just as Susan was wont to criticize African Americans I am hesitant to start giving unsolicited advise on what is best for Palestinians because in the end it’s not all about me.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 9:46 pm

        Yeah, Letters from the Birmingham Jail did nothing to advance the civil rights movement in this country.

        Corasanti didn’t write a book that gives Palestinians advice or that recommends that they be patient and wait for recognition of their worth or equal human rights, the complaint directed at crtics through King’s Letters from the Birmingham Jail.

        While we are on this subject, King was exactly the type of person that you guys are trying to make Corasanti out to be. MLK and the members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were ardent Christian Zionists. Stokely Carmichael and other leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee SNCC spoke out against White Supremacy and Zionism in the same context and accused Israel of committing atrocities against Arabs, e.g. See SNCC Draws Fire For Zionist Charge link to news.google.com
        The SNCC and other civil rights groups thought that Ashkenazi rule over the Arabs was simply another example of white minority rule over people of color.
        MLK labeled them “young militants” and anti-semites. He spoke about the necessity of security and territorial integrity for Israelis, but like Netanyahu, he claimed that Arabs only needed security on another, economic, level that would end their hunger, backwardness, and illiteracy. He repeated the usual hasbara talking points about transforming the desert into an oasis and called Israel a shining example of democracy and brotherhood.
        – See A testament of hope: the essential writings and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr, Harper Collins, 1991, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King (Jr.), James Melvin Washington, pages 670-671 link to books.google.com

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 10:04 pm

        King was exactly the type of person that you guys are trying to make Corasanti out to be.
        I am not sure what person we are making Corsanti out to be. I think that her book has positive and negative sides.

        Regarding King, I remember there was one letter he allegedly wrote extolling the State and its nationalism, however, after reading comments on MW about it and looking into it, it seems that one could have been invented, as Counterpunch was not able to trace the real origin for the letter, and claims about it were skippy- like where he delivered it, etc. I did read a different article about refugees emigrating from the USSR that was very in favor of the refugees, so I can guess that you are right. But unfortunately the book you pointed to did not have the pages available.

        I am not really sure what your point is of bringing this up, since you call what he is saying Hasbara? I suppose it is a way of letting us know that Hasbara can be taught by African American activists. But today things are quite different when it comes to the left, as opposed to the 1960’s. There has been major ground shifts that caused reevaluations. The experiences of 1967 put those of 1948 in a new light. The writings and attitudes of Isaac Deutscher provide one such case of looking at old things in a new way.

      • richb
        December 2, 2013, 10:06 pm

        I’m not saying that the arts shouldn’t be used to expose the injustices against the Palestinian people but rather as part of the oppressor class we should tread lightly. An example of solidarity between oppressed peoples and speaking of Dr. King see this documentary that we will be screening at Friends of Sabeel Colorado in January.

      • Abierno
        December 2, 2013, 10:43 pm

        It doesn’t take 100 books written by victims of oppression, one will do. Please reflect on the power of The Diary of Ann Frank, the authentic voice of a child caught in the horrors of nazi Germany and the holocaust. Susan is absolutely correct in her position. Would Michelle approve a similar narrative written by a German who felt themselves privileged to have an understanding because they too lived in Germany and Holland. Also a Harvard trained LA attorney has far more access to publishing houses than any. Palestinian author. And finally when authentic voices do speak, there is unrelenting approbation – think of the play “My name is Rachel Corrie” think of the extraordinary and intrepid Max Blumenthal who speaks in his own voice while honoring other authentic voices as well. The Almond Tree will never becomes the classic that Ann Frank has become nor the classic Goliath is well on its way to becoming.

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 7:05 am

        And finally when authentic voices do speak, there is unrelenting approbation – think of the play “My name is Rachel Corrie” think of the extraordinary and intrepid Max Blumenthal who speaks in his own voice while honoring other authentic voices as well. The Almond Tree will never becomes the classic that Ann Frank has become nor the classic Goliath is well on its way to becoming.

        I guess I’m missing your point. It’s unlikely that any of those will have the sales or impact of Huck Finn or Uncle Tom’s Log Cabin. I doubt that most experts in working the field of the humanities would agree with the proposition advance here that the authors were insensitive racists.

      • Abierno
        December 3, 2013, 5:39 pm

        First you miss the major theme of Huckleberry Finn -the importance of the human spirit and freedom from the disabling constraints of the stereotypic thinking conveyed by the civilization of the southern US at that time. The novel conveys these as attainable to those most oppressed by southern society -blacks, youth and the poor. The most powerfully and authentic writing in this unevenly written book are the river scenes, perhaps the most authentic voice of Twain. Hostage, these are themes that speak signifîcantly to the Israeli Palestine conflict, and which run through both Corrie and Goliath, which is why the will continue to grow into well studied classics. Such themes are in the tradition of Antigone and the Greek tradition, transcending and subsuming racism. Sorry, The Almond Tree, as Annie so aptly pointed out is at the level of the pandering to the popular as the Hunger Games, both books of no particular literary merit.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 3, 2013, 10:14 pm

        abierno, to clarify, i didn’t point out the almond tree ‘pandered to the popular’. there’s a difference between using a voice because ones intent is to pander vs using it because it’s the voice most natural to you. i also thought the book showed merit. there was a lot of very uncomfortable reality in that book from my ptv. i’d recommend hatim kanaaneh’s review. http://mondoweiss.net/2013/07/oslos-order-the-arab-needs-the-jew-to-get-ahead-in-the-world.html phil chose the title btw and it’s harsh.

        i’m curious if you’ve read the book, given your critique.

      • Kris
        December 4, 2013, 1:48 am

        Annie–Thank you for the link to Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh’s review of “The Almond Tree.” It’s a very insightful review, and the long comment in the comments section by Michelle Cohen Corasanti is fascinating.

      • Inanna
        December 4, 2013, 4:50 am

        Excellent points Abierno

      • Taxi
        December 4, 2013, 5:01 am

        annie,

        Any writer who sets out specifically to write a best seller (or Airport Literature as I like to call it) is often forced to compromise content for the sake of accessibility. I think this was Abierno’s point: based on your reference to the popular ‘Hunger Games’. Time and time again, we find that only books with high literary merits find longevity, therefore have a real ability to change a society. Airport literature has it’s place, but not in the halls of meritorious literature.

      • agatharchides
        December 4, 2013, 8:11 am

        I didn’t read a statement that Palestinians are incapable of writing in what you quote, I read a statement that sometime novels are more powerful in influencing people than pages of dry statistics. Letters from a Birmingham Jail and Uncle Tom’s Cabin are not mutually exclusive and surely it is better to have both than just one. Palestinians are able to advocate for themselves, but surely allies don’t hurt.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 10:17 am

        First you miss the major theme of Huckleberry Finn -the importance of the human spirit and freedom from the disabling constraints of the stereotypic thinking conveyed by the civilization of the southern US at that time.

        I wasn’t trying to write a review of Huck Finn, so you can save me the lecture about what you think I might have missed and your opinions about the uneven writing of Twain or the redeeming values of popular fiction.

        What I was trying to point out is that writers and publishers have a fundamental right to pursue their occupation. From my point of view, defaming someone else as being bigoted, racist or anti-Semite because you don’t like sentimentality and telling them that they need Palestinian or Jewish editorial permission before they can opine that Jews and Palestinians deserve peace and are human beings with equal value and worth, only makes you come across as the one who is prejudiced, acting as a gatekeeper, and who is actively prolonging injustice.

        Sorry, The Almond Tree, as Annie so aptly pointed out is at the level of the pandering to the popular as the Hunger Games, both books of no particular literary merit.

        Susan didn’t limit her critiques to literary merits – and The Help won plenty of book and movie awards on that basis in any event. There are plenty of people today who claim that Twain’s work’s have little or no value and have worked assiduously to remove them from school libraries.

        She complained that others employ racial stereotypes and fictional heroes that sell books. I think she did the same sort of thing with Hasan, who supposedly wasn’t as angry about his situation or with his Jewish friend Ari because he recognized and accepted the Holocaust as some sort of mitigating factor – which goes against the fictional character’s type and the common sense maxim that two wrongs don’t make a right. I don’t know of any Palestinians who actually think like that, and there is an official policy against that sort of “poisonous’ thinking regarding the Holocaust among officials and teachers in the Palestinian schools of Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria.

        Once again, writers and publishers have a fundamental right to pursue an occupation that merely entertains others with popular works, like The Hunger Games. Their rights don’t depend upon particular notions about literary merit and they deserve a return on their investment of time and money, without having to worry about being defamed as racists or bigots when they are only guilty of incorporating sentimental messages about universal human values.

      • W.Jones
        December 4, 2013, 12:04 pm

        Dear Hostage,

        In a previous message you suggested that empathy does not exist inside Palestinian society for Jews, and here you said Susan’s Palestinian character is unrealistic….

        Regarding empathy for Jews, the Kairos Document, which was authored by the leaders of the Christians of Palestine, notes:

        The West sought to make amends for what Jews had endured in the countries of Europe, but it made amends on our account and in our land. They tried to correct an injustice and the result was a new injustice.

        http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/other-ecumenical-bodies/kairos-palestine-document

        That is, even despite being victims themselves under occupation, some leading Palestinians, representing sections of society, do say in their official documents that Jews had undergone injustice.

      • Abierno
        December 4, 2013, 1:54 pm

        Sorry to be so slow in replying. I couldn’ make it past the first two chapters,
        the prose style was so poor, the violence so gratuitous, introduced prior to
        any development of characterization, and the plot stereotypic (my personal
        opinions, and I am not well versed in literary criticism). But let me apologize for inappropriately misinterpreting your comments. However, even with reading the first two chapters, the voice of the Almond Tree is
        not the authentic voice of a Palestinian experiencing these events, nor do
        I believe that it represents the author’s voice – I read it as artificial and
        in many ways superficial, again comparing the depth of the voices referenced in prior posts. Again, I apologize for misrepresenting

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 9:34 pm

        Time and time again, we find that only books with high literary merits find longevity

        But time and time again stories without high literary value that convey a simple moral value become enduring classics. I can attest that even secular Jews “get” the message conveyed by Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” or Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story” .

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 10:38 pm

        Regarding King, I remember there was one letter he allegedly wrote extolling the State and its nationalism, however, after reading comments on MW about it and looking into it, it seems that one could have been invented, as Counterpunch was not able to trace the real origin for the letter, and claims about it were skippy- like where he delivered it, etc.

        I gave you a citation to a verbatim interview published by the late Dr. King’s family. There can’t be a bit of doubt that it is fully authentic.

        He said that the Palestinians didn’t need the same assurances of security or territorial integrity required by the Jewish people in Israel. He claimed that Arabs only needed security on another, economic, level that would end their hunger, backwardness, and illiteracy. He credited the Jews with turning the desert into an oasis and said that Israel was a shining example of democracy and brotherhood.

        In short, he gave Palestinians the same advice that he himself had rejected on behalf of blacks in his Letters from the Birmingham Jail. If you are looking for an example of someone in a position of relative privilege vis-a-vis civil rights providing a false or orientalist narrative that marginalized Palestinian suffering, then Dr. King was a good example.

      • W.Jones
        December 4, 2013, 11:18 pm

        If you are looking for an example of someone in a position of relative privilege vis-a-vis civil rights providing a false or orientalist narrative that marginalized Palestinian suffering, then Dr. King was a good example.

        Lol. I think if he wrote a novel that he portrayed to be from the viewpoint of a Palestinian family it would not be very authentic. ;)

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 9:39 am

        In a previous message you suggested that empathy does not exist inside Palestinian society for Jews

        I said that there was no empathy of the sort displayed by the fictional character Hasan regarding the Holocaust.

        That is, even despite being victims themselves under occupation, some leading Palestinians, representing sections of society, do say in their official documents that Jews had undergone injustice.

        But even these saintly real life characters do not say that two wrongs make a right. They certainly don’t say that they are less angry about what happened at their expense, because Jews had suffered injustice elsewhere. In fact, that is the very bone of contention that they are complaining about. So they aren’t exactly mirroring the thinking of the fictional hero Hasan.

      • American
        December 5, 2013, 10:07 am

        In short, he gave Palestinians the same advice that he himself had rejected on behalf of blacks in his Letters from the Birmingham Jail. ”..Hostage

        Wonder how much money for the black civil rights cause he got from Jewish/Zionist sources.
        Money buys a lot of forked tongues.

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 1:19 pm

        Wonder how much money for the black civil rights cause he got from Jewish/Zionist sources.
        Money buys a lot of forked tongues.

        I dunno, King’s colleague, the Rev. Jessie Jackson, famously complained that Jews and Zionists were teaming-up to defeat him after his “Hymietown” remarks were published.

        In King’s case he was being interviewed by a Rabbi and it was a mutual back patting session. I think it was just an example of the typical religious views of many ordained Baptists. It isn’t uncommon for them to wholeheartedly embrace Zionism on their own ideological grounds.

  4. PeaceThroughJustice
    December 2, 2013, 1:30 am

    I expect we’ll find Ms. Corasanti on Terry Gross’s show soon. Sounds like the kind of book she just loves.

    (Lots about peace but not much about justice.)

  5. W.Jones
    December 2, 2013, 1:54 am

    “I’d like to thank Susan Abulhawa for taking notice of The Almond Tree”
    That’s nice.

    Uncle Tom’s Cabin. That book was written by a white woman in the voice of a black man
    OK.

    “Palestinians have been unfairly stereotyped”
    Ok…

    “She suggests that only Palestinians should write about the Palestinian narrative”
    Not quite, but I could see how you misread that…

    Ask yourself, what is more powerful, one hundred books written by the victims of oppression describing occurrence after occurrence of loss, hardship and suffering or one book described as Kite Runner-esque and predicted to be one of the best sellers of the decade by an author perceived to be a member of the ruling, oppressor class that condemns the unjust, cruel oppression by the ruling class and extols the virtues and the legal and moral rights of the subjugated class?

    I do not really like how you made that an either / or.
    Please continue.

    My book will be published over the next twelve months in ten languages.

    I am quite familiar with a wedding in a Palestinian village in the Galilee because _____ I actually had one.
    That’s very nice.

    “unlike Ms. Abulhawa”
    I do not think you are realizing what you saying.

    “In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe believed”
    So you based it on Uncle Tom’s cabin in writing it? That has value as a template.

    Professor Menachem Sharon starts off as
    Good justification for the name.

    Professor Menachem Sharon… recognizes Ichmad’s genius and changes… Harriet Beecher Stowe used Christianity as a bridge just like I used science.
    I would suggest you think deeper about this. In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Christianity is the inspiration to change. It is the heart and changer of the soul. Why should science or genius be what changes hearts?

    returned home and were blinded by the west until they realized the greatness of their culture.

    That is attractive as a writing tool.

    “Rachel Corrie style”

    At first he is blind to the greatness of his Palestinian wife and how well suited they are for each other
    That is a good explanation about his perception of her. I do appreciate your desire to help.

    “The Almond Tree $how$ how Ichmad is able to $ucceed within the framework of the oppre$$or$’ institution$”

    (Irrelevant sidenote: Why does the dollar have to use a Biblical symbol anyway? I digress.)

    “I am quite frankly astonished to read that Ms. Abulhawa views…”
    I am not, really. See her discussion about the movie “The Great Book Robbery”, where she takes the maker to task for ending the movie by blaming Palestinians, who do not have a sovereign country to their name, for failing to initiate a campaign to get their stolen books back.

    Are we not working to achieve the same goal?
    Should Ms. Abulhawa have the right to live in her homeland, Jerusalem?

    We should all wonder how she can believe that her attack on The Almond Tree somehow benefits the Palestinian people?
    She is part of the Palestinian people. So no, we should not wonder about whether her reaction to your book benefits her people. Her reaction should be valued, along with the reactions of other noteworthy Palestinian reviewers.

    I am sure you will have many more interesting experiences regarding the Holy Land, along with other positive and happy ones.

  6. Annie Robbins
    December 2, 2013, 2:31 am

    i read the book and to say i liked it is an understatement. it was a bit disconcerting at the beginning because of the style in which it was written. i recognized the style but until i was on about pg 40 couldn’t figure out what it reminded me of, which was definitely not the kite runner. it reminded me of the hunger games, a young adult novel. i usually don’t read young adult novels but they contain simplified moral lessons and the characters are condensed archetypes.

    i am not palestinian so i can’t speak from that perspective. but as far as having a book that young people can read, or people unfamiliar with the conflict, that is easy to read and can reach a vast (young) mainstream american audience i thought the book held potential for mass appeal.

    it’s not a literary masterpiece. corasanti is a storyteller and the almond tree is a fast entertaining read.

    as an aside i gave my copy to a 23 yr old friend who had given me the hunger games for christmas last year, she loves young adult novels. she’s completely non political, engages in drinking games, smokes lots of pot and is a dead head. never showed one ounce of interest in the conflict to the point of being adverse any time i brought it up. she loved the book and couldn’t put it down. she’s completely pro-palestinian now.

    • W.Jones
      December 2, 2013, 2:37 am

      good story, Annie.

    • pabelmont
      December 2, 2013, 10:42 am

      Annie,

      Thanks for this report. One criticism of “GOLIATH” is that it is predicted that it will turn people off. Any book like “The Almond Tree” that is enjoyable and not outright misleading is to the good, especially if it engages people. No book is perfect unless perhaps it is perfectly awful.

      GOLIATH might be called the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ZIONIST RACISM, persuasive if you read it, but perhaps a turn-off for many potential readers (and REVIEWERS). Who wants to read an encyclopedia anyhow? (I did, but I’m in the “choir”). I loved GOLIATH.

      If young people get turned on to the I/P problem in a helpful way by “The Almond Tree”, then all credit and thanks to Corasanti.

      On the other hand, various people suggest that much is wrong in “The Almond Tree”, and as I have not read it yet, perhaps peopkle will read Vacy’s comment below.

      • Annie Robbins
        December 2, 2013, 11:51 am

        the “hidden agenda of the oppressor’s hasbara” comment? yes i read that. but i didn’t understand the “condemning to darkness with the label of ‘terrorist’”. maybe because i completely empathized with the suicide bomber, which undoubtedly was the intention of the author.

        and ‘enjoyable’ might not be the best description. the israelis blow up two of his sisters, cripple his brother, imprison his father, demolish the home several times..all in the first 100 pages.

  7. Peter in SF
    December 2, 2013, 2:46 am

    I am curious as to whether the author has been back in touch with her real-life inspiration for the character of Ichmad since she started writing this book. Her author biography page gives enough clues about him that match the CV of an eminent scientist who is now living in the United States. I don’t want to violate his privacy, but if the book does become “one of the best sellers of the decade”, as the author hopes, this man will certainly become something of a Palestinian-American celebrity, whether he’s prepared for it or not.

    • adele
      December 2, 2013, 6:07 am

      Peter,
      thanks to your link, I just read through the author’s bio, an excruciatingly long, rambling, and disjointed bio but it is pure gold, and a must read.

      I honestly don’t know where to begin with regards to the contents/context/framing as presented in the author’s bio, but it must be read for it truly sheds light on the mindset of the author. Here are some highlights (in chronological order):

      – [Leaves Utica, NY at 16 to go to an Israeli boarding school in central Israel – 1982] As it turned out, Michelle’s socializing helped advance her Hebrew more than the flash cards [her friend] Miriam was constantly reviewing in their room.

      – [Israel] When Michelle graduated from high school [in Israel], she enrolled in the preparatory program at the Rothberg International School to improve her Hebrew in order to attend the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her boyfriend [a Kahanist, per the author] was unhappy. “There are too many Arab Israelis in Jerusalem.”

      – Michelle’s parents, in an attempt to break-up her relationship with the Kahanist, sent her to Paris for the summer to study French. There she met a girl from Beverly Hills and they spent most of their nights in exclusive clubs filled with rich, educated Lebanese men. Those were the first Arabs Michelle had ever met. They had quite a different version of Israel than the one she had learned. With her eyes opened, Michelle returned to Israel.

      – [Hebrew University] After she dropped the Kahanist, Michelle enrolled in the Middle Eastern studies program at the Hebrew University. She was the only American in her department. The rest of the students were Israeli Jews and “Arab Israelis.” After her experience in Paris, Michelle befriended the latter, but they were nothing like the elite Lebanese she had met. They were poor, second-class citizens and Michelle had to hide her friendship with them out of fear she might be failed-out. At the start, Michelle was the only one in the department who didn’t know who Mohammad [presumably referencing the Prophet] was. As she soon learned, both the “Arab Israelis” and Michelle had no knowledge of the version of Islam and Middle Eastern History that was being taught at her department. [from not knowing who the Prophet was to now being able to distinguish a distorted “version of Islam”]

      – [1987] The last year Michelle was there, the intifada broke out. Things went from horrible to unbearable. Something needed to be done and Michelle was determined to help bring it about. Michelle returned to the United States to pursue her master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard. She was determined to devote herself to achieving a just peace in the Middle East and defending the oppressed. She devoted her every breath to that goal.

      – [Meets Hasan, Palestinian-Israeli, in the US] Due to circumstances, Hasan was only able to attend school on occasion. But because he was brilliant in math and science, he didn’t need more. He eventually won a scholarship to the university. There, the Israelis recognized his genius and embraced him. He grew up in a mud brick one room house. They didn’t get electricity until he left for college. Michelle was going to make up for everything he had suffered.
      Since Michelle spoke to him in Arabic, she hadn’t realized that his English was practically non-existent and so Michelle had to spend many evenings translating and listening to his lectures in Chemical Physics.

      – Michelle decided to do an internship her last semester in law school with her father’s law firm in her hometown. There, she met her husband who had recently returned home from Los Angeles and never looked back. She had wanted to save the Palestinians and in the end she only saved herself.

      – For twenty years, Michelle successfully buried her past and pretended it never happened until she started reading Khaleed Hosseni’s book, The Kite Runner. She was lying on a lounge chair, by the pool, at the Setai hotel, in South Beach, sipping a cosmopolitan. She was on vacation with her husband and twins. She didn’t have a care in the world until Amir, the protagonist, said that the past can’t be buried, that it finds the means to claw its way out. And like Amir, Michelle’s past found a way to call her. And there she was face-to-face with her worst nightmares and her greatest failures. One might say a defining moment. And Michelle decided, that she wanted her children to know, that she had seen injustice and that she would try to do something about it. And so Michelle wrote the story that had been inside of her for so long.
      The Kite Runner forced Michelle to deal with her past, but it also gave her a way to be good again. She realized that when she read the passage about how history and religion weren’t easy to overcome and in the end Amir was a Pashtun and Hasan a Hazara— she knew she was finally ready to tell the story that had been inside her for twenty years. She would show how such obstacles between Israelis and Palestinians could be transcended for she had seen it with her own eyes.
      For five years, while her friends shopped, Michelle slaved over this novel because she had found a different way to achieve her dream.

      And the best for last:
      The Almond Tree is fiction and the characters are straight from Michelle’s imagination, but it has a sound and accurate base in reality.

      Michelle’s motto is “May the battles we fight be for the advancement of the human race.”

  8. Cliff
    December 2, 2013, 3:28 am

    @Phil/Annie/Adam/Whoever

    I really don’t understand why you continue to allow sock-puppet accounts of banned commentators to run amok. (proudzionist6 or w/e his name was is Obsidian)

    @pz

    You are no different from anti-Black racists who say there is no racism in America or mockingly refer to such racism, then cite ‘Black on Black’ violence.

    Or that such violence is underreported in favor of ‘White on Black’ violence.

    You are no different from White Supremacists.

    That is what Zionism is a form of anyway – White Supremacy. With the same racial hierarchy within Zionism and Judaism itself (‘White’ Jews and then ‘everyone else’).

    Disgusting. And to think, you’re a parent and a grandfather aren’t you? Are you children and children’s children as vile as you are?

  9. Peter in SF
    December 2, 2013, 3:34 am

    Inside joke for MW readers: I wonder if the physics professor Menachem Sharon is based on our commenter fnlevit.
    But seriously, fnlevit, if you’re reading this, have you ever had a research assistant, or even a student, who was a Palestinian (or “Arab-Israeli” if you prefer)?

    • Danaa
      December 2, 2013, 2:54 pm

      fnlevit is as much of a Physicist as I am an Astronaut on the space station – right now. In other words, if wishes were horses…..

      • MahaneYehude1
        December 2, 2013, 3:37 pm

        Danaa;

        Again, I wonder what is the purpose of such comment? It is not the first time that you write here comments that aimed to discredit people arguments. I don’t understand why such ugly comments are published here.

      • Peter in SF
        December 2, 2013, 8:10 pm

        Danaa, you are making a serious charge that fnlevit is violating the comment policy by impersonating someone.
        http://www.weizmann.ac.il/physics/staff/levit.htm

    • MahaneYehude1
      December 2, 2013, 3:50 pm

      @Peter in SF:

      I am not fnlevit but, please, allow me to copy a former comment I wrote her several months ago that is relevant to your questions:

      “I am ready to put my money for the following assumptions: The next Israeli Noble Prize winner in physiology in the next decade will be an Israeli Palestinian scientist. I also will risk my money and say that probably it will be Dr. Yakoob Hanna, the leading Israeli Palestinian scientist in stem cell biology, one of the most important fields in the new biology and medical therapeutic. But, not only science – in most fields in Israel the new generation of Arab Jews, new immigrants and Palestinians already takes place. Don’t be surprised if one day Israel will announce a Palestinian as a president of the Hebrew university as well as don’t be surprised to know that several components of the computer you are using now to read my comment were developed by Israeli Palestinians computer engineers.”

  10. Taxi
    December 2, 2013, 3:45 am

    BREAKING NEWS

    Gaza fishermen right now, with several Internationals, are gathered in many small fishing boats, ready to steam out to sea to break the israeli naval blockade. Only AlMayadeen TV is broadcasting live – here’s the link (only in Arabic, but at least you get to see the live footage):
    http://www.almayadeen.net/

    Click on the top small video box, to the left of page.

    p.s. google ‘Gaza fishermen’ and weep at the numerous times that Palestinian fishermen have been attacked by israeli navy – the frequency is particularly disturbing.

    • Walid
      December 2, 2013, 3:17 pm

      Taxi, the gathering of 20 small boats declared their attempt at breaking the blockade from within Gaza a success. The flotilla sailing from Gaza City reached the 6 nautical miles limit (11 km) without any impediment by the Israeli forces, turned and headed back to port without any incident. Agence France-Presse was told by an IDF spokesperson that tyhe flotilla did not reach the 6 nautical mile limit. The IDF’s ceasefire agreement with Hamas of Nov 21, 2012 consented to allow the Gaza fihermen to go out to the 6 nautical miles limit but between March 21st and May21st of 2012, the ISF reneged on the agreement and started firing warning shots at boats nearing the 3 nautical miles limit.

      http://www.lapresse.ca/international/moyen-orient/201312/02/01-4716804-une-flottille-aurait-brise-le-blocus-maritime-de-gaza.php

      • Taxi
        December 2, 2013, 4:26 pm

        Thanks, Walid. Interesting.

  11. Vacy
    December 2, 2013, 3:54 am

    This is not a response to Susan Abulhawa’s exacting review but a sales pitch by Cohen-Corasanti for her disinformative book, and for herself, and it does not erase the fundamental thrust of her novel, that collaboration with a brutal enemy and betrayal of one’s oppressed people pays off.

    She trivialises the real and daily Palestinian suffering by shining a romantic light on collaboration and the normalisation of the Israeli occupation while condemning to darkness with the label of ‘terrorist’,  the heroic and desperate Palestinian resistance, represented by Ichmad’s brother, Abbas, against Israel’s state sponsored terrorism.

    For all her self-proclaimed sensitivity to Palestinians and their suffering under Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity, Cohen -Corasanti just doesn’t get it as conspicuously substantiated by this one nonchalant repugnant phrase about the death of her Jewish heroine

    – “killed Rachel Corrie style.”

    Style? – the horrific crushing to death of a caring, brave idealistic young woman by a Caterpillar D9R Israeli military bulldozer driver!

    Seems Cohen-Coasanti lived 7 years too long in Israel having picked up the Israeli habit of theft -in her case from the Palestinian narrative. The Wedding in Galilee was sexed up, including the nontraditional sword/veil scene, by  Michel Kleifi, Not Marcel Khelifi??? She uses his film to refute Abulhawa but can’t even get his name right. 

    Furthermore, were she genuine about her concern for Palestinian oppression, she would have  known better than to  mention 5 times  the Hebrew University which is integral to the Israeli military and arms industry. Michael Federmann, Chairman of Elbit Systems ( largest privately owned armament maker) is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors of Hebrew University. Elbit is “one of two main providers of the electronic detection fence” in the West Bank, deemed to violate international law by the International Court of Justice. All Israeli military colleges and training facilities are under the academic auspices and responsibility of the Hebrew University.

    And “In terms of BW [biological warfare] research, development, and deployment, Israel maintains reticence and ambiguity about its activities and capabilities. several other institutions, including Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, and Technion also publish select agent research.”(James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies) 

    I agree with Abulhawa that “wounds are a sacred place for a people with unredeemed history and injustice” and must not be defiled by the hidden agenda of the oppressor’s hasbara.

    • Taxi
      December 2, 2013, 4:09 am

      “killed Rachel Corrie style.”

      Yeah, I found this particular phrase mortifyingly insensitive.

      • Inanna
        December 4, 2013, 4:57 am

        Taxi, when I read that phrase I was incandescent with rage.

      • Chu
        December 5, 2013, 11:08 am

        Rachel Corrie style…
        Wow. what was that about?

        Imagine if some said ‘Yitzhak Rabin style’. What a gaffe…

        Corasanti only offers justifications where she might have admitted it was wrong. The response feels haughty, and seem’s to reinforce Susan’s criticisms.

    • Hostage
      December 2, 2013, 10:51 am

      This is not a response to Susan Abulhawa’s exacting review

      I’ve read two articles here by Susan Abulhawa. The other one is here:
      First they stole our books, then they took our story http://mondoweiss.net/2013/02/first-books-story.html

      She makes an infantile claim that she has a unique right to author fictional commercial works as a social commentator to effectively criticize social, moral, or economic abuses in connection with historical events that transpired in either Palestine or Israel, but that Jewish social commentators or authors, who have lived there for years somehow do not.

      I don’t think that’s a morally defensible position, especially since she herself has commercialized fictional Palestinian characters who make platitudinous or temporizing statements about Jewish suffering during the Holocaust. Where I’m from, “What’s fair for the goose is fair for the gander” and the right to pursue any occupation is a fundamental human right without regard to race, creed, color, nationality, or gender.

      Here is an example where she equates criticism with bigotry in almost the same way Zionists equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism:

      I finally watched The Great Book Robbery at the University of Pennsylvania this weekend with some friends. It’s a film documenting Israel’s systematic looting of over 70,000 books from Palestinian public and private libraries . . . The film itself is excellent and I have a lot of good things to say about it.

      Now I’ll tell you what bothered me about this film. Toward the end, text appeared on the screen to tell us that no attempts have ever been made to return any of these stolen books (marked abandoned property in the Israeli national library). Immediately after, there was text indicating that there has also been no organized Palestinian demand for these books to be returned. My well-honed antennae perked up with this statement and I sat through much of the Q&A session ruminating about the unspoken meaning of those words, particularly as they were coming from an Israeli filmmaker. In one of his responses to questions, he made another reference to Palestinian inability to coalesce around a demand for those books, “whose ownership is easily proven.”

      It was here that I raised my hand. I asked the first of my questions, which didn’t pertain to what really annoyed me: “Palestinians can prove ownership of nearly all of Israel, what makes you think that demanding our books back would get a result different than demanding our homes back?” He said it didn’t matter whether we got them back or not, what mattered was the demand.

      It seems that Israelis, especially those referred to as “leftists” can’t help but to lecture Palestinians. The kind of paternalistic finger wagging the director was doing seemed so natural. Even when I questioned him about it, he was indignant and self-assured in his right to criticize.

      I reminded him that they – yes, he is part of the “they” – have taken everything from us and with what gall, with what right, did he think he could wag his finger at us when heroes like Samer Issawi are dying of hunger in their prisons.

      He didn’t get it. And few in the audience understood my perspective. What an angry, ungrateful Palestinian I was being! This Israeli was on our side and here I was jumping all over the poor guy. Even the Palestinian young woman who organized the event stood up to defend Mr Brunner. I asked her sit down if she was going to try to squash this discussion because he, the director, should be able to answer uncomfortable questions.

      Mr Brunner defended his position and said he did indeed have a right to criticize Palestinians.

      • gamal
        December 2, 2013, 5:38 pm

        I think you are being unfair to Ms Abulhawa,

        “The fact is that Mr Brunner’s film is wonderful and he’s being compensated for it, with whatever funds, fame or recognition the film brings. And while there is nothing wrong with an Israeli contributing to our narrative, it is not okay for him or her to try to frame that narrative or the discussion of our narrative. When an Israeli filmmaker cannot understand why an occupied, imprisoned, oppressed society might not want to normalize relationships with members of the occupier’s society, that filmmaker does not have the right to condescend and criticize. That is something that must be earned by Israelis, and there are certainly some who have. They are those who have truly joined Palestinian society in one way or another. People like Neta Golan and Amira Haas come to mind.”

        infantile? perhaps,

        What have ” platitudinous and temporizing remarks” in the mouth of characters about the Holocaust to do with anything? The Holocaust has been deployed by Zionists as a justification for their depredations, and is thus part of Palestinian discourse, of necessity, or does some one own that narrative? The Holocaust, in Zionist discourse and the Holocaust are two very distinct categories, actually Palestinians, if anyone does, own the former.

        Domination is pervasive, it is true that the objects of oppression may show insufficient gratitude towards the beneficiaries of said oppression when they lament what has become and is becoming of their victims, are you not avoiding the substance of Abulhawa’s criticisms, which is about the blunting of the liberatory capacity of these actors by their own insufficient appreciation of the nature of Palestinian “encounter” with the rage of Zionist colonialism.

        Albeit that there is no reason why anyone should not write about anything, the how and why matter, and the powerless are paranoid about well meaning efforts to help them, from some quarters, that seems entirely reasonable to me. Its what is being said not just who is saying it.

        I think it may be the “heres my take on a solution, you should…” thats upsetting, clarity and that broad vista are for those who hold the hilltops, and soar like eagles over their social space, down in the valley we see only a maze, of intersecting barriers, dead ends and unplumbed pitfalls, we dont make good bed fellows because of all the thrashing around, its how we keep our corpse animated.

        The sense of loss of control and being subject to deluded irrational policy, the overwhelming feeling of powerlessness experienced by people being settler colonized is inconceivable to me, if i wrote about it am not sure i would do so with any ideas about how the despised should sort it, infantile and morally inconsistent though her position may be, its the nature of the terrain, the fundamental injustice relates directly to the right to narrate, recount, memorialize, normalize and define, to be heard, appropriating anyone’s voice is to silence them. So its Abulhawa right and wrong, for me, right because its wrong, but also correct in terms of substance, but that is irrelevant to dupes like me, we abide via disruption.

        But as ever perhaps this specific case is becoming subsumed in pre-existing issues, have you explained to your wife what women need to do to ensure their liberation, perhaps you do know that, it kind of has a context though, best be delicate and not too simplistic.

        For most Arabs Levantine and North African, we live with insolubility, for reasons other than our incapacity, there aren’t going to be solutions, but still we, we, would like to talk about “we”, are tired of the endless controversy we have become for the west, and that is somewhat infantile and unreasonable, but then we only human, and are perhaps guilty of claiming privileges well beyond the purview of our rights, how could it be otherwise, the law and all the operations of these socio-economic systems disable us, in the case of Israel ridiculously visibly, no hidden hands there, the mores of privilege dont work as a praxis without that power, being indecent, infantile, inconsistent or insolent, not saying she is but if that were the case, that does not make Ms Abulhawa wrong when the real exigencies of struggle and liberation are kept in mind.

        since I see this issue as insoluble ( who can and cant talk, and how to solve Zionism or Palestinianess) perhaps I have disqualified my own voice, given my experience and proclivities, that wouldn’t surprise me.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 7:59 pm

        Gamal it sounds to me like the Israeli film maker was taken to task for making an admittedly mundane factual observation by someone with an almost narcissistic sense of entitlement.

        The right to an occupation and the right to have an opinion or viewpoint are fundamental human rights that don’t have to be earned.

      • W.Jones
        December 2, 2013, 8:26 pm

        Hi Gamal.
        She writes that when a filmaker from the victor

        cannot understand why an occupied… society might not want to normalize relationships with members of the occupier’s society, that filmmaker does not have the right to condescend and criticize.

        This is like saying that a Person who does not understand why an abused spouse would not want to normalize relations with his/her abuser does not have “the right to criticize her.” It does not mean they have no political or human right, but they are not morally ready to do so until they understand the abused person’s relationship to the abuser.

        I liked it when you wrote your pretty anecdote:

        I think it may be the “heres my take on a solution, you should…” thats upsetting, clarity and that broad vista are for those who hold the hilltops, and soar like eagles over their social space, down in the valley we see only a maze,

      • ritzl
        December 2, 2013, 8:31 pm

        Great clarifying/holistic comment, gamal. I didn’t get SA’s outrage, and was about to dismiss it, personally, for the reasons Hostage states, until I read your comment.

        Perhaps the resolution is as Annie states, if I restate it correctly, that “Almond Tree,” despite its liberties with the Palestinian narrative, is a gateway to “Goliath”-type (the why and reality of Palestinian life and struggle) readings. That would be worth the liberties.

        But if the net effect of “Almond Tree” is to guide noobs to something like a Joan Peters’ book, then SA is totally right in her outrage. As I think you’re saying, in part, the latter needs to be guarded against with great diligence.

        The question posed by SA’s review is what IS the net effect of “Almond Tree?” Does it develop more and deeper exposure of the reality of Palestinian life, or does it steer people away with a sort of muddled soft-focus, “not so bad after all” portrayal of that ongoing harsh reality?

        Thanks. Peace.

      • irishmoses
        December 2, 2013, 8:57 pm

        Hostage,

        While the rights to occupations and opinions may be fundamental, the real issue here is how qualified, informed, and sincere the viewpoint is.

        I also think it is understandable that a victim of an ongoing and massive war crime might have difficulty with her narrative being fictionalized by a member of the very people oppressing her. What if a privileged, gentile German woman who had lived through the 1930s and 40s in Nazi Germany wrote a novel in 1948 whose characters were German Jews suffering all the outrages of that period? Would you expect Jewish Holocaust survivors to welcome the author and her novel, or view it with some suspicion or even disdain? I would expect comments like “The gall of this women. Who is she to write about our suffering and pain?” Would you describe the complaining victims as people “…with an almost narcissistic sense of entitlement.”?

        I think victims of ongoing war crimes are entitled to their narrative and to their suspicions about the motives of those who offer to fictionalize their narrative. So I would cut Susan and Gamal and others a great deal of slack when it comes to their suspicions and criticisms of this author. After all, if they are the victims, it really is their narrative.

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 7:19 am

        While the rights to occupations and opinions may be fundamental, the real issue here is how qualified, informed, and sincere the viewpoint is.

        If I were an author of fiction trying to make a living and you wrote an article labeling me an uninformed or insensitive racist based upon this utter nonsense, after I had lived and observed the society in question for seven years, I would sincerely consider it libel per se.

      • Taxi
        December 3, 2013, 7:50 am

        Hostage,

        Apparently, seven years of supposedly living in a Palestinian village wasn’t long enough to make Michelle an ‘expert’ on all things Palestine – take for instance her use of the name ‘Achmed’, an intended-to-offend bastardization of the name ‘Ahmed’, employed by racist israelis.

        It’s right and all very well to defend Michelle’s rights to her own POV, but to go around elevating her obvious novice performance just because you’re pissed at Susan is turning you into a ‘Michelle right or wrong’ zombie.

        Very unbecoming.

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 7:55 am

        P.S. I wonder if any one here beside Annie or myself has bothered to read the book or Pamela Olson’s glowing review published by Mondoweiss? Ironically, it noted similarities in theme to Susan’s book Mornings in Jenin. See ‘The Almond Tree,’ a gateway book for westerners learning the Palestinian story — http://mondoweiss.net/2013/07/westerners-learning-palestinian.html

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 8:10 am

        It’s right and all very well to defend Michelle’s rights to her own POV, but to go around elevating her obvious novice performance just because you’re pissed at Susan is turning you into a ‘Michelle right or wrong’ zombie.

        Maybe you should point that out to Phil and Adam? They have published a review of the book written by Pamela Olson, who recommends it very highly. It said:

        I’ll admit, I started reading this novel with a bit of trepidation. A Jewish-American woman writing a historical novel from the perspective of a young Palestinian man requires serious chutzpah, and the fact that she named the main character Ichmad (a Hebrew-sounding transliteration of Ahmed) made me wary.

        But thankfully, what I found was an engaging novel with an impressive degree of empathy and authenticity. It reads like a combination of Mornings in Jenin and The Kite Runner. As such, it has the potential to reach broad audiences with a powerful message of Palestinian humanity that’s sadly missing from the popular consciousness. (And the choice to use ‘Ichmad’ actually comes from the author’s interpretation of a rural Palestinian accent, which later serves to distinguish him from a city-boy roommate.)

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/07/westerners-learning-palestinian.html

        So I’m not the only one who sees parallels between these two author’s books.

      • Taxi
        December 3, 2013, 9:31 am

        Sure you’re not the only one – no one said you were, Hostage. But you are having a difficult time accepting some of the valid criticism directed at Michelle’s book. Criticism that apparently she herself agreed with already and took seriously enough to make the necessary edits and amendments for her South Asia Edition (like changing the offensive name ‘Achmed’ to ‘Ahmed’).

        Meh – no biggie – no intellectual albatross round my neck. I just thank god that Michelle’s book isn’t the frigging bible or something, otherwise we’d all be waging a bloody jihad till kingdom come. Thank foof it’s all just a Thanksgiving food fight right here at Mondo Adams Family crib.

      • Pamela Olson
        December 3, 2013, 10:51 am

        Hi Hostage,

        I also wrote this about the book:

        Like Uncle Tom’s Cabin or Cry, the Beloved Country, The Almond Tree is a kind of “hybrid” or “gateway” book that tells a Palestinian story but with Western sensibilities in mind. None of these books is perfect, nor can they ever be perfectly authentic. But they can hopefully do their job—both to educate ignorant societies about otherwise very foreign subjects, and to inspire them to read and understand accounts by the victims of oppression themselves.

        When I re-read my review, I also realized I should have been more explicit about what part of Mornings in Jenin I was comparing The Almond Tree to. I was comparing the two in the similar time sweep, similar subject matter (following an individual family through decades of outrages), and readability — not authenticity or literary value.

        As for my analysis of the book, I read it not as condoning a reality where a Palestinian — even a genius Palestinian — has to grovel before racists in order to get ahead. It was instead revealing this reality in a way that I hope anyone with a conscience will see is deeply wrong.

        Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh, a Palestinian-Israeli himself, had a similar reading:

        http://mondoweiss.net/2013/07/oslos-order-the-arab-needs-the-jew-to-get-ahead-in-the-world.html

        Overall I felt it was a book whose heart was in the right place, and it’s apparently striking a nerve and selling a lot of copies among people who wouldn’t normally read about the Middle East. I hope it will be kind of a “gateway” book that will pique people’s interest enough to get them to read more authentic books by Palestinians.

        There are problematic aspects to the book for sure, but overall I thought the positives outweighed the negatives. And I have to admit I enjoyed the read, despite the false notes that rang sometimes. Overall I was impressed by how much she got right.

        Just one person’s opinion.

      • Pamela Olson
        December 3, 2013, 11:20 am

        Of course, I should hasten to make very clear — this book is not meant to replace Palestinian narratives, and I sincerely hope it will not do that. Just hopefully deliver innocent readers toward *at least* a more nuanced perspective of things, and hopefully toward, as I said, Palestinian narratives. People who wouldn’t otherwise pick up a Palestinian narrative because they were either too ignorant or too brainwashed.

        If this is the result, I think it will be a positive. If the result ends up being silencing or replacing Palestinian voices, that’s a different story.

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 12:08 pm

        Meh – no biggie – no intellectual albatross round my neck. I just thank god that Michelle’s book isn’t the frigging bible or something, otherwise we’d all be waging a bloody jihad till kingdom come. Thank foof it’s all just a Thanksgiving food fight right here at Mondo Adams Family crib.

        I don’t mind having a family food fight with you either. I hope you know by now that I enjoy it when a Palestinian or Arab gets the opportunity to offer advice or criticism here to Jews about Israel, Zionism, religious intolerance or any other aspect of life that divides us. I try to stay collegial if I offer any advice or criticism. I get frustrated like anyone else when I see so many people placing a priority on nursing or settling old scores and so few reaching across the divide to end the death and violence and establish respect for one another’s equality as a first order of business. It doesn’t matter where we go from here by way of 1ss, 2ss, etc. if that doesn’t top the list.

      • Taxi
        December 3, 2013, 12:59 pm

        Hostage,

        I have the absolute highest respect for you. May I share with you that one of the best and most funnest fights I’ve ever had was a food fight in a posh restaurant and all I can say is that you haven’t really lived till you’ve had a food fight – a real one with grilled fish and humus and steamed broccoli and mustard sauce :-)

        Try it one day – it sure softens up some of ’em fossilized bones in your antagonist’s skull.

        But seriously, Hostage, you really are amazing – even when you’re wrong… well, half-wrong in the case of your judgement on Susan Abulhawa.

        Oh c’mon I’m just messing widya!

      • LeaNder
        December 3, 2013, 1:26 pm

        Hostage, I have never watched you in a context where your responses felt similarly emotional to me. And as always, I am not sure I completely grasp the reason why.

        It may well be true, the book could help change the publics perception, at least that is Electronic Intifada’s take:

        Novel with Hollywood potential exposes Israel’s lies

        Which ultimately leads us back to Jerome Slater’s discussion about Max’ book. Pick up People were they stand:

        Cohen Corasanti has a clear audience in mind — namely those people who are not aware the realities that she has become painfully aware of and to, it could be safely said, her own kind, i.e. Jewish readers. This is reflected both in the author’s note, where Cohen Corasanti states her desire to “make the world a better place,” and in the quotation at the beginning of The Almond Tree, which is from Rabbi Hillel (30BC-10AD): “That which is hateful to you, do not do unto another … That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary.”

        What is important for me as a reader is this:

        The Almond Tree is not a book for those with a taste for gritty realism and the Palestinian characters are portrayed with sweetness and affection that is reminiscent of Ruth Prawdha Jahbwala’s depictions of India.

        Add to that that the “journey of the hero” in Israel and the US ends leads up to the larger American Dream scenario. The deeper down the journey starts the more impressive the rise is, no doubt. A boy who has to take care of his mother and 9 siblings makes it to Harvard. Add to that the hint on a page turner based on “flat characters”, something, and I am aware it’s a judgment by the author, I am absolutely averse to in literature.

        Michelle claims it is at least a semi-true story, she only fictionalized events, she actually based her narrative about “Ichmat” on the life a real Israeli Palestinian genius, or on the life of someone who was a “love on first sight” for her that unfortunately ended unhappily, as I read it:

        I won a merit fellowship to study Arabic over the summer and when I returned for my second year of graduate school at Harvard, I went with my professor to Walden Pond. I was speaking to him in modern standard Arabic and 3 Palestinians approached us. One spoke directly to me. He had lived in the same dorms as me at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, we knew the same people and had the same birth day, thought he was 5 years older than me. It was love at first sight. I discovered he was doing his post-doctorate at Harvard jointly with a Noble Prize winner and his Israeli PhD advisor. His father went to prison when he was 12 years old after he helped a refugee who snuck back into the country bury weapons. Being the oldest of 9 with an illiterate mother, he was forced to become the breadwinner. But because of his genius in math and science, he was able to attend school infrequently and still get a need based scholarship to The Hebrew University. In an environment of publish or perish, the playing field was leveled and the Israelis soon noticed and embraced his genius. Their love for science surpassed their love for country.

        You tube interview Michelle Cohen Corasanti

        The YouTube interview shows us what may have made Susan Abulhawa feel slightly uncomfortable about the character “Nora”. Cohen Corasanti admits: Nora is everything she always wanted to be: “So it was impossible for me to give her any flaws, so I had to kill her off.” The novel she tells us ultimately is an imaginary journey substituting for something she never did but claims she always wanted to do. Something she realized she could do on a much larger plain after she read The Kite Runner. No doubt a novel can maybe change the mind of more people then our limited capabilities to change only one person’s at a time.

        As far as literature is concerned, it feels I really cannot surrender to your fairness demand, at least to the extend I understand it. But I do not either in any way deny Michelle the right to write the book the way she wants. And strictly I have seen reviews that find Susan’s narrative pretty American too.

        Maybe this “larger scenario” would have been more interesting, at least for me:

        When I met the Palestinian at Harvard and heard his father went to prison when he was twelve and wasn’t released until he was in graduate school, I wanted to make his dreams come true. Instead, however, I turned out to be his worst nightmare.

      • LeaNder
        December 3, 2013, 1:34 pm

        I missed to include this link:

        Interview with the author

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 4:41 pm

        Hostage, I have the absolute highest respect for you.

        The feelings mutual.

        But seriously, Hostage, you really are amazing – even when you’re wrong… well, half-wrong in the case of your judgement on Susan Abulhawa.

        I don’t know if I’m wrong or not. I love her book and just think she’s taking an approach here that’s unnecessarily confrontational and unfriendly. I’ve behaved much worse myself, in exactly the same way, and it’s just never worked out well for me or anyone else when I did. I disagree with her in this instance, but I know her heart’s in the right place and she is obviously on the right side of this struggle and trying to make a point that she believes in.

      • gamal
        December 3, 2013, 10:39 pm

        Dear Hostage,

        I dont know how to say this but, you a thing man, and yes that’s to me

        “The right to an occupation and the right to have an opinion or viewpoint are fundamental human rights that don’t have to be earned.”

        just extraordinarily beautiful a statement, we want to upset you because your humanity and good sense are not really an answer to a ‘narcissistic sense of entitlement.’ you know we dont accept our inferiority we cant help but assert.

        You a military man, I always respected the deep understanding of human frailty that so many military men have, like women they often have a culture of nurture and acceptance,

        As a huge beneficiary of your legal pedagogy, no really you a good teacher, i know of no higher praise than that, do you get that we need to offend you, to transgress proper boundaries, I dont have any more respect for any one I have ever read on the net greater than I have for you, I know what you mean I do understand, and fuck you and all the structures, including those hard wired into our soft hearts, my friend we have lost everything and the process proceeds, like integration when the oblongs are sufficiently narrow, we perfectly mirror futility, what you expect man a kiss and hand shake its shit down here, and we have breed in this miasma.

      • gamal
        December 3, 2013, 11:17 pm

        “I don’t know if I’m wrong or not. I love her book and just think she’s taking an approach here that’s unnecessarily confrontational and unfriendly. I’ve behaved much worse myself, in exactly the same way, and it’s just never worked out well for me or anyone else when I did. I disagree with her in this instance, but I know her heart’s in the right place and she is obviously on the right side of this struggle and trying to make a point that she believes in.”

        I mean really are any Zionist prigs reading, (Miriam et al). Its a one para Tolstoy,
        I for one am seduced, but we must not agree, but still, thats beautiful Hostage, respect. ( we were always taught to salute shortest way up longest way down, however it is most properly done, Respect.) You enunciate the essential view, its cool, when a retort spontaneously occurs to me i will obviously proffer it.

      • Hostage
        December 4, 2013, 6:52 pm

        do you get that we need to offend you

        I don’t mind it at all. I’ve experienced my own feelings of hopelessness, personal inadequacy, and impotent rage after witnessing the world of shit in Lebanon during the 1980s. I just don’t think that, all things considered, Michelle and her book are examples of a person exercising white privilege to narrate marginalised lives without regard to the ethical considerations as Susan had suggested.

        The injustice will never be resolved through exercises in rationality. Until a whole lot more people start feeling sentimental about Palestinians and vicariously “walking a mile in their shoes,” nothing is ever going to change. I can’t personally sit through most so-called “chick flicks,” but can attest that fictional stories, which aren’t really very appealing on an intellectual level, like Field of Dreams, never fail to grab hold on some emotional, irrational level and bring tears to my eyes. So I can’t dismiss the idea that popular fiction might work the in the same way for the Palestinian cause with some of Michelle’s readers, and that there is much evidence that it might.

      • irishmoses
        December 4, 2013, 8:32 pm

        Hostage said:

        “…fictional stories, which aren’t really very appealing on an intellectual level, like Field of Dreams, never fail to grab hold on some emotional, irrational level and bring tears to my eyes. So I can’t dismiss the idea that popular fiction might work the in the same way for the Palestinian cause with some of Michelle’s readers, and that there is much evidence that it might.”

        How about Leon Uris’ Exodus? That novel, poorly written as it was, had a huge impact and made millions of Americans emotionally committed to Israel as that tough little David fighting off the barbaric Arab giant. It was a triple whammy: the book, the movie, and the musical theme which stayed on top of the pop charts for weeks.

        My favorite part is where he quotes the Balfour Declaration but leaves out the bit about “…it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine…”

        Supposedly Uris was commissioned to write the novel by a Zionist organization. His first novel, Battle Cry was a very good rendition of combat in the Pacific by a Marine battalion. He had “tough little Jew” character who fought every person in his platoon during basic training (they apparently were all anti-Semites), losing every fight but the last one.

        I have been meaning to read Trinity, Uris’ novel about Ireland which I’ve heard is quite good.

        About a year and a half ago, I decided that what was needed was an anti-Exodus novel that could tell the I-P story fictionally and hopefully gain support for the Palestinians’ plight as well as the harm Israel’s policies are having on US interests. With that in mind, I’ve written a two part novel about an American woman president who tries to prevent Israel from attacking Iran, and when the attack turns into a major disaster, has to try to put things back together again. I have Palestinian, Israeli, and Iranian characters along with plenty of American ones as well (Jew and non-Jew).

        I finished part one and self-published it on Amazon but made no marketing efforts. I’m currently working to finish part two. I won’t worry about marketing until both parts are done.

        Pardon my digression. I think your comment about popular fiction having the ability to grab hold on some emotional, irrational level is spot-on. That’s what’s needed–emotional attachment. Whatever Ms. Corasanti’s motives and abilities may be, if her book could catch on and have an impact, so much the better. Her book can’t be any worse than Exodus.

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 5:36 pm

        How about Leon Uris’ Exodus?

        That’s a very apt example.

        I finished part one and self-published it on Amazon but made no marketing efforts. I’m currently working to finish part two. I won’t worry about marketing until both parts are done.

        I look forward to buying them when you do. I hope Phil will give you a review.

    • Inanna
      December 4, 2013, 5:02 am

      yeah, I had to laugh at the mix-up of Marcel Khalife with Michel Kleifi. The former is a great Lebanese singer who has great sympathy for the Palestinian cause and has even put the poems of Mahmoud Darwish to music in a recent CD called Fall of the Moon.

      Thanks for an excellent comment vacy.

  12. Stephen Shenfield
    December 2, 2013, 6:39 am

    Perhaps this book would have been less pretentious and less vulnerable to criticism while keeping the qualities that made it a commercial success if its basis were openly and not covertly autobiographical (with changes of detail to protect privacy).

  13. Woody Tanaka
    December 2, 2013, 8:12 am

    “Professor Menachem Sharon starts off as an evil racist and so his name helps convey that sentiment. He lies and maliciously tries to sabotage Ichmad at first until he is forced to hire him as his research assistant. When this occurs he recognizes Ichmad’s genius and changes. ”

    Except that in real life, neither Sharon nor Begin changed. They remained evil throughout their lives. It’s as if an author had named a character Adolf Goering and had that character “see the light” in the end. Totally unbelievable and completely ham-handed.

  14. Woody Tanaka
    December 2, 2013, 9:20 am

    Yawn. When the israeli Jews stop targeting Arabs, in every way, then you can expect an end to Palestinian REACTION.

  15. MHughes976
    December 2, 2013, 12:54 pm

    I agree that ‘Menachem Sharon’ sounds like a name for a caricature, with ‘Adolf Goering’ a good parallel. Still, Henry James was allowed to write a serious novel in which he names a character he wishes to mock ‘Fanny Assingham’. I think it is extremely difficult to hit the right style in this sort of thing, with so many readers primed to react the wrong way, and very difficult to judge a long narrative by mentioning just a few points. If you’re trying to win sympathy for Palestinians it would be important not, at very least, to make your Palestinian characters sympathetic at every point.
    I was protesting the other day at the idea that the liberation of Palestine is entirely a matter for Jewish opinion in the West, so that Blumenthal’s aggressive style is a mistake. But I wouldn’t want to go all the other way and say that breaking the anti-Palestinian ice that still prevails in the Anglo world is pointless or insulting even if Western attitudes and Jewish sensibility are evident at every stage. If it’s a best seller and makes people think rather than refuse to think about the ME problem that has, in all the circumstances, got to be a gain.

  16. American
    December 2, 2013, 1:10 pm

    ‘ The majority of people in the US don’t care enough to read non-fiction accounts about what’s happening to Palestinians. By writing about them in a compelling novel form, the reader has 348 pages to become invested in the characters and care about what happens to them’>>>>>>

    This is absolutely true.
    How many people do we know that read ‘The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich’ as opposed to the numbers who flocked to the movie Ann Frank.
    How many people read Foote’s’ The Civil War’ compared to the millions that flocked and still do to “Gone with the Wind’.
    I would defend this book for the same reason I defended Max’s Goalith.
    They both in their own ways, through muli horror examples of oppression or thru a single Palestine character, seek to make people care about I/P by the reader ‘feeling’ the Irs occupation.

  17. gamal
    December 2, 2013, 2:50 pm

    “The Almond Tree shows that Ichmad is not only a genius, but is also smarter than all his Jewish peers. He goes on to win a Nobel Prize. ” Take that Zionist racists!

    “Ichmad is not only a genius.” ok..why not

    “He goes on to win a Nobel Prize.” ah he’s Jewish, cool, you dont address Ms Abulhawa’s substantive criticisms, wishing well is no answer,

    he had a skill Israeli’s value and yet having things Israeli’s value has rarely been a cause for the blossoming of peace, for Palestinians, I like the sword/veil thing, a little local colour is always nice, and its a Palestinian recipe for peace no less, yum.

    and in this context dont you see “such as Jamal Kanj” is risible, sweet but still,

    your final para is frankly sinister, “ending Palestinian suffering”, thats pretty impudent of you, do you know the word “Liberation”, suffering, Palestinian or otherwise is pretty much unavoidable in this life, Liberation is what Palestinians want, not to be put out of their misery and resistance is not the opposite of peace, the savage depredations of settlers (which here is more a mindset than a zip code) are. ( i dont when i became able to speak for Palestinians, i presume anyone can)

    In common with all other commentators I salute Menachem Sharon it is a Mcgonagle standard achievement, you are immortal, I havent read your novel and so stand condemned as the bigot that I undoubtedly am, its just your defense put me off, I do like the idea of marketing “suffering”, the Palestinian variety will need a bit of tweaking but still thats a big dollar. Then you can all be Jews together in the whitemans Holy Land, you know cancelling out a Palestinian, Abulhawa, with a (Jamal Kanj) Palestinian does rank as a lapse, in good manners at the very least.

    why does anyone expect Palestinian gratitude, especially for condescension, as i understand her, Abulhawa is not saying only Palestinians can write about their experience she has specific problems with this narrative, and yes its nice to know that Palestinian culture is “great”, its just a shame they dont realize it and are so desultory about claiming their stuff, from the outside Palestinians are just so exasperating.

    Anyone read Pattons “Cry the Beloved Country” I always hated it but then I am perhaps somewhat infantile, it may however be a better model than Beecher-Stowe.
    a friend Issey, a Nigerian Ibo, has just published a novel “She Knew Better” lots of young African women are writing things such as Aidoo in “Sister Killjoy”,

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Sister_Killjoy

    I would like to read Alice Rothchilds review of the Almond Tree, once some American has related to me the greatness or otherwise of my culture, surrender is for us, as for women, I believe, no defeat.

    Great writing often promotes nausea.

    perhaps when its filmed Assaf could do the theme tune, and Ibish could write the blurb.

    Just as black Americans and first nations have found if you just work for that Nobel never raise your voice and make nice with white overlords peace will reign and freedom ring.

    anyway why should not the Palestinian story be available to anyone to write about, from the inside, its not like they can build a wall round it.
    When is Amos Grossman’s next book out.

    reading/writing and crying will naturally lead to improving lectures directed at those benighted Palestinians, why when you check it they are lucky to have such wonderful oppressors always able to recognize that we know the villages of Scotland better than those of the Galilee, with apologies to Haliby, no wait I dont need to offer no stinking apology.

    Proximity does not make the privileged necessarily the best informants as to the experience of domination that the indigenous undergo, and all its ramifications.

    sorry for the incoherence its a policy, caused by this emotionally potent over “simplifaction” and other such texts, perhaps this thread will include some instructions as to how i could do it better, proscribe away, its your right after all.

    I keep thinking of the “Assassination of Richard Nixon” with Sean Penn and the vignette about Zebra’s and Black Panthers.

    I think Susan may be due a short sojourn in Birmingham jail, till she learns how to conduct herself around her saviors and betters who only wish her and her ilk the best, the very best, dehumanization is not always the result of malice.

    • irishmoses
      December 2, 2013, 8:07 pm

      Gamal,

      Your comments make me realize how little I know, how much I can never know and never feel, and how arrogant it is for me to presume I can comment on a subject and people from who I am so far removed in experience and emotion.

      There is a cleverness to MW banter where Jews and Gentiles express their views, make legal arguments, discuss and debate the latest outrage or barrier in the process. Somewhere, outside the din of all the clever banter, are the victims whose voices rarely appear, and then only briefly. Do they lose the thread or just tire of it?

      Occasionally, rarely, someone, you, speaks up with words that deal a stunning slap to my arrogance and complacency, reminding me of the emptiness of all the clever, intelligent banter so far removed from the ongoing pain of the victims.

      Thanks for the eloquent slap. I needed that.

      • W.Jones
        December 3, 2013, 10:33 am

        Oh, don’t feel slapped, Irish.

        Gamal used very pretty poetic images in his previous post, which better matches with Susan’s disagreement with Brunner’s highlighting how Palestinians, almost all of whom are refugees or under occupation, failed to launch a campaign to get books back when ownership is “easily proven”:

        I think it may be the “heres my take on a solution, you should…” thats upsetting, clarity and that broad vista are for those who hold the hilltops, and soar like eagles over their social space, down in the valley we see only a maze, of intersecting barriers, dead ends and unplumbed pitfalls, we dont make good bed fellows because of all the thrashing around, its how we keep our corpse animated.

        When it comes to Palestinians and being sincere in not only helping them but respecting them, then it is only redemption, the “prophetic” Ellis talks about. I would not feel slapped in the face when refugees we care about say what they like or don’t like, but a feeling of eagles, valleys, barriers, and hilltops.

        Peace to you.

      • Keith
        December 3, 2013, 8:22 pm

        IRISHMOSES- “Somewhere, outside the din of all the clever banter, are the victims whose voices rarely appear, and then only briefly.”

        How true. And how arrogant of us to think that our clever banter is of any real significance. I have commented in the past that Mondoweiss could benefit from more commenters who better represent the average person rather than being dominated by the “clever banter” of the well-educated.

    • Keith
      December 3, 2013, 8:24 pm

      GAMAL- Very interesting comment.

  18. Kris
    December 2, 2013, 4:32 pm

    How is it not a wonderful thing that someone, even if non-Palestinian, has managed to write a book about I/P that might actually be widely read? And might even become a movie? And, by increasing U.S. popular understanding of the plight of the Palestinians, might help end Israel’s reign of terror?

    Sure, Ms. Corasanti should have included some Palestinians in her review group. But, really, how important is it that the wrong form of “Ahmed” is used, and the sword at the wedding is a bogus touch? What readers want in a novel is a thrilling narrative, and if this novel succeeds in opening American eyes to the suffering of the Palestinians, it truly will be today’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

    And describing a killing by Israel as being “Rachel Corrie style”–is this insensitive, or powerful? I vote for “powerful,” since the phrase fills me with terror and grief, and my mind is flooded with all the images I have seen of that blessed girl’s murder, and reminds me once again of how sadistic Israeli culture is today. If only a fraction of the readers of “The Almond Tree” decide to google “Rachel Corrie,” to learn what “Rachel Corrie style” means, it will be a great thing.

    • Taxi
      December 2, 2013, 5:27 pm

      Kris,

      You’re a very generous and understanding person, positively peddling the positive. But the heinously cold-blooded way that Rachael Cory was murdered calls for a more appropriate and respectful description. To my ears, the use of the hip and popular word “style” (Gangnam Style) puts a nice soft cushion around the gruesome crime. It belittles the gravity of the death of dear Rachael Corrie. I’m assuming here, but I do think her grieving family would have been prickled uncomfortable by this description too. Not nice.

      • Hostage
        December 2, 2013, 7:21 pm

        But the heinously cold-blooded way that Rachael Cory was murdered calls for a more appropriate and respectful description. To my ears, the use of the hip and popular word “style” (Gangnam Style) puts a nice soft cushion around the gruesome crime.

        Nope, newspapers here in the USA have been reporting Gangland-style, Chicago-style, and Execution-style murders for generations.

      • irishmoses
        December 2, 2013, 9:12 pm

        How about Auschwitz-style or Anne-Frank-style?

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 9:11 am

        How about Auschwitz-style or Anne-Frank-style?

        Auschwitz has been singled out and used so shamelessly for propaganda purposes, like the “Auschwitz borders” talking points that it lost much of its sanctity.

        In the Journals of Rachel Corrie, she frequently talked about herself in the third person and described her traits, like the Rachel Corrie learning style. There is a minor tempest in a teapot over the question of whether or not the actors narrating those passages in My Name Is Rachel Corrie should pretend to be Corrie or assert their own identity?

        There is a very Jewish tradition of trying to erase an adversaries name from history. The disgraceful way that Zionist groups have blackmailed venues into canceling performances of My Name Is Rachel Corrie really does add another dimension of adding insult and injury which justifies the separate category, denomination, or spiteful style of killing that it represented.

      • jon s
        December 3, 2013, 10:22 am

        “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” was performed here in Israel , and even received an award at the “Teatroneto” festival.

      • Hostage
        December 3, 2013, 4:52 pm

        “My Name Is Rachel Corrie” was performed here in Israel , and even received an award at the “Teatroneto” festival.

        Well we have plenty of repugnant folks on this side of the pond who don’t feel so egalitarian about the way the arts can humanize others, e.g. see Richard Ouzounian, ‘Corrie’ canceled in Canada: Play has potential to offend Jewish community’ :

        CanStage, the country’s largest not-for-profit theater, has reversed its earlier decision and opted not to present the show as part of its 2007-08 season. . . . James Nicola programmed it this year for the New York Theater Workshop, but that production was canceled after resistance from board members and subscribers. . . . . It didn’t seem as powerful on the stage as it did on the page,” said CanStage creative producer Martin Bragg after seeing the production at Gotham’s Minetta Lane Theater.

        But in a situation eerily similar to the one that faced Nicola, it appears that Bragg faced pressure from some of his board members not to alienate Toronto’s Jewish community.

        While admitting he has neither read nor seen the script, CanStage board member Jack Rose said, “My view was it would provoke a negative reaction in the Jewish community.”
        http://variety.com/2006/legit/news/corrie-canceled-in-canada-1117956295/

  19. Parity
    December 2, 2013, 4:43 pm

    It seems to me Corasanti did a good job of dealing with the criticisms Abulhawa made. Corasanti’s heart is in the right place, and Annie gave a good example of how her book is reaching people’s hearts and making them sympathetic to and more knowledgeable about the Palestinians. Why are we wasting time on the Corasanti/Abulhawa feud? Let’s move on.

    • W.Jones
      December 2, 2013, 5:11 pm

      Hey Parity,

      Literary criticism is OK. It does not mean the book’s total impact is negative. It sounds like a good impact for Annie’s neighbor, but Susan’s comments have meaning because her people are the book’s subject.

  20. Shingo
    December 2, 2013, 5:15 pm

    I think you make a very strong case Michelle,

    While I admire Susan Albuhawa for her passion and commitment, sometimes she simply throws out the baby with the bathwater.

    When the film, “In the name of the father” came out, it blew audiences away and enrages them over the extent of the injustice of British imperialism. Critics attacked the film for it’s inaccuracies and poetic license – such as the fact the main character and his father never shared a cell together as the movie portrays.

    So what? The power of the film was in the story telling and the story would not have been as accessible to the audience had they not taken this liberty.

    The truly authentic account she demands might satisfy her own expectations, but if the book touches a wide audience and inspires empathy for Palestinians, surely that’s a compromise worth making.

  21. jon s
    December 3, 2013, 2:29 am

    Ms. Corasanti writes, at the end of her reply, that her goals are to promote peace and understanding, and awareness of Palestinian suffering and goes on to ask : “Are we not working to achieve the same goal?”
    I would point out to her that many of the regular commenters on MW don’t share those goals , at least not the “peace and understanding” part.

    • Woody Tanaka
      December 3, 2013, 10:17 am

      “I would point out to her that many of the regular commenters on MW don’t share those goals , at least not the ‘peace and understanding’ part.”

      True. Many of your fellow zios are looking for the eternal subjegation of the Palestinians or for a “peace” which does not make all the Palestinians whole for all of the crimes which the zionists committed, but which locks in the theft of Palestine. Absent a willingness to permit the Palestinians to reclaim what it there’s, you zionists don’t want “peace and understanding,” you’re looking for your victims to bow, scrape and kneel to you and to sign away their homeland, their property and their rights to your ideology of ethno-religious bigotry and aparthied.

    • talknic
      December 3, 2013, 11:48 am

      @jon s “I would point out to her that many of the regular commenters on MW don’t share those goals , at least not the “peace and understanding” part”

      You ‘would’ point out. OK please do. Because all you’ve done is make an unsubstantiated accusation

    • eljay
      December 3, 2013, 1:02 pm

      >> I would point out to her that many of the regular commenters on MW don’t share those goals , at least not the “peace and understanding” part.

      It’s true. Regular Zio-supremacist commenters don’t share the goals of peace and understanding. They’re too busy defending, justifying, excusing and/or advocating for their oppressive, colonialist, expansionst and supremacist “Jewish State” and its immoral and unjust activities.

  22. Refaat
    December 3, 2013, 9:14 am

    this is so lame. LAME. this shows things a lot worse than the stuff Susan highlighted.

  23. Michelle Cohen Corasanti
    December 3, 2013, 10:36 am

    Quite frankly, for me, the issue is not about being Jewish or Palestinian, it’s about being human. I witnessed racism, oppression and unjustifiable human suffering of fellow human beings. I have tried to shine a light on the situation because I know awareness leads to understanding and understanding leads to change. I am successfully creating awareness and understanding. It’s too bad that I am condemned for that.
    Clarification needs to be made on the issue of my Jewish and Christian fundamentalist editors. My editors were for writing, not content. I was a lawyer, not a writer. I only became a writer after I read The Kite Runner and realized that a writer can reach into people’s hearts and change them. I lived inside the green line for seven years among and with Palestinians. I have my BA and MA both in Middle Eastern studies. None of the editors helped me with content. The majority of editors I found through Gotham Writer’s Workshop where they assign you an editor. I did not chose Jewish editors, the program chooses editors for each manuscript. I actually was hesitant at first. I only mentioned that they were Jewish and Christian fundamentalist because of the impact my book had on them, one that was left out when I was condemned for not having a Palestinian editor. This is in my blog where the information about my Jewish and Christian fundamentalist editor was found.

    Many months ago, Michelle Cohen-Corasanti enrolled in one of my Writer’s Digest creative writing courses on story beginnings. The novel she worked on in class was The Almond Tree. It was clear immediately that this was a writer of uncommon talent and promise. The problem—for me—was her subject material. She was writing what seemed to be a pro-Palestinian book. All my life, I’ve been pro-Israeli. A political stand derived from my upbringing in a fundamentalist Christian home, where we were taught from an early age that the Jewish people were God’s “chosen people,” and Israel, a God-favored state. I was taught (and firmly believed) that as long as the U.S. was an ally of Israel, that we were also a nation under the grace of God. A pro-Palestinian novel simply went against all of my core beliefs. But, I consider myself a professional and I also fervently believe in freedom of expression. So, while I disagreed with the theme of her novel, she was never aware of my personal beliefs which I never revealed and I simply worked with her in addressing her craft. And then… she asked if she could hire me after class to coach her on her final rewrite. Now, I had a moral quandary. Could I, in good conscience, help someone in a work that was fundamentally opposed to everything I believe in? I asked several Jewish friends for their advice. I got differing views. Some said I shouldn’t lend my name and whatever editing expertise I had to the project if I disagreed with the politics. That wasn’t censorship, they argued, and I agreed. Others said that this was a professional matter and that my personal politics and beliefs shouldn’t be the deciding factors. After much soul-searching, I agreed with the latter. At no time during the process did Michelle know of my beliefs. I pride myself that I’ve never revealed to any of my students or writing clients my personal and political views nor let those views influence the way I worked with them. The few who’ve learned of them have always been surprised, assuming I shared their own views. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve remained neutral when working with writers.

    We began to work together. At no time during this process was Michelle aware of how I felt about Palestinians and Israel. My only guide was to always treat her material in a professional way and only look at it with the goal of helping her make it the best novel she was capable of writing. It was only when she had finished, that I revealed my personal feelings about Israel and Palestine to her. And that her novel had changed my mind…What’s important about this lengthy preamble to what I have to say about Michelle Cohen and her novel, The Almond Tree, is that this novel—the intensely gripping story of a Palestinian boy and his family and their suffering under Israeli occupation—convinced me with surety that my beliefs about this conflict were severely flawed and had been formed from a one-sided awareness. Her truly beautiful novel showed clearly that there are always two sides to a question, something I’d forgotten. In other words, Michelle wrote a novel which changed my mind about something important. That is the mark of a great work of art.

    It was easy to see Michelle has talent—what convinced me that this will be a book that will achieve substantial sales and be nominated for prestigious awards—was that the story she created converted me from what I had assumed to be a committed and unyielding position to one in which I now see the Palestinian people as belonging to the community of mankind every bit as much as any other group, including the Israelis.

    Some will be tempted to compare The Almond Tree to The Kite Runner, but to do so unfairly places the two books in some sort of presumed ranking. Both of these books are brilliant and powerful accounts and deserve to stand tall on their own merits, irrespective of the other.

    Ichmad’s story is a big-hearted story of a small Palestinian boy who learns to survive in a brutal environment and doesn’t simply endure, but emerges from the fire with the wisdom gleaned from the example of a father who has taught him that all men have value, even their enemies. A tale of innocence moving through a vicious world, compassion learned against an environment of daily horrors, and wisdom forged through a boy’s journey through a life we would never wish upon our own children. Michelle Cohen’s The Almond Tree is one of those rarest of books—a fiction that rings with authenticity and integrity to reveal the wonder of what it really is to be human.

    If ever peace is to become a reality between Israel and Palestine, it will be because of the influence of books such as this. I am proud to have been allowed by Michelle Cohen to have played a very tiny role in the development of this novel. This is a book that I think will endure and resonate forever in the souls of all who read it. I know it will in mine. Some books have the power to change us profoundly; this is one of those books.

    Les Edgerton
    Author of The Death of Tarpons, Monday’s Meal, Hooked and others

  24. W.Jones
    December 3, 2013, 11:05 am

    Hi Michelle.

    You wrote:
    “they were Jewish and Christian fundamentalist because of the impact my book had on them”
    That is impressive. Good job.

    . It was only when she had finished, that I revealed my personal feelings about Israel and Palestine to her. And that her novel had changed my mind…

    That was a nice review.

    Regards.

  25. MHughes976
    December 3, 2013, 11:51 am

    Being human is more important than being of one part of the human race, that is true. It’s a truth on which the whole idea of human rights depends.

  26. talknic
    December 3, 2013, 12:02 pm

    The Almond Tree – whatever it tries to be, it’s still basically a book by a student doing a writing course and reads that way

  27. LeaNder
    December 3, 2013, 1:52 pm

    Ooops, I changed my mind, slightly at least:

    In 1955, the West Bank was controlled by Jordan and continued to be controlled by Jordan until 1967. Accordingly, it would be wrong to think that Elkouriyah village was located in the West Bank in light of the fact that for more than the first one hundred pages of The Almond Tree, the reader is made painfully aware that the village is under Israeli martial law. Until 1966, the Palestinians in the Triangle inside the green line, among other places in Israel, were ruled by Israeli martial law.

    Admittedly I wondered about that. That’s really something that not many realize. Not bad.

  28. LeaNder
    December 3, 2013, 2:17 pm

    Ok, got it:

    We should all wonder how she can believe that her attack on The Almond Tree somehow benefits the Palestinian people?

    “the sweetness and effection” India style is still haunting me though.

  29. Keith
    December 3, 2013, 5:10 pm

    There is something about “The Almond Tree” which continues to bother me. Why did Michelle Cohen Corasanti write from the perspective of a fictional Palestinian male? Why did she attempt to portray herself as a Palestinian who has experienced Palestinian victim-hood, rather than as a privileged Ashkenazi Jew who has merely observed it? There seems to me to be a certain dishonesty here. A masking of radically different backgrounds and experiences, and, yes, a certain inherent bias. Had she written from her own perspective of a privileged Ashkenazi Jew who spent seven years going to school in Israel where she rubbed elbows with some Palestinians and was appalled by the racism she saw around her (but did not experience in the fullest sense of the term), that would have been much more intellectually honest than for this Harvard trained lawyer to pretend to authentically represent the Palestinian narrative, which is what she has done. To my perspective, Corasanti has primarily added another achievement to her elite CV to the cheers of the doctrinal system which confines the Palestinian narrative to the safety of the Jewish tent.

    • Annie Robbins
      December 3, 2013, 11:59 pm

      “masking” seems like a strange term under the circumstances. the authors name is on the front cover. here’s an article on the topic http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/03/the-mixed-results-of-male-authors-writing-female-characters/273641/

      note there are many criticisms as well as accolades, but deception is not mentioned.

    • Hostage
      December 5, 2013, 8:33 am

      There is something about “The Almond Tree” which continues to bother me. Why did Michelle Cohen Corasanti write from the perspective of a fictional Palestinian male?

      Why did John Steinbeck write from the perspective of Ma Joad, a fictional female character? Why did Hanks and Banderas pretend they were gay in Philadelphia? It’s what they do for a living. A better question might be why do we allow ethnic communities, working through the Actors Equity or Mondoweiss to question the rights of others? There certainly are examples where we’ve seen attempts to deny employment to creators, writers, actors, or actresses on the basis of race, creed, or color right here in the liberal USA. If you carry this nonsense to its logical conclusion it ends up like this:

      Cameron Mackintosh, the producer of “Miss Saigon,” reportedly filed papers with Actors’ Equity late yesterday afternoon formally asking that an arbitrator decide whether the Filipino actress Lea Salonga will be allowed to come to Broadway to re-create her leading role of a Vietnamese bar girl in the hit London musical.

      http://www.nytimes.com/1990/12/14/theater/saigon-producer-seeks-arbitration.html

  30. Sylvie1970
    December 3, 2013, 8:35 pm

    As a person of mixed heritage (Jewish-Israeli and African-American) who is married to a Muslim, I am frankly disappointed in both Susan Abulhawa and Cohen Corasanti. First, Abulhawa deconstructs the Israel/Palestine conflict through the lens of race – which is, frankly, disingenuous. She appears to be pandering to the left by appealing to the racial sensitivities so acutely acknowledged among white liberal; but certainly she must know that race is not the issue here. Culture, yes. Religion, yes. but Race – no. Ms. Abulhawa herself could easily be mistaken for a Jew (of any origin) – Palestinians and Israelis don’t appear to look much different from one another from a race perspective. As I’m sure Ms. Abulhawa is aware, Jews are as diverse in skin color across the globe as Muslims are (though obviously, far fewer in numbers). So let’s just say that she’s “appropriating” one people’s suffering to make a more emotionally charged case for her own. From that point on, her argument against the book is pointless. She starts out on shaky ground and it just gets worse from there. I sense from her writings that nothing will make Ms. Abulhawa happy unless her narrative is the only narrative. This is all that anyone can or should expect from a fundamentalist in rather filthy sheep’s clothing. Now, regarding Ms. Corasanti’s book – she’s entitled to her point of view and it’s her experiences she chose to fictionalize. If I were her, though, I would not defend myself by going on and on about how she’s trying to change the world, or change minds or whatever. The best writers, the best change agents, don’t need to announce their plans.

    • gamal
      December 4, 2013, 12:50 am

      “Culture, yes. Religion, yes. but Race – no. Ms. Abulhawa herself could easily be mistaken for a Jew (of any origin)” so Sylvie race is?….equivalent to what naturally existing object…personally i feel race starts and ends with my inferiority, but that may be just the chip on my shoulder because of my

      Race

      Class

      Gender ( brutal circumsiscion, but cool privileges subsequently, do you do complexity?)

      The left is white liberal, shit, thanks for telling me, yeah its always good to hear about the “left”, they dont listen to me either, bastards!

      and yes only we can speak for we, Susan is manning a barricade against your malice
      Sylviebaby, I am with her, you seem kind of squalid.

      • Sylvie1970
        December 4, 2013, 12:06 pm

        Gamal,
        If you believe that race starts and ends with inferiority, then I don’t know what to tell you. Hopefully, your response was knee-jerk and not a conclusion you reached after any introspection.

        I don’t suspect that Susan is doing anything other than “manning a barricade.” But if barricades really worked well, then there should be no opposition to the wall in Israel.
        Best wishes.

      • Shmuel
        December 5, 2013, 5:05 am

        But if barricades really worked well, then there should be no opposition to the wall in Israel

        The wall is not in Israel; it is in the occupied West Bank.

    • W.Jones
      December 4, 2013, 12:59 am

      Hi Sylvie,

      While you are right that in real fact race does not divide people in the conflict, it is still a valid way of criticizing the book. The reality is that what you correctly called a religious division has been reinterpreted as an ethnic one- a conflict between two “peoples.” So long as each of these two writers belongs to different groups that commonly refer to themselves as being ethnically divided, it is OK to use an analogy to racial inequality to criticize the book.

      In fact, even if there was no dispute or masking about the underlying divisions, it would still be OK to use it as an analogy to other cases in the world of equality between groups.

      Regards.

      • Sylvie1970
        December 4, 2013, 11:55 am

        Thank you W. Jones. I do understand your position about racism as a valid critical tool, but I must disagree. In the United States, racism (specifically white vs. black) is a unique historical construct. Certainly racism exists across the globe for many reasons – but here in the U.S. – racism as it is traditionally understood is as weighted in meaning, complexity and nuance as the Holocaust is. Comparing the Palestinian experience to racism in the U.S. is an affront on many levels – it trivializes the experience that blacks encountered and still encounter in the U.S. and condescends to Palestinians by implying that somehow they have never been masters of their own destiny. No matter how horrible the situation in Gaza, they are not slaves, and they are in the midst of rebellion. Palestinians and Israelis are, unfortunately, avowed enemies. They are mutually to blame whether or not anyone on this thread wants to admit as much. Ms. Abulhawa, who routinely accuses Jews of “appropriating” intellectual and traditional Palestinians practices and customs, should think twice before she attempts to do the same with the black American experience.
        Kindest regards to you as well.

      • Cliff
        December 4, 2013, 12:39 pm

        . In the United States, racism (specifically white vs. black) is a unique historical construct. Certainly racism exists across the globe for many reasons – but here in the U.S. – racism as it is traditionally understood is as weighted in meaning, complexity and nuance as the Holocaust is. Comparing the Palestinian experience to racism in the U.S. is an affront on many levels – it trivializes the experience that blacks encountered and still encounter in the U.S. and condescends to Palestinians by implying that somehow they have never been masters of their own destiny.

        You’re absurd.

        No one is saying Palestinians are literally slaves.

        The racism and apartheid in Israel/Palestine is WORSE than racism/civil discrimination Blacks experienced during the Civil Rights fight era.

        To say that the Palestinian experience has no nuance while slavery and the Holocaust do is disgusting.

        The Palestinians have become a warehoused people. Ghettoized and radicalized.

        Their economy completely wrecked. Their society fragmented and divided through imperial politics.

        Their identity is regularly mocked and their suffering regularly ignored.

        You claim to be half-Black and half-Jewish married to a Muslim? It seems that the only part of you speaking right now is the Jewish part of you that is clearly ZIONIST.

        You end by issuing a lameass and predictably VAGUE condemnation of ‘both sides’. (concern-trolling)

        No matter how horrible the situation in Gaza, they are not slaves, and they are in the midst of rebellion. Palestinians and Israelis are, unfortunately, avowed enemies. They are mutually to blame whether or not anyone on this thread wants to admit as much.

        No, they are NOT mutually to blame. Israel is to blame. The Palestinians are not innocent entirely but they are not the aggressors, occupiers, colonizers.

        And YOU are not a former slave and most Jews are not Holocaust survivors. Stop exploiting both slavery and the Holocaust for your political agenda you troll.

      • Donald
        December 4, 2013, 12:44 pm

        “Comparing the Palestinian experience to racism in the U.S. is an affront on many levels – it trivializes the experience that blacks encountered and still encounter in the U.S. and condescends to Palestinians by implying that somehow they have never been masters of their own destiny”

        There are two standard tropes here–the first is that word “trivialize”, which is being used by you to imply that Palestinian suffering is trivial compared to that of African-Americans. The only person here trivializing suffering is you. You also link African-American suffering to the Holocaust, saying that they are both comparable in some sense, while then putting Palestinians in their place. I’ve seen this done before–someone says it is “trivializing” the suffering of group A if one compares their suffering to that of group B. Logically, of course, this means that the person using that term is saying that the suffering of group B is comparatively trivial.

        Next you use the “condescend” and “denying them agency” trope–that’s common too. I’ve often seen people defend some Western government (in this case the Israelis) by pretending to defend the dignity of their victims. It’s funny how the defense comes in the form of denying or trivializing the crimes committed against them, while holding them responsible for their crimes.

        I agree that Palestinians have committed crimes too. But it’s clear who the aggressors are in this conflict, just as clear as it would be if we were talking about the treatment given to Native Americans.

      • W.Jones
        December 4, 2013, 1:51 pm

        Dear Sylvie,

        Racism in the US is unique, but it also shares similarities. That lets us make comparisons. As you rightly said: “racism exists across the globe for many reasons”.

        You said that you understood what I meant about it being a valid basis for criticism. You are right that Israelis and Palestinians share the same race, and the distinction is religion. Unfortunately it is not always said that way. Over and again, Palestinians are called “Arabs” by Israelis, as if they are a separate ethnic group.

        Then, based on what you are right to call a misunderstanding of race, one nationality is in control of another nationality. In that case, analogies can be made to other situations where one group controls another.

        You appear to find black Americans’ situation in the US worse than that of Palestinians. Nonetheless, commonalities can be drawn across cultures, and this is a reason why many African Americans, at least in my experience, sympathize with what Palestinians are going through.

        I would add that unfortunately Palestinians have not really been masters of their destiny. The choice put to them by those in power has either been to fully acquiesce and get a cut-out Bantustan, or remain powerless.

      • Sylvie1970
        December 4, 2013, 2:19 pm

        I don’t think that I said it was worse. It is different. And in many ways, it is VERY different. There are absolutely black Americans who sympathize with Palestinians, there are many who do not, and there are many who could not care less. Susan’s use of the black American narrative is not simply a tool for critique; it goes much deeper than that for her. She seems to want us to buy into some notion of solidarity – I’m sorry, I haven’t forgotten that the Middle Eastern countries participated in the slave trade (and some still do). I haven’t forgotten that Muslims conquered and converted whole populations on the African and Asian continents. So what am I to do – pretend that Palestinians are not part of a larger Arab world?? The point is that I do not accept her version as my own. Moreso, her inability to validate in any manner the other side of the coin and her agitation against even those who might support her cause (if not her means), frankly, reminds me of every other fundamentalist I’ve ever known. She wants desperately for the whole world to acknowledge and support her version of the truth yet stifles or mocks any other version (just take a look at some of the conversations on her facebook that dare to question her posts or assertions).

      • Taxi
        December 4, 2013, 3:35 pm

        Sylvie,

        Your clear contempt for Palestinian people (and their books) is viscerally disgusting. Your sentiments went from covert peddling of soft zionism to overt peddling of hard zionism in under 5 posts.

        Your narcissism is a complete giveaway of zio behavior too: but of course you would time and again insist that the world acknowledge the validity of your opinion – and maybe it is valid, but just so you know, it certainly is not relevant, or consequential. How could it? I mean have you ever been to Gaza, spent even one night there? Ever been to Ein el Helwe refugee camp? WTF do you know about Palestinian suffering and Palestinian joy?

        Abhorrent how you tried to undermine and smother ongoing Palestinian agonies by shamelessly and insidiously playing both the race card and the holocaust card against Palestinian suffering. And with such a cold hand and arrogant voice too.

        That’s screwy and cruel.

        And that’s the definition of a zionist.

      • Sylvie1970
        December 5, 2013, 11:43 am

        Taxi, since you and Cliff apparently cannot bear to have someone disagree with you- and then accuse anyone who does actually disagree with you of having an “irrelevant” opinion – I won’t belabor this “conversation” with you any longer. It’s clear that anything I say, so long as it does not conform to your perspective, will be shouted down. I shouldn’t have to point it out, but you obviously know nothing about me except for what I’ve revealed – what do you know about where I’ve been or if I’ve lived among Palestinians. You have no idea. But of course, it provides you with a platform upon which to prove your own “authenticity.” I’m sure it would come as a shock to you to discover that there are indeed plenty of Arabs and Muslims, including Palestinians, who wish for peace with Israel. There are also Muslims across the Arab world who despise the Palestinians and couldn’t care less about their plight. There is no single unified voice, just as there is no unified voice among Jews. Clearly, however, you think there exists a very simple dichotomy – and you’re side is absolutely right. And that’s the definition of a fundamentalist. bye.

      • Sylvie1970
        December 5, 2013, 11:47 am

        Never claimed to be a half Jewish. I said that I was mixed heritage.

      • Taxi
        December 5, 2013, 12:14 pm

        Sylvie,

        “..but you obviously know nothing about me”.

        And I pray to atheist-god I never get the cursed opportunity either.

        Enough of your persecution complex! You’re being attacked for your zionism deary, not for your United Colors of Beniton religio-ethnicity. It’s your repugnant zionism that’s the target here, but obviously you’re not prepared to defend your hostility towards the Palestinian, only to hiss venom then run away.

        Buzz off then – see if I care.

      • American
        December 5, 2013, 1:09 pm

        Sylvie1970 says:
        December 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm
        + Show content
        I don’t think that I said it was worse. It is different. And in many ways, it is VERY different. There are absolutely black Americans who sympathize with Palestinians, there are many who do not, and there are many who could not care less. Susan’s use of the black American narrative is not simply a tool for critique; it goes much deeper than that for her. She seems to want us to buy into some notion of solidarity – I’m sorry, I haven’t forgotten that the Middle Eastern countries participated in the slave trade (and some still do). I haven’t forgotten that Muslims conquered and converted whole populations on the African and Asian continents. So what am I to do – pretend that Palestinians are not part of a larger Arab world??>>>>

        Oh just shut the little racist.
        You people show up here claiming to be Heniz 57 type ethnics which qualifies you as moralist on I/P but your goal is to side track the subject into something else.
        And we arent talking about blacks in America–the subject is Israel-Palestine.
        And we arent talking about the slave trade.
        If you want to do a cry fest on blacks, whites, slaves, Jews, Muslims go over to some site like DKos where the IQ is considerably lower and they lap that stuff up and you can wallow around in it all you want.

      • Shingo
        December 6, 2013, 9:45 pm

        It’s clear that anything I say, so long as it does not conform to your perspective, will be shouted down.

        It will be if it’s a dishonest and false argument. So you have a choice, make a decent argument or be prepared to be shouted down.

        I shouldn’t have to point it out, but you obviously know nothing about me except for what I’ve revealed – what do you know about where I’ve been or if I’ve lived among Palestinians.

        It shouldn’t matter who you are and where you’ve lived. You should be able to put forth an argument that stands on it’s merits without you having to hold up your claim to mixed heritage as some kind of credibility.

        I’m sure it would come as a shock to you to discover that there are indeed plenty of Arabs and Muslims, including Palestinians, who wish for peace with Israel.

        No it doesn’t, but it does come as a shock that someone would come to this sight with the belief that this is any kind of news. You obviously are pretty ignorant or live a pretty isolated life.

        This has indeed been discussed here many times, including the Arab Peace Initiative that Israel keeps rejecting. Of course, what you fail to mention (probably deliberately) is that peace is meaningless unless you describe the terms of that peace. There are very few Arabs and Muslims, including Palestinians, who would accept peace under the current conditions.

        There are also Muslims across the Arab world who despise the Palestinians and couldn’t care less about their plight.

        The same cloud be said of Jews and their opinion of other Jews. Hostage posted here a while ago that:

        Jabotinsky, Weizmann, Herzl, Ruppin, and Ben Gurion ridiculed ordinary Jews in the Diaspora and used derogatory terms to describe them, like Yid, eunuchs, Orientals, & etc. These were “Zionist people” who claimed they were inventing a “new Jew” and they even attempted to employ eugenics in pursuit of their goals. So it is hardly ludicrous to give them credit for inventing a new people. See for example Etan Blooms dissertation on Arthur Ruppin, the Father of Jewish Settlement in Palestine.http://www.tau.ac.il/tarbut/tezot/bloom/EtanBloom-PhD-ArthurRuppin.pdf

        Chaim Weizmann thought that the majority of the exiles in Europe were little more than human dust with no future ahead of them. He had no intention of bringing them to Palestine.
        http://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/cgi-bin/FRUS/FRUS-idx?type=goto&id=FRUS.FRUS1940v03&isize=M&submit=Go+to+page&page=837

    • Cliff
      December 4, 2013, 12:45 pm

      ‘Sylvie’ said:

      From that point on, her argument against the book is pointless. She starts out on shaky ground and it just gets worse from there.

      How is someone half-Jewish? Jewish identity is not genetic.

      So explain to us in detail why the argument is pointless. Explain how it’s on shaky ground. Explain in detail how it gets worse.

      How did you find Mondoweiss? Why did you decide to comment here? Where did you hear of this article?

      Why did you decide to comment on this article specifically?

      Do you have family in Israel?

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 9:02 am

        Jewish identity is not genetic.

        I’ll remember to tell that to my Doctor the next time he advises me about the various odds of a person contracting a genetic disease if one of their parents is from a Jewish community versus the odds if both parents are from that same Jewish community. He seems to be operating under a delusion.

      • Cliff
        December 5, 2013, 10:55 am

        He clearly IS operating under a delusion.

        Chinese Jews do not have the same prevalence of hereditary diseases (duh) as those seen in Ashkenazi Jews. Ditto for the other ‘lost tribes of Israel’.

        Gee, I wonder why!

        Jewish identity is a man-made, Hostage. There is no Jewish DNA with intrinsic ‘Jewish’ attributes. That comes later, when we label them as being ‘higher in certain Jewish populations’. When you then ask why – it’s likely because those populations interbred.

        You might as well say obesity is an ‘American’ disease since there is a higher prevalence of obesity in this country than any other in the world. Obesity – a result of both genetic, environmental, and social factors.

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 1:02 pm

        He clearly IS operating under a delusion. Chinese Jews do not have the same prevalence of hereditary diseases (duh)

        And I said that my Doctor was discussing the odds of a person inheriting a genetic disease based upon one of the parents coming from a Jewish community versus the odds if both came from that same Jewish community. There are inherited diseases in which even the Ashkenazim communities in the US and Europe are differentiated from one another. FYI, so far as I can tell, my Polish family was originally from Portugal and weren’t Ashkenazim. I do know that even in the enlightened age, when many Jews accepted secular and socialist ideals, there were still some laws in the countries where they lived against intermarriage with others. So the identity wasn’t totally self-constructed.

        Jewish identity is a man-made, Hostage. There is no Jewish DNA with intrinsic ‘Jewish’ attributes.

        Everyone’s identity is man made, but that doesn’t alter the fact that generations of Ashkenazim and Sephardim have inherited genes from their Jewish parents that none of them selected for themselves and that risk factors can be calculated based upon membership in specific Jewish communities. In some cases other non-Jewish groups do share the same maladay, but even in some of those instances, there is frequently evidence of a common ancestor.

      • American
        December 5, 2013, 1:21 pm

        People arent any different from animals—inbreeding does pass on genetic diseases.

      • LeaNder
        December 5, 2013, 3:20 pm

        Look, Hostage, since I somewhere else attested my fatigue with this line of discussion: I don’t mind this line of research, what I definitively don’t like are the counter arguments it seems to trigger, the fact that the present context research is far too easily turned into a political weapon.

        O Sir, we quarrel in print, by the book, as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.

        Jews obviously were a distinct group which partly intermarried and partly married people in the respective region, some people converted or assimilated one way or the other. If that weren’t the case we wouldn’t have a Jewish history, with distinct movements e.g. away from England and back, and away from Germany towards the East, or from Spain to different other places. I am not very drawn to the Ashkenazi-Khazar theory, but apparently it is attractive.

        I had a minor fight with Phil once when he still pondered to write “The Assimilationist”, for me it carried just too much historical load. Just as the question of his late friend about the family he married into, will they hide you, wasn’t quite as funny for me as it was for him. The mother of a friend hid her later husband, and the father of a former schoolmate of my mother, I researched for her, died in the camps since his wife divorced him, she wanted to save her children, she could have saved him too some suceeded. …

        Which, come to think about it, may well partly inform why I spontaneously picked one side in our context here. If humans are at least partly shaped by the specific traditions and memories of their groups, just as they are thrown into a web of self and other defined, than not even the best author can easily slip into the skin of whatever “other” as Michelle suggests. Apart from maybe creating characters solely to solely function as carriers of a tale: The moral of the story.

        Ichmat the boy and narrator describes his father when facing Israeli soldiers shortly before his arrest this way: his olive skin turned white? Hmmm? Really? There is more.

    • Shingo
      December 5, 2013, 6:22 am

      First, Abulhawa deconstructs the Israel/Palestine conflict through the lens of race – which is, frankly, disingenuous.

      That’s odd. When a paper was released showing that Arabs and Mizrahi Jews shared common DNA markers, Israeli propagandists screamed that it was insensitive and offensive.

      Eli Yishai, the interior minister, said recently that he would use “all the tools to expel the foreigners,” claiming that “Israel belongs to the white man.”

      The Israeli government runs campaigns against mixed marriages. Obviously the concern being that their progeny will have a contaminated gene.

      Are you going to tell us that this has nothing to do with race?

      • Sylvie1970
        December 5, 2013, 11:56 am

        Shingo, there are most certainly Israelis as well as Palestinians who are racist. I didn’t say that one group was disingenuous about it while the other was not. Race – IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE (or more specifically, concerning the kind of black/white racism that Ms. Abulhawa uses as a comparative tool) is not relevant here. Jews are multi-racial – there is no brown skin vs white skin here. Plenty of Palestinians have white skin, and plenty of Jews have brown skin – We all LOOK ALIKE! It has nothing to do with race, but everything to do with religion and culture. That’s it. We shouldn’t need to add this “race” element into the mix. It just doesn’t hold up under the light.

      • Cliff
        December 5, 2013, 2:47 pm

        Yet, you began by listing your fake racial background and that you are also married to a Muslim despite your apparent Islamophobia.

        Does your Muslim husband know you hate Muslims and blame all present-day Muslims for historical Islamic conquest and the Arab slave trade?

        Tell us how the half of you that is Black struggled oh so terribly against your decision to marry a Muslim.

      • Shingo
        December 6, 2013, 9:36 pm

        Race – IN THE TRADITIONAL SENSE (or more specifically, concerning the kind of black/white racism that Ms. Abulhawa uses as a comparative tool) is not relevant here

        Of course it is because racism is about perception. Eli Yishai is a Sephardic Jew, so he is not a white man, but nevertheless, he believes that “Israel belongs to the white man” and obviously includes himself in that category.

        So yes, this is entirely about racism and you are clearly a shill.

  31. Taxi
    December 4, 2013, 12:28 am

    Sylvie,

    You come across like a narcissistic and disingenuous peddler of ‘soft’ zionism.

    The only true statement you make is the very last line in your hack-job of a paragraph.

    Both Michelle and Susan’s books add value to the Palestinian struggle, unlike your pretentious and malevolent sudden appearance on this thread.

    That you would begin your post by telling us your motley ethnicity and the religion of your husband (so as to disarm us) while hiding an ax behind your back, sure is the standard infiltrator’s MO.

    You’re the “fundamentalist”, deary – looks like you’re the very wolf in “filthy sheep’s clothing” you’re complaining about.

    I get a strong sense that you probably know Michelle and you’re here not to critique Susan’s book or her critique of Michelle’s book, but to hack away at a genuine Palestinian narrative that Susan’s ‘Mornings in Jenin’ undoubtedly is.

    • Sylvie1970
      December 4, 2013, 11:44 am

      Taxi, Why would telling you about my ethnicity “disarm” you any more than anyone else’s ethnicity? Did you expect me to respond in a certain way because of it? Is MY narrative, MY experience any less meaningful than Susan’s? That is the problem with this entire thread – that there somehow exists only ONE narrative, ONE truth and ONE perspective. Anything that does not dovetail with your belief system is false, a lie, a provocation. People like you are why the whole conflict continues to fester. You can call me as many names as you wish – narcissist, infiltrator, whatever, but it doesn’t erase the fact that a genuine solution to the conflict will not come from people like you. Your (and Susan’s and Michelle’s) “ends justifies the means” approach to resistance is as equally useless as Bibi’s means. It will lead nowhere.

      • Cliff
        December 4, 2013, 12:40 pm

        What narrative? You are NOT A SLAVE!

        You keep speaking vaguely.

        Why don’t you tell us your position exactly on this conflict without resorting to worthless, bland, VAGUE denunciations of ‘both sides’.

        Stop equivocating and equating the OCCUPIED to the OCCUPIER!

      • Hostage
        December 5, 2013, 9:15 am

        Stop equivocating and equating the OCCUPIED to the OCCUPIER!

        First of all, this story takes place in Israel during the period of martial law. There were already plenty of native born Jews running the military even back then, like Allon, Rabin, and Sharon. They were oppressors, but were not aliens or occupiers.

      • Ellen
        December 4, 2013, 1:22 pm

        Sylvia, I think you answered your own question. If introducing yourself by sharing your ethnic background and that of your parents and husband would not “disarm” more than anyone else’s why would you do that? What relevance does it have here?

        Taxi rightfully points out, things like that are often done to “disarm.”

        I will not judge because I am stepping into the middle of this thread and do not want to make assumptions.

        Yet your testy tone, “people like you…” hints at much.

        Solutions come from understanding and honest dialogue. While one might not always agree, Taxi’s contribution, and people like her, on this blog has always been honest.

      • Sylvie1970
        December 4, 2013, 1:48 pm

        I introduced myself much in the way that any other poster might state that they are Palestinian, or Jewish, or English, or American. It sets the stage for my perceptions and perspectives. I believe that my “motley” ethnicity gives me a unique perspective – no less unique or valid – than Susan’s Palestinian-American perspective, or Michelle’s Jewish-American perspective. The only reason that someone might expect someone’s background to be “disarming” is if they have preconceived notions about what said background might be thinking.
        Regarding my “testy” tone, I don’t take well to being referred to as “deary” by Taxi, one of the most treacly condescensions in the English language – so I’m fairly certain that “testy” can be attributed to both posts. Finally, I have no doubt that Taxi is being honest, whatever that means here.

      • Cliff
        December 4, 2013, 3:50 pm

        I believe that my “motley” ethnicity gives me a unique perspective

        Why would it give you perspective?

        Your opinions have been uttered by Zionist commentators quite often.

        The Israel Lobby funded right-wing African-American group, Vanguard Something, shares your views.

        I can google ‘apartheid Israel’ and get hits that say ‘real South Africans say Israel is not an apartheid State’ but also ‘Desmond Tutu [or other anti-apartheid activists] supports BDS and the apartheid analogy’.

        Your race means nothing. You are not a slave and have never experienced slavery. You are not a Holocaust survivor and have never experienced a pogrom or blah blah blah.

        The fact that you threw in that you’re married to a Muslim to top it all off is LAUGHABLE.

        Your entire biography or promotion of such a biography is a red flag. You are nothing but a troll.

        BTW Jewish identity is not racial. There is no Jewish race. And ‘race’ is mostly political anyway. African-Americans are not similar to African Blanks.

        I recall watching a documentary with Henry Louis Gates going to Africa (East coast I believe). His question was re: Black identity. Hundreds of years ago, when Islamic empires ruled that area, Arabs wedded the local population. In the documentary, the interviewees considered themselves Arab rather than ‘Black’.

        Anyways! You seem to be ‘half Black/half Jewish’ but all Zionist. How convenient. And who cares really.

        Back up your arguments with some meaningful statements and credible sources and logic.

        Dont think for a second you’re going to get any mileage out of your sloganeering. Otherwise you’re just another Zionist chump.

      • Sylvie1970
        December 5, 2013, 11:30 am

        Cliff, your outburst is pretty unreasonable, but I will post just to remind you of one thing – one of the most recent articles on Mondoweiss supporting Susan Abulhawa”s critique was written by Dawud Walid who identifies himself – within his opinion piece – as a black American. Have you responded to him as you have to me, or is he somehow excused from your vitriol because he supports your own views. Your worldview is a very narrow one if it is inconceivable to you that a person like me could not exist. Unfortunately, I’ve been dealing with it all of my life, so as they say, whatever.

  32. Taxi
    December 4, 2013, 1:58 pm

    “Why would telling you about my ethnicity “disarm…”?

    So your defense is to play dumb, Sylvie?

    You begin your oeuvre with a declaration of your multiple religio-ethnicities, only to follow it with an attack Susan for no other reason than to attack her – you didn’t critique her work, but you attacked her personality/attitude – (notable here too how you spared Michelle your claws). I’ve seen this loathsome tactic before. It’s your context dear that pricked up my ears – I really don’t give a foof what your religion or ethnicity is, let alone your husband’s.

    “People like you are why the whole conflict continues to fester.”

    Yeah loads of zionists have said exactly the same thing to me too – interesting, no? And I suppose israeli crimes have NOTHING to do with the stalling of a solution, right? It’s all my fault there’s no peace in the middle east.

    Well thanks for your disingenuous input, genius.

  33. Taxi
    December 5, 2013, 3:30 am

    Cliff,

    Do you remember that zio troll, a couple of years ago, who claimed to be half German-half Lebanese: a committed shia who supports zionism? He absurdly claimed that his Lebanese ancestry and current family are from Bint Jbail, a village in south Lebanon famed for its brave resistance of the idf. (I can’t access the archives for some odd reason right now, but I’ll link it when the glitch is fixed).

    Methinks Sylvie took the same hasbara disguise classes.

    • Shingo
      December 5, 2013, 6:16 am

      Yes Robert Werdine,

      Didn’t you visit Bint Jbail and ask about him Taxi only to find no one had heard from him? The same troll who claimed his whole view of the Middle East was turned upside down by the writings of Bernard Lewis?

      How could we forget?

    • Hostage
      December 5, 2013, 9:50 am

      Do you remember that zio troll, a couple of years ago, who claimed to be half German-half Lebanese: a committed shia who supports zionism? He absurdly claimed that his Lebanese ancestry and current family are from Bint Jbail, a village in south Lebanon famed for its brave resistance of the idf.

      It looks like he’s employed by Sheldon Adelson these days: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/author/robert-werdine/

      • Taxi
        December 5, 2013, 10:23 am

        Hahahaha man I’m laughing so hard! Hostage, now that’s what I call a fantastic catch of the day!

        Now we know “Who Let The Dogs Out”.

        Aww alright here’s a link to the song with the above title – if you’re in a goofy mood like me:

      • Chu
        December 5, 2013, 11:23 am

        ‘Robert Werdine… studied at Indiana University, Purdue University, and Christ Church College at Oxford and is self-employed. He is currently pursuing advanced degrees in education and in Middle Eastern Studies.’

        Haha… looks as if trolling will get you a better position in the pro-Israel media outlets. The Times of Israel must be a desperate operation.

  34. Taxi
    December 5, 2013, 6:52 am

    LOL Shingo!! Yes yes yes it was Werdine and yes yes yes I happenstance did go to Bint Jbail to enjoy some ‘resistance tourism’, and yes I DID indeed ask the locals about his mother: an unusual shia lady who apparently married a German and produced a zionist – LOL! Well, needless to say, no one in the village I asked, and I asked a few including an old potter, knew anything about Mrs. Werdine.

    Man, since Werdine was exposed as a zio plant by my revealing discoveries in Bint Jbail, his posts then became so unbelievably convoluted and lengthy and zio yukky – his zionism just all flooded out of him like sewage and he stopped talking about Bint Jbail and shiaism altogether and focused unabashedly on, well, more zionism – what else?!

    Very impressed with your memory for names, Shingo. LOL that Werdine was a real headcase. And actually, Sylvie, I think, is by far more fangy and not a single funny bone in her skeletal system either. At least Werdine’s delusions and gumbo identity kit were hilarious – not spiky and hostile like Sylvie’s ID Rolodex.

    It doesn’t matter if Sylvie’s read either or both books, she’s clearly not here to talk about Palestinian culture and literary narrative, she’s here to stomp all over everything Palestinian.

Leave a Reply