Scoop Review of Books

Ode to a Foreskin

SRB Picks of the Week 23 May 08
:By Jeremy Rose

Collectors of obscure Wellington poetry collections may remember a book by Israeli historian Benny Morris’s father, Ya’acov. It was published shortly before the end of Ya’acov’s term as Israeli ambassador to New Zealand in the 1980s. Truth be told the verse wasn’t that memorable but it contained an ode to one of my school-mate’s foreskin that’s kind of hard to forget.

Jonathan had fallen in love with Morris’s daughter, converted to Judaism and become an ardent Labour-Zionist. The last time I saw him was in 1984 at a newly formed kibbutz in the North of Israel. The relationship with Morris’s daughter had collapsed and, besides the odd nostalgic thought of “Kiwi girls,” he seemed happy with his decision to take up his “right of return” and settle in Israel.

I was reminded of Jonathan – and his sacrificial foreskin – when I stumbled across this Democracy Now Radio interview with Benny Morris, Palestinian Saree Makdisi and Holocaust scholar and Israel critic Norman Finkelstein.

Morris expands on his comments of two or three years ago to Ha’aretz that Ben Gurion’s biggest mistake was not pushing all the Palestinians out of the the West Bank. The interview came as a shock to many, as Morris was largely responsible for shattering the traditional Israeli historiography that held the 750,000 Palestinian refugees had left at the bidding of their leadership (convinced they would be returning after the Jews were pushed into the sea.)

The world’s media has been full of accounts of Israel at 60 and the plight of Palestinians six decades after the Nakba – or catastrophe. Here’s three very different takes on the celebration/commemorations.

The Spectator
The San Diego Union Tribune
Asia Times
Alex Cockburn’s View from a Crusader Castle.

And it seems I’m not the only one to remember Ya’acov’s verse. Poet Ross Nepia Himona has this intriguing poem on-line with its mentions of “Selling guns for Zion” and “not buying your Uzi’s”

Stalin biographer Simon Sebag-Montefiore rejected the idea that Israel could be compared to one of the crusader states during his interview with Kim Hill last week. And he may be right but if this next link is anything to go by there’s plenty of people in the US military who think the crusades are an ongoing enterprise. Holy Warriors in the US Armed Forces.

I’m a fan of Noam Chomksy’s major work on Israel The Fateful Triangle and so went looking for anything he might have written on the 60th anniversary – without any luck. But I did find this piece on the importance of 1968.

His old friend Howard Zinn, who I had always thought of as a Marxist (due to his having written a play about the late economist) has an interesting piece on why he’s an anarchist.

And to make it up to a troika of leftwing, Jewish intellectuals, here’s Naomi Klein on China’s “Market Stalinism.”

Fans of Mad Magazine’s Little Annie Fanny will be sad to hear that her creator Will Elder has passed on to the great comic book in the sky.

Jeremy Rose is the editor of the Scoop Review of Books and a Wellington journalist.

1 comment:

  1. Saint Michael Traveler, 23. May 2008, 9:36

    One Nation: The Federal State of Israel-Palestine

    We have had 60 years of experimenting about the Israeli- Palestinian struggle. The region would need help before we will be dragged into a World War III.

    The Ten Lost Tribes of Israel were resettled in 722 B.C. in Iran. Assyria, the nation that is now Iraq, took the 10 tribes captive and relocated them in Iran (historic Persia). Iranian Jews are descendent of these exiled tribes. Their exile is a historical fact. Often, the people defeated were scattered and exiled. Judah and Benjamin, two tribes later known as the Jews, claim Israel as their as their ancient homeland.

    Jews and the Palestinians, whatever they were called then, were both in Middle East at the same time. Both Arabs and Jews have historical claims to the Palestine land.

    No one can reject the fact that creation of Israel on the Palestinian land has created tremendous political and economical problems for the United States and the world. World (the United Nation) may have to look outside of the box to diffuse the problems.

    One solution would be for Israel joining us as a member of the Unites States’ Common Wealth. The United States are already supporting Israel economically, politically and by sharing intelligence and military hardware. In addition, some Israeli Americans with both Israeli and American citizenships serve in the Israeli Armed Forces. Our great American Armed Forces will protect the common wealth as they would the homeland.

    Would it be politically more advantages for the United States to manage the Jewish state as a member of our Common Wealth?

    The Israeli Common Wealth will be free to exercise the religious freedom that our great nation would offer without being isolated among the hostile Arabs.

    The Common Wealth would have to include the Arabs who were forced to leave the land when Zionist invaded the land. It should also include all of the land called by Palestinian as their homeland and by Israeli as their state. I don’t suggest this proposal would work or be acceptable by Israel. In my opinion, this may be more destructive for the USA and would not help the Middle Eastern conflict in the future.

    Then, what next?

    Would really two nation model for Palestinian and Israeli work in the future? Many experts on the Middle Eastern politics and people would suggest that a two state solution in not viable model. We have struggled with it for nearly 60 years.

    Should we be looking at the region as a Federal States with one government elected by all of the people? This model may have a much better chance of survival as a solution for both Israeli and Arabs.

    We have been forced into one box by the Israeli Lobby; we need to look outside of this box. We can’t fight wars after wars to support a non-working model of a two state solution. We can’t afford war after war to support a failed two state model.

    Both Jewish and Palestinians have paid a high price for a failed system to consider the human side of the Israeli-Jewish struggle for a lasting peace.

    I suggest that only as one nation, Federal State of Israel-Palestine, the peace may endure. We, Americans, have failed to see the both side of the struggle for a lasting peace. The two cousins may have to kiss and forgive for all the hurt they have caused and endured.