The New York Review of Books has not yet reviewed Max Blumenthal’s definitive new book on Gaza of last summer, The 51-Day War. Just as The New York Times is yet to profile Blumenthal and ask him about his journey from Birthright to anti-Zionism, and Terry Gross has not yet had Blumenthal on her powerful NPR radio program to detail the roots of Palestinian resistance.
Here’s something the New York Review of Books is covering, though– “The New America: Little Privacy, Big Terror,” a review of books about international law and extrajudicial killings by David Cole, a law professor at Georgetown University. And Cole includes a big advertisement for Israel as the most moral military in the world. He writes of Owen Fiss’s book, War Like No Other: The Constitution in a Time of Terror:
Fiss cites as a model the judgments of Aharon Barak, who as chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court insisted that the law, and the court, had a central part to play in reviewing all aspects of Israel’s response to terror. Barak wrote landmark decisions limiting Israel’s detention policies, forbidding torture, requiring relocation of parts of the wall separating Israel from the West Bank, and insisting on strict limits and judicial accountability for targeted killing. He did so, moreover, in a country that faces the threat of terrorism on a much more frequent and intimate basis than does the U.S.
Fiss is right to demand more from our courts… Why, if the Israeli Supreme Court can review Israel’s every targeted killing after the fact to ensure that it conforms to the limits of law…. etc.
Anyone who makes these sorts of statements ought to consider that the wall does not separate Israel from the West Bank– its path goes through the West Bank– and that a Palestinian lawyer, Mohammed Allan, held a 60-day hunger strike to the door of death to protest a policy of detention in which suspects are held for months on end without charges. Countless children have also been detained without charges; UNICEF prepared a report on this ongoing travesty. And accountability for targeted killings? Breaking the Silence lately documented numerous killings in Gaza for which there has been no accountability at all, including the murder of two women in an orchard at long distance because one had gotten out a cell phone.
Anyone who accepts these assertions ought to read Max Blumenthal’s chapter on the execution of Salem Shamaly, a 23-year-old accounting student famously killed while he was walking back into the bombed-out neighborhood of Shujaiyah on July 20, 2014, to look for members of his family. Shamaly wore jeans and a t-shirt and was obviously unarmed. He was trailed by international volunteers. They were not killed; he was shot by a sniper.
Blumenthal details the devastation of such wanton destruction. A cousin of Shamaly’s who has lost his home tells him:
“The real problem is not just losing your home in the bombardment. The problem is you have lost your future, you lose your hope, and you can even lose your mind. Two million people here on the verge of losing their minds.”
One person on the verge is Shamaly’s younger brother Waseem, 14. He shakes with grief as he tells Blumenthal about how much he loved his older brother. Blumenthal relates:
“I… asked [Waseem] what he wanted to be when he came of age. He replied without pause that he planned to join the resistance. A look of intent had replaced his desolation.
Waseem told me that he had not considered becoming a fighter until the war came down on Shujaiya.”
The war on terror won’t end until Americans absorb the lessons in Blumenthal’s book, that dispossession, exile and brutalization engender violent resistance by Palestinians. Our boys and girls would form the same ambition as Waseem if their families went through what the Shamalys have gone through. The New York Review of Books describes Palestinian resistance as “frequent and intimate” terror, seeing it entirely from Israel’s point of view. Our leading intellectual journal should be a lot better than that.