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Imagine a US president taking Iran’s side in conflict with Israel, and you get Maguire’s thriller ‘Exodus Betrayal’

Philip Weiss on

Gil Maguire’s new novel, “The Exodus Betrayal,” imagines a US president siding with Iran after Israel attacks Iran, and it is intended to get Americans out of love with Israel, much as “Exodus” got us in love back in 1958. “I am trying to show how harmful our relationship with Israel has become and how the so-called special relationship is based on a myth of Israel’s importance,” Maguire says.

Getting in, and getting out, of Palestine

Alice Rothchild on

“The night is filled with the anxiety that any interaction with Israeli security triggers. We leave all of our suspicious material on Palestine, human rights, and any evidence of an interest in justice in an extra bag in Amman to retrieve on our return, and arrive at Allenby Bridge at 7:30 am.” — Alice Rothchild on entering Palestine from Jordan.

Fakhoury family keeps Ottoman-era pottery techniques alive in Hebron

Miriam Deprez on

Waheed Fakhoury, 74, sits behind a pottery wheel, eyes glued to a television above as his hands instinctively shape a silky mass of brown earth dug up from the West Bank city of Hebron. Within a few minutes he has modeled a large bowl. Fakhoury means “potter in Arabic.” When asked how long his family has been doing this craft, Waheed chuckles, “As long as my name has been Fakhoury.”

Beautiful resistance, and teenage angst, inside Aida refugee camp

Alice Rothchild on

Alice Rothchild is inspired by a visit to the Alrowwad Cultural and Arts Society in Aida refugee camp in occupied Bethlehem. Abdelfattah Abusrour founded Alrowwad 21 years ago in a mission to serve the needs of the community, and give children and young people every possibility to live rather than to die for their country.

Long past time to reclaim Judaism from Zionism

Carolyn L. Karcher on
A shuttered Palestinian shop in Hebron closed down by the Israeli military that was vandalized with a Star of David, an ancient Jewish symbol adopted by the Israeli state as a national symbol. (Photo: Lauren Surface)

How can the ethical precepts of Judaism be reconciled with Zionism? Carolyn L. Karcher has wrestled with this question for years, and the result is her new book “Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation” a collection meant to initiate difficult conversations within Jewish families and communities.

Why I distributed a ‘prayer for peace’ at my synagogue on Shabbat

Dan Fischer on
A copy of the Prayer for Peace that Dan Fischer distributed at his synogogue.

Dan Fischer shares a letter he sent to his rabbi explaining why he distributed an unauthorized “Prayer for Peace” to their congregation, which he says is an “alternative to several of our current blessings and symbols that send messages of war and subjugation.” 

James Baldwin and the Jewish State

Steven Salaita on
James Baldwin in Hyde Park, London, 1969 (Photo: Allan Warren/Wikimedia)

Steven Salaita reviews James Baldwin’s statements on Palestine and Israel which he says reveal a thinker of significant prescience and a skilled rhetorician who doesn’t allow audiences the luxury of comfort. “For Baldwin, Zionism isn’t an atavistic cultural or religious attribute, but the modern articulation of an age-old colonial logic,” Salaita writes.

UNRWA: A critical but impossible mission

Alice Rothchild on

More than 2 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan are served by UNRWA and Alice Rothchild visits the Nuzha camp in Amman where refugees get vital services from family planning to mental health counseling. The school is tidy and sparkling with an atmosphere of infectious enthusiasm. One girl asks: “Is America beautiful?”

Gunfight at the O.K. Kibbutz: Israel in the American reflection

Bruce Robbins on
Paul Newman in Otto Preminger's 1960 film "Exodus"

Bruce Robbins reviews Amy Kaplan’s book Our American Israel: “Kaplan argues that Israel made it possible for Americans to believe things they wanted to believe about themselves but were afraid they couldn’t, like the righteousness of their own use of military violence.”

Actor Faisal Abu Alhayjaa appears in NY this Sunday

Philip Weiss on

The Palestinian actor Faisal Abu Alhayjaa is known to the New York theater audience for his charismatic performance as a wounded resistance fighter in Bethlehem in “The Siege”, a production from the Jenin Freedom Theatre. He will be speaking about “laughter and liberation” at the People’s Forum in NY on Sunday.

‘Refugees are a tool of war’ — the view from the Syrian border

Alice Rothchild on

Rev. Nour Sahawneh aids thousands of refugees at his church in Mafraq, Jordan, near sprawling city-like camps. “Their lives are a disaster,” he tells Alice Rothchild. “They are a tool of war. They became a subject in a war, not a people to help… War is business.”

A note on Martin Buber’s failure and our own

Marc H. Ellis on
Martin Buber

Marc Ellis reviews Paul Mendes-Flohr’s new biography, Martin Buber: A life of Faith and Dissent: “My biggest complaint, a serious one, is that Buber’s understanding of the prophetic is mentioned but is hardly given the due needed. Buber’s analysis of the prophetic and its consistent failure, exemplified in his life both in Germany, Palestine and Israel, will, in my view, be, perhaps already is, Buber’s greatest contribution to the Jewish present and future.”

For Iraqi refugees in Amman, kindness, support and an application to Australia

Alice Rothchild on

Iraqis throughout the Middle East remain unregistered, uncounted, unassisted and unprotected. But Alice Rothchild visits the Collateral Repair Project in Amman, begun in 2006, which serves 10,000 families a year and teaches everything from Capoeira, to music, to English, to mind-body medicine.

My Skype lecture in Gaza is postponed due to bombing

Marc H. Ellis on

Marc Ellis was to lecture students in Gaza by Skype but Israeli bombing caused a postponement– a first for the veteran scholar, who writes, “You are witnessing the end of ethical Jewish history.”

At the seder, I felt I didn’t know who I was

Jonathan Ofir on

Jonathan Ofir at a family seder in Israel, hearing the old stories of genocide: “You don’t want to throw away everything because some of it is rotten, you don’t want to make a family gathering political, but it’s hard to be part of it and reduce it to mere ‘tradition’. You’re wondering what you are enabling, indirectly, by not speaking out, or by saying too little, or by not opposing things more clearly.”

In Israel, I’m washed in the brainwash

Jonathan Ofir on

Jonathan Ofir continues his journey in Israel-Palestine. He visits the western wall in Jerusalem and reflects on the erasure of the Magharibah quarter, sees a sign commemorating the theft of Yemenite babies, and reflects on the utter invisibility of the Palestinian presence in Israeli life.

‘Thou shalt not murder those who resist your oppression’:  #NoPassover reflections on a Jewish theology of liberation

Marc H. Ellis on

“Sometimes I am asked where would I begin if I were to write a Jewish Theology of Liberation today from scratch?” Marc Ellis writes. “A Jewish Theology of Liberation might begin with an addition to Emil Fackenheim’s 614th commandment or, more to the point, the positing of another commandment,” he answers, “after the Holocaust and after Israel – and what Israel has done and is doing to the Palestinian people. The 615th Commandment?  ‘Thou Shalt Not Murder Those Who Resist Your Oppression.'”

From God to art to politics, in Amman

Alice Rothchild on

A natural gas pipeline from the sea through Jordan is Israel’s latest effort to normalize relations with its Arab neighbors. But Palestinians resist. In Amman, Alice Rothchild visits an exhibit of remarkable friezes by Palestinian artist, Abdul Hay Mosallam. “They killed me and my killer denied me while turning cold in my grave,” are the words on the Gaza piece.

Why is this Seder different from all other Seders?

Ira Glunts on

A plan for an alternative Passover seder which is a reaction to the Israeli occupation and the Jewish religious rites deployed in its support: Ira Glunts’s Seder lo b’seder: the seder that skips the traditional seder, and supports BDS.

From early Zionism until today, Palestinian stonemasons built Israel

Nada Elia on
Palestinian laborers work at a quarry in the West Bank village of Taffouh near Hebron, 08 March 2017. (Photo: Wisam Hashlamoun/APA Images)

Andrew Ross’ “Stone Men” is a sobering book in many ways. The subtitle tells the real story: just as Israel could not exist without the land of Palestine, so the country could not be built without the steady toil, skills, and dependability of Palestinian stonemasons.

What motivates criticism of Israel by diaspora Jews? An interview with Bonnie Honig

Bruce Robbins on
Bonnie Honig

What motivates the criticism of Israel by Jews in the diaspora? Bruce Robbins talks with Bonnie Honig, one of the most insightful and original political theorists of her generation, who argues by targeting the Jewish diaspora in order to manufacture uncritical solidarity, Israel created, paradoxically, a sense of obligation to criticize Israel.