This article reviews recent publications such as Artur Patek’s Jews
on Route to Palestine, Hillel Cohen’s 1929, Eric Gartman’s Return to Zion, Ofer Shiff’s The Downfall of Abba Hillel Silver, Jesse Ferris’ Nasser’s Gamble, Daniel Zoughbie’s Indecision Points, and more.
This column consists of capsule reviews of recent books about Israel, the Palestinians, and related subjects from various publishers. This special focus is intended to help analysts to better understand the trends in the histories of Israel and the Palestinians, the internal and external terrorist challenges facing them, and the components that may be required to formulate effective counterterrorism and conflict resolution strategies to solve their long conflict.
Palumbo-Liu, David. “Not so Much Anti-Boycott as Pro-Israel.” symploke 23.1-2 (2015): 425-57. [Review essay of Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm, eds. The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel (Chicago: MLA Members for Scholars Rights, 2015)].
Nelson-Brahm’s attack on the boycott stems largely from their characterization of it as anti-Semitic and anti-academic freedom. They feel that the boycott is therefore excessive, especially in the light of what they claim is a much better situation in Israel-Palestine than we imagine, one which must be preserved. They feel that the cost of a boycott includes disrupting a delicate and meaningful relation between Israeli and American academics. But most important is their belief that the boycott aims for the destruction of the State of Israel, and that, above all, warrants a condemnation of the boycott.
Conversely, I will argue, first, that the anti-Semitic charge is weak, even by the authors’ own standards; second, that their advocacy of academic freedom is inconsistent and serves mostly as a pretext to fend off criticism of Israel; third, that their claims regarding the situation of academics in Israel and the Occupied Territories is contradicted by the facts of the present day. I argue that their implacable defense of Israel as a Jewish supremacist state is at the heart of this volume, and that the issues of the boycott’s supposed anti-Semitism and denial of academic freedom are at best ancillary.
The absolute commitment of these authors to the preservation of that specific vision of a Jewish state accounts for their inability to see beyond that aim. They are profoundly unconcerned with precisely what the academic boycott of Israel seeks to help achieve—equal rights for Palestinians. Not only are they unconcerned with those rights, so long as they feel that those rights might lead to the “destruction” of the state of Israel, they are emphatically opposed to them.
Scholarly and authoritative, yet straightforward and accessible, Israel Affairsaims to serve as a means of communication between the various communities interested in Israel: academics, policy-makers, practitioners, journalists and the informed public. It is essential reading for anyone anxious for a fresh analysis of a key country in one of the most confounding regions in today’s world.
The book reviews editor currently has the following titles which are available for review. Interested individuals are requested to contact Prof Rusi Jaspal, the book reviews editor, via e-mail rusi.jaspal[at]cantab[dot]net
Aronoff, The political psychology of Israeli prime ministers
Bar-On, The Others within us: constructing Jewish Israeli identity
Blarel, The evolution of India’s Israel policy
Chaitin, Peace-building in Israel and Palestine
Coolsaet, Jihadi terrorism and the radicalisation challenge
Dalshen, producing spoilers: Peacemaking and the production of enmity in a secular age
Gavriely-Nuri, Israeli peace discourse
Goldsheider, Israeli society in the 21st century: immigration, inequality and religious conflict
Hall, Emotional diplomacy: official emotion on the international stage
Jaspal, Antisemitism and anti-Zionism: representation, cognition and everyday talk