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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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