A newspaperman’s sharp focus and beveled prose lend emotional power to this debate.

CAN ISRAEL SURVIVE?

A great admirer of Israel’s self-realization sees inherent contradiction and impending disaster.

Washington Post columnist Cohen walks readers through Israel’s history of enormous accomplishment and unlikely creation and concludes that its survival is tenuous. Emerging as “the product of history’s most murderous century,” Israel was an “honest mistake,” Cohen wrote in a 2006 column—by which he meant that its creation was not a fault but a naïve dream to think that it would be accepted nestled among hostile neighbors resentful of its success and bent on its destruction. Cohen looks at some of the essential facts propelling Israel’s creation: The “crushing affliction” of being a Jew that founder Theodor Herzl wrote about in 1880s Vienna would not go away by converting; instead, it culminated in relentless anti-Semitism and pogroms and underscored his dictum that the greater the concentration of Jews, the more anti-Semitism. While the Holocaust provided the powerful impetus for the creation of Israel, Cohen reminds us of the anti-Jewish fever that occurred before and after—e.g., in America, where his own ancestors migrated from Poland in the early 1920s. Ironically, considering the forces against Israel, even militant Jewish leaders like Ze’ev Jabotinsky, father of what became the right-wing Likud party, did not advocate for “ethnic cleansing” of the Palestinians; instead, a defensive strategy Jabotinsky called an “iron wall” was erected, all hinging, presciently, on “the Arabs’ relationship to Zionism.” Moreover, considering its hostile ethnic minority, displacement of the imperiled Mizrahi community (Jews in Arab lands), growing numbers of ultraorthodox and global indifference (in the United States, “more than half of all Jews marry a non-Jew”), Israel “has run out of purpose.”

A newspaperman’s sharp focus and beveled prose lend emotional power to this debate.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1416575689

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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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 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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