Book Review ~~ THE IDEA OF ISRAEL: A HISTORY OF POWER AND KNOWLEDGE

If you are an Israeli and are a product of the Israeli education system, especially under the age of 40, read this book.
If you are a Jewish-American and have been blindly consuming your institutional, mainstream “idea of Israel,” read this book.
If you are a U.S. lawmaker, writing the annual checks to Israel and playing jack-in-the-box every time the Israeli prime minister speaks in the Congress, read this book.
If you are a Palestinian who thinks Israelis are not worth engaging because they all know the history, read this book.

 


On THE IDEA OF ISRAEL
By Sam Bahour
This book will go down in history as a monumental recording of the Israeli History Industry for generations to come. At its core, the book is a snapshot into a decade of inner Israeli dynamics, from 1990 to 2000, when the basic assumptions that Israel propagated for decades about how the ‘miracle’ of Israel came into being started to be challenged. The history of how this decade was reached is as fascinating as how horrific has been its aftermath.

Except for its last chapter, this book is not for everyone. Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, takes the reader through the maze of knowledge creation in Israel and how that journey has interacted with power. The invaluable intellectual contribution and framing that Professor Pappe provides cannot be overstated. He documents for all serious researchers who follow how the dust (or more like blood) of Israel’s foundational moment has yet to settle.

The events in and around 1948 that led to the creation of Israel and the colossal loss of Palestine were such a historic tragedy that even the well-oiled Israeli and Zionist public relations machines have been unable get traction to settle the historic account.

In today’s messy and distracted world, those who write (or for that matter, make films and movies, produce theater and art, compose music, write poetry, and the like) frequently have a moment when they question the value of their creative works. Well, Professor Pappe makes it abundantly clear where all these creative works fall in the bigger picture and why it is of utmost importance that we never lose sight that every progressive act of creativity which speaks truth to power is a data point towards rectifying the injustices of the world.

When the injustice is the source of a nation’s creation, the process of correction is excruciatingly slow, but inevitable if strategically addressed.
The last chapter of The Idea of Israel is titled, “Brand Israel 2013”. This is a brief but shockingly telling account of how much money and brain power Israel is willing to dump into a bottomless bucket while trying to force feed a fabrication into mainstream knowledge. The notion of actually correcting the historic mistakes, any of them, is not even considered.

As I noted above, the book is not for everyone;
If you are an Israeli and are a product of the Israeli education system, especially under the age of 40, read this book.
If you are a Jewish-American and have been blindly consuming your institutional, mainstream “idea of Israel,” read this book.

If you are a U.S. lawmaker, writing the annual checks to Israel and playing jack-in-the-box every time the Israeli prime minister speaks in the Congress, read this book.
If you are a Palestinian who thinks Israelis are not worth engaging because they all know the history, read this book.
My hat is off, again, to Professor and friend, Ilan Pappe, for an invaluable contribution to peace with justice.
Happy purposeful reading.
The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge
By Ilan Pappe
Publisher: Verso (January 2014)

Judging Books by Their Covers


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While in Palestine I visited over a dozen libraries and archives, and got to take a look at an entire world of books that was previously unknown to me. One of the things that really jumped out at me was the creative use of the spines on multi-volume sets. For a large number of collections of poetry, legal documents, and religious books, there is a tradition of creating beautiful and intricate titling sequences that across the spines of multiple books, sometimes up to 20 or 25. I took quick point-and-shoot photos of fifteen of these sets so I could share them with you here on the blog. Unfortunately I don't have much more info about these books, as I don't read Arabic and there is little in English about the Arab-language publishing industry and traditions. But maybe some of you out there have more info? Send it along if you do!
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And here are some flash transliterations from my co-delegates to Palestine, Elisabet and Blair:
1. Sunan Ibn Majah
2. Kamil fi al-Tarikh (Ibn al-Athir)
3. al-Mughni al-Sharh al-Kabir (al-Maqdisi)
4. Tabaqat al-kubra (Ibn Sa'ad)
5. Lisan al-Arab (Ibn Manzur)
6. Mu'jam al-buldan (Ya'qut al-Hanawi)
7. Kashf al-Zunun (Haji Khalifah)
8.Tarikh al-hadarat al-Aam
9. Shams al-Ulum (al-Himyari)
10. Jami al-masanid wa-al-sunan (al-Safi'i)
11. al-Targhib wa-al-Tarhib (Abd al-Azim ibn Abd al-Qawi al-Mundhiri)
12. Qissat Tarikh al-Hadarat al-Arabiyah
13. al-Hawi al-Kabir (al-Shafi'i)
14. al-Sunan al-Kubra (al-Bayhaqi)
15. Jami al-Ahadith al-Kabir (Suyuti)
She says they are all famous classics in a variety of subjects.



Posted July 22, 2013 by jmacphee in Judging Books by Their Covers