A meticulous, precise, well-organized survey that takes into account the many different views and will certainly facilitate...

TROUBLE IN THE TRIBE

THE AMERICAN JEWISH CONFLICT OVER ISRAEL

An examination of how American Jews’ relationship with Israel has moved from unconditional support to critical engagement.

Delving into the many divisive camps of opinion that have developed over Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories, settlements, a two-state solution, and so on, Waxman (Political Science, International Affairs, and Israel Studies/Northeastern Univ.; The Pursuit of Peace and the Crisis of Israeli Identity, 2006, etc.) explores how the American Jewish establishment is being challenged from without and within, to a productive rather than a polarizing end. The right-wing Israeli government’s unpalatable policies have galvanized much debate and ire within the American Jewish community, so much so that many rabbis in their congregations avoid discussion of Israel altogether. According to the traditional establishment, largely made up of older, Orthodox members, public criticism of Israel was taboo because it presented an appearance of disunity or weakness that Jewish enemies could exploit. Yet Waxman shows how robust criticism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not new, although often stifled—e.g., the demonization of the Zionist group Breira in the 1970s, which urged negotiation with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Currently, however, the disenchantment over Israel’s policies have grown, as has the public outrage, which has been led by a younger, non-Orthodox cohort whose emphasis is on concerns of social justice and the environment—as evidenced by the growth of the Washington organization J Street, a group that is still often ostracized by the mainstream. Waxman looks at the surprisingly diverse makeup of American Jews, who still have a strong emotional attachment to Israel yet do not necessarily support the political actions of its government. The author dissects the so-called “Jewish lobby,” which is considered as indomitable as the gun lobby but is actually no longer speaking with one voice. In the end, Waxman regards the American Jewish relationship toward Israel as evolving rather than eroding.

A meticulous, precise, well-organized survey that takes into account the many different views and will certainly facilitate the heated conversation.

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-691-16899-9

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Princeton Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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