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.
Category Archives: Culture
“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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
At a session on reproductive health at Aida refugee camp in Palestine, a community health worker asks, “In our political condition, men in prison get their sperm out, illegally, to women. What is the best condition for the sperm to be in?” Alice Rothchild, a visiting doctor, tries to imagine the conditions and desperation that lead to this practice.
Dr. Alice Rothchild attends the 10th Annual Lancet Palestine Health Alliance conference in Amman, Jordan. Researchers from Gaza were mostly not able to obtain permits and their absences were noted by empty chairs at the time of their presentations or blank walls at their poster sessions.
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.
The 30,000 “ex-Gaza” Palestinians in Jerash, the poorest refugee camp in Jordan, face services stripped by Trump– though they are stateless, half are below the poverty line, and 88 percent lack health insurance. Now wonder the children drop the F-bomb when they see American visitors.
Building a movement and building a business are one and the same for Murad Nofal and Mustafa Mabruk, 23 year-old Palestinian-American owners of an online clothing and accessory company called Wear the Peace.
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?”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
“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.'”
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.
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.
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 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.