INTIMATE ENEMIES

JEWS AND ARABS IN A SHARED LAND

A rambling but occasionally insightful study of the political, economic, and psychological dynamics between Israeli Jews and Palestinian and Israeli Arabs, particularly during the period between the Temple Mount Massacre (Oct. 1990) and the Rabin-Arafat handshake at the White House (Sept. 1993). Benvenisti, Jerusalem's former deputy mayor (197178) and currently a columnist for the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, has very critical things to say about both sides of the conflict. He faults Israel for practicing a kind of malign neglect of Palestinian economic and political needs, for repeatedly trying to internationalize what he feels is inescapably an intercommunal conflict (e.g., by playing the ``Jordanian option'' when dealing directly with the Palestinians has seemed too fruitless or exasperating), and favoring the structurally unachievable goal of separation of the two communities. As for the Palestinians, besides geopolitical misjudgments culminating in support for Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War and Arafat's apparent fiscal corruption and political heavy-handedness toward internal opponents, Benvenisti feels they mistakenly view the conflict as an anticolonialist struggle, such as that of the Algerians against the French during the 1950s. He raises the possible solution of an ``Israel/Palestine'' confederation that ``combines ethnic and cultural separation within a common geopolitical framework on the basis of national equality and a clear definition of the rights and obligations of the two ethnic components.'' But given each community's ties to a diaspora, the sharp economic inequality between, their very different political traditions, and a long history of enmity, such a confederation seems utterly unrealistic for the foreseeable future. But then, the history of the Israeli- Arab conflict is anything but predictable. It's clear how knowledgeable and passionately engaged he is in his subject, but Benvenisti's overly academic style and lack of historical and anecdotal material makes this book less appealing than other recent works on the conflict. (2 maps, not seen)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-520-08567-1

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1995

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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