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British MPs won’t get to see ‘WitchHunt’ in the House of Commons – the very place it needs to be shown

Robert Cohen on

A new documentary called WitchHunt points out the narrow room for debate over alleged antisemitism in the British Labour Party. Anti-Zionist Jews are excluded as unrepresentative of British Jews. And why is it okay to talk about antisemitism and Zionism in Britain without asking a Palestinian what their direct experience of Zionism has looked and felt like?

The last eyewitnesses: a new film on the Nakba

Stephen Shenfield on

“Even a thousand films on the Nakba would not suffice,” says Ahlam Muhtaseb, co-director with Andy Trimlett of a new film, “1948: Creation & Catastrophe,” which is based in part on interviews with survivors, many of them of advanced years. The film has been subject to protests by Israel supporters, and a screening in West Hollywood was scratched under pressure in December, now rescheduled for March. Stephen Shenfield interviews the co-directors.

Who is at home and who is in exile: a review of ‘Fractured Destinies’

Lesley Williams on

Which is more painful: to be forced to abandon your homeland, or to remain, watching strangers erase all traces of your culture and history? This dilemma forms the crux of Rabai al-Madhon’s Fractured Destinies, which Lesley Williams calls, “a lyrically rich portrait of contemporary Palestinian society”

Ben White’s hopeful vision may include some false positives

Joel Doerfler on

Ben White’s consistently engrossing new book, “Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Palestine/Israel,” argues that “The end of Israel as a bipartisan issue of concern in US politics, along with the wider left’s alienation from and the far right’s embrace of Israel” will undermine Israel’s ability to maintain the status quo. But is he right? Joel Doerfler wonders if Israel can get along without its traditional allies.

‘Realism’ Israeli-style: A kinder, gentler occupation

Joel Doerfler on

Micah Goodman’s book Catch-67: The Left, the Right, and the Legacy of the Six-Day War has been celebrated for its “pragmatism” and “realism” and topped the Israeli nonfiction best seller list for weeks while being read by Benjamin Netanyahu and many top officials involved in administering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But Joel Doerfler says, “the most striking thing about Goodman’s argument is the utterly conventional and largely unexamined set of historical and moral assumptions on which it is founded.”

If there’s mansplaining and whitesplaining, then why not Ziosplaining? – on Yossi Klein Halevi’s Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor

Ilene Cohen on

Ilene Cohen defines ‘Ziosplaining’ as “the efforts of Zionists of so-called moderate stripe, who are endlessly pained by reality, to explain to Palestinians (and the world) that they have no choice but to support the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” She says the latest effort in the genre is Yossi Klein Halevi’s Letters to My Palestinian Neighbor. “That neighbor, by the way, is the author’s imaginary neighbor—the only one possible for such an exercise, because few and far between would be the Palestinians who wouldn’t gag at this patronizing effort to have their situation ‘explained’ to them,” Cohen writes.

A boyhood shadowed by the impending fall of Palestine

Georgia Beeston on

A Palestinian Boyhood, the new autobiography by Palestinian writer Reja-e Busailah, relates a remarkable story about overcoming the challenges of growing up blind in Palestine in the years up to and including the 1948 Nakba, which uprooted his family. Georgia Beeston: “Simply written, the book takes the reader through the author’s daily life, underlining the everyday challenges of the visually impaired.””

The remarkable disappearing act of Israel’s car-bombing campaign in Lebanon or: What we (do not) talk about when we talk about ‘terrorism’

Rémi Brulin on
Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and IDF Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan in Lebanon in 1982. (Photo: David Rubinger/CORBIS)

Ronen Bergman’s book Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations tells that story of how from 1979 to 1983 very senior Israeli officials conducted a large-scale campaign of car-bombings that killed hundreds of Palestinians and Lebanese, most of them civilians. While the book has received the highest praise from reviewers, this secret operation has not been mentioned once. Remi Brulin writes this is a perfect illustration of the political discourse on “terrorism”: “The secret car-bombing operation Israeli officials conducted in Lebanon in the early 1980s represents a remarkable historical example of such ‘silences,’ and of the ‘rules’ that underlie the discourse on ‘terrorism’ and ensure that certain things simply ‘cannot be said,’ certain facts simply aren’t ever mentioned.”

The struggle against colonialism: a review of ‘Why Palestine Matters’

Nada Elia on

Nada Elia reviews ‘Why Palestine Matters: The Struggle to End Colonialism,’ a new book by the Presbyterian Church Israel Palestine Mission Network: “With Why Palestine Matters, the Israel Palestine Mission network of the Presbyterian Church is once again proving that it is serious in enacting solidarity, with a highly-readable book providing accessible analysis, online resources, discussion guidelines, and concrete action steps towards a solution.”

The Insult: Six points toward clarification

Terri Ginsberg on

Controversy has arisen in recent weeks over the 2017 film, The Insult, Ziad Doueiri’s film and Lebanon’s submission to the 2018 Academy Awards. In a review, film scholar Terri Ginsberg says the movie is a vehicle for pro-Israel propaganda.

Norman Finkelstein’s new book on Gaza is a meticulous account of Israel’s crimes

James North on

Human rights organizations Amnesty International, B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch stopped itemizing Israeli crimes in the 2014 assault on Gaza, the worst of them all, Norman Finkelstein documents in his impassioned record of war crimes against the strip, Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom, published by the University of California Press.

Examining ‘Ten Myths about Israel’, by Ilan Pappe

Allan C. Brownfeld on
Ilan Pappe

Palestine was not empty. The Jewish people are not a nation with a homeland in the Middle East. Palestine was not ‘redeemed’, it was colonized. Its people did not flee, they were ethnically cleansed. Jews are not all Zionists. These are some of the myths that scholar Ilan Pappe exposes in his new book.

Documentary on Israeli-Palestinian dialogue — ‘Pomegranates’ — leaves the viewer even more despairing

Philip Weiss on

A new documentary on the conflict, In the Land of Pomegranates, suggests that Israelis and Palestinians only need to understand the other’s narratives of victimization to overcome their differences and get along. But its portraits of young Palestinians and Israelis scarred by violence shows that only outside pressure and structural political change will allow the two peoples to get along, and the film’s politics are meaningless.

Norman Finkelstein’s ‘Gaza’ is an exhaustive act of witness

Marilyn Garson on

Marilyn Garson reviews Norman Finkelstein’s new book ‘Gaza: An Inquest Into Its Martyrdom’: “Finkelstein has set out to deconstruct the false narrative of war in Gaza, by refuting its component parts.  One by one.  Finkelstein is an author, activist and scholar with decades of archives and outrage to bring. ‘Gaza’ is one exhaustive act of witness.”

The goy and the golem: James Angleton and the rise of Israel

Philip Weiss on

No individual had as large a role in Israel’s shift from an embattled settler state to a regional power as James Angleton, the head of counterintelligence at the CIA in the 50s-70s, who relied on Israeli intelligence in his battle against communism. Angleton overlooked Israel’s acquisition of nukes, Jefferson Morley relates in his new biography of Angleton, The Ghost.

Watch the cathartic Vietnam documentary

Philip Weiss on

The left is trashing the Vietnam documentary by Ken Burns on PBS. Though it is didactic and middle-brow and America-centric, the documentary is majestic in its depiction of murderous arrogance, and should educate millions to the horrors of occupation and the ferocity of a subjugated people’s resistance.