3 years ago

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

Amitai Etzioni David Katz Harsh Pant - Middle East Forum

lege of New York,

lege of New York, purports to present the manbehind the myth, a devotee of Savile Row tailorswho, at the same time, allegedly chastised theWest and the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) with equal gusto.To his credit, Veeser unmasks several contradictionswithin the character of his icon, acknowledging,for example, that despite his wishto “preserve a distance” from the PLO, Saideventually supported it. The author sees thissomehow as a “political error” in which Saidstole “victory from youthful fighters” and, bycooperating with the PLO, mistakenly handedit to “corrupt old men.” Never mind that these“youthful fighters” were financially and morallysupported in their butchery of Israeli civiliansby the “old men”; Said’s change of heartwas a “tragic irony” that came a “decade toolate.”Veeser dilates upon Said’s magnum opus,Orientalism, but critical examination is absent.Throughout his life’s work, Said substituted onestereotype for another. Indeed, European influencein the Middle East and North Africa didexist for a few hundred years, but before, during,and, to some degree, after the influence ofEuropeans began to be felt, it was the OttomanEmpire, another active and aggressive colonialpower, which had the greatest influence in theregion.Thus Said’s true legacy is one of defendingIslamic imperialism and indulging in politicizedrhetoric heavy with accusations and resentment,an appraisal not shared by Veeser.Said’s work was intellectually shallow and severalof his assertions about his background areapparently fraudulent. 1 One is never quite surewhether his support for Arab violence was dueto tribalism, insecurity about his origins, or tohis undoubted capacity for self-pity, an unattractivecharacteristic not rendered invisible bythe cut of a Savile Row suit.Reut R. CohenVan Nuys, Calif.1 Justus Reid Weiner, “‘My Beautiful Old House’ and OtherFabrications by Edward Said,” Commentary, Sept. 1999.The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the LandmarkUN Investigation of the Gaza Conflict. Editedby Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and PhilipWeiss. New York: Nation Books, 2011. 480 pp.$18.95, paper.Ever since its release in September 2009, theGoldstone “Report of the United Nations FactFinding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” has beenthe catalyst for contentious debate over the legitimacyof the Jewish state. With the overwhelmingthrust of the report condemning Israelfor war crimes and crimes against humanity,it is invoked by the boycott, divestment, andsanctions (BDS) movement against Israel anddrives a lawfare campaign against the country’sleaders, using the law and legal systems for strategicpolitical ends. Supporters of Israel fromacross the political spectrum have criticized themission for its biased mandate, lack of objectivity,and duplicitous methodology. With the reportalready thoroughly scrutinized and dissected,is there anything significant to add?There is, but readers will not find it in thisbook.There is nothing, for example, about the challengesto the assumption that the vast majorityof Gazan fatalities were civilian. The authorsnever mention reports indicating that many ofthose killed in Gaza were young men who fit theage and gender profile of combatants. Indeed,Hamas’s recent revelations confirming manycombatants among the fatalities underscorethese findings, confirm Israel’s original estimates,and invalidate the Goldstone report’s centralthesis that Israel was intentionally targetingcivilians.But the authors, all journalists, find no roomfor facts that might undermine the underlyingassumptions of the report. Instead, they devotethe bulk of the book to reprinting large sectionsof the report, interspersed with excerpts fromwitness testimonies although this material isreadily available in its entirety online. There isno serious attempt to probe the report or analyzeits shortcomings. The last quarter of thebook consists of eleven selected essays, writtenby prominent anti-Israel activists or emotionalpro-Palestinian advocates, with one ex-92 / MIDDLE EAST QUARTERLY SPRING 2011

REVIEWSception. Their arguments are tiresomely familiar:“The real purpose of the 2005 withdrawal of Jewishsettlements in Gaza was to consolidateIsrael’s continued occupation”; “Israeli forcesdeliberately targeted civilians and civilian objects”;“None of the Goldstone Mission’s majorfactual findings have been successfully refuted,”etc. Actually such claims have beenwidely disputed, but these arguments are notincluded.The single negative assessment—a reprintof an article by Moshe Halbertal—containsthoughtful if relatively mild criticism but is immediatelyfollowed by an attempt to discredit it.Its inclusion does not succeed in masking thebook’s overt, political agenda—to bolster thepro-BDS-delegitimize-Israel position.Ricki HollanderCAMERAIndia’s Israel Policy. By P.R. Kumaraswamy. NewYork: Columbia University Press, 2010. 376 pp.$55.India’s bilateral, under-explored relationshipwith Israel is wrapped in myths that Kumaraswamy,associate professor at JawaharlalNehru University, New Delhi, debunks in his authoritativestudy. He also answers a number ofquestions: Why did India wait for far-reachinginternational changes before modifying its policyof non-recognition toward Israel? Is there a patternin India’s new-found relationship with Israel?How relevant has the role played by thedomestic Muslim population been in shapingIndia’s Israel policy?Kumaraswamy covers the period 1920-92,dividing it into four phases: (1) India’s nationaliststruggle and an unfavorable disposition towardJewish political aspirations in Palestine;(2) the formation of the state of Israel in May1948 and Prime Minister Nehru’s assurances inMarch 1952 of normalized relations with Israel;(3) the decision in 1952 to defer recognition ofIsrael while Delhi’s attitude toward Jerusalemhardened; (4) Prime Minister P.V. NarasimhaRao’s reversal of the traditional policy and establishmentof full diplomatic relations with Israelin 1992.Kumaraswamy demonstrates the relationship’scomplexities with its public and privaterealms frequently diverging. New Delhi’s nonrecognitionof Israel in 1949 did not prevent itfrom seeking agricultural assistance from theJewish state. Nor did public denunciations ofIsrael prevent Nehru from seeking military assistancefrom David Ben-Gurion in 1962 duringthe Sino-Indian conflict. The lack of diplomaticrelations between the two countries did not preventIndia’s external intelligence arm—the Researchand Analysis Wing—from sending itspersonnel to Israel for specialized training, especiallyfollowing the assassination of IndiraGandhi in 1984.Kumaraswamy’s chronological divisionscould use some fine-tuning. As the author himselfnotes, the groundwork to establish diplomaticrelations with Israel in 1992 was prepared duringthe tenure of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi whoundertook a number of significant, conciliatoryinitiatives toward Israel. Thus the rather long thirdphase (1952-92) should perhaps have been dividedfurther.Reviews / 93

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