Review: The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine

The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine by Nathan Thrall

MY RATING: 5/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Free Review Copy from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers Program (in exchange for an honest review)

REVIEW: When undertaking the negotiations of, or simply reading about, the long-standing Arab-Israeli conflict, everyone becomes aware of how influences within and beyond the borders of the Middle East become a party to the issue. “The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine by Nathan Thrall, investigates the dynamics of these relationships and how they influence outcomes. His thesis establishes the element of force as core to achieving change, regardless of country and/or organization. “Compromise on each side has been driven less by the promise of peace than the aversion of pain…not limited to bloodshed. Economic sanctions, boycotts, threats, unarmed protests, and other forms of confrontation have been just as important in bringing about ideological concessions and territorial withdrawals. “Force” in this broader sense has, sadly, proved the only language “they” understand” (2).

Mr. Thrall explained the suppressive aspect(s) of the Oslo Accords, despite not being viewed that way by international courts because “the agreements” maintained a status quo. He made the reader think differently about the Camp David Accords, the Oslo Accords, Madrid Conference of 1991 and other related conference outcomes. I had viewed them as a tremendous amount of beneficial progress toward peace in the Middle East–especially after reading “The Path to Geneva: The Quest for a Permanent Solution, 1996-2003,” by Yossi Beilin. At the time of Beilin’s work, great achievements were made; but, in the long-run, it looked like situations eroded. To truly understand the making of each stage of agreements, readers needed more knowledge of the context, language, and time-frame in which the agreements were reached, and Nathan Thrall did an excellent job of covering those details along with some over-arching themes in support of his thesis:

*Intifadas, wars, terrorism, and other aggressions.
*Exporting the Holocaust to the Palestine Mandate.
*Zionism and the diaspora.
*Revisionist history and racism.
*Corruption.
*Frameworks for peace and statehood.
*Foreign powers and positioning.
*Decision making processes: short-term versus long-term reality.
*Periphery Doctrine effectivity.
*Collaborations between Palestinians and Israelis.
*America’s role the in the peace process: mediator or trouble-maker?

The author made it easy to recognize how themes played out repeatedly and ultimately existed as a form of force. He also made the reader ponder intelligent, though likely unpopular and uncomfortable, questions: Would the diaspora have survived without a separate Jewish state? Who truly had the right to promise Palestine to the Jewish people? Did America need to be involved in this peace process? Did the parties squander their opportunities to reach a two-state solution? Did some of the Palestinian leadership carry responsibility for continued nationlessness and some of the harm to their people? Was the author pro-Israel or in favor of the Palestinians? Ultimately, there was no denying that the author did a phenomenal job in supporting his thesis while writing a very interesting, fact-filled, thought-provoking book. Nathan Thrall’s “ The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine ” enveloped a highly-recommendable read that earned a well-deserved five-star rating.

ARC Reveal: The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine

cvr_The Only Language They Understand- Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine by Nathan ThrallThe Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine by Nathan Thrall

FTC NOTICE: Free Review Copy via LibraryThing Early Reviewers

BOOK INFO
*Genre: Political Science
*Published by Metropolitan Books (April, 2017)
*320-336 pages
*ISBN: 1627797092 / 9781627797092

CONTENTS
(Pages ix-x)
*Forcing Compromise
*Domination: Israeli Conquest and Its Justifications
*Collaboration: Easing Occupation as a Failed Strategy of Ending It
*Confrontation: Palestinian Pressure and Its Limits
*Negotiation: Political Horizons, and Other Euphemisms for False Hope

AUTHOR HIGHLIGHTS
*Analyst and Commentator: Arab-Israeli Conflict
*Senior Analyst: International Crisis Group
*Regular Contributor: The New York Review of Books
*Regular Contributor: The London Review of Books
*Regular Contributor: The New York Times

Review: Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran

Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran by Jerome R. Corsi

MY RATING: 2/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Purchased Book.

REVIEW: I always admired people who supported Israel, and I believed that Dr. Jerome R. Corsi meant well when he wrote, “Why Israel Can’t Wait: The Coming War Between Israel and Iran.” His intentions were certainly as praise-worthy as his high level of formal education (PhD.), extensive work experience and vast knowledge. However, this piece did not sufficiently achieve his stated goals; the first of which began with addressing the Islamic Republic of Iran.

“Prior to the June 12 (2009) election, Iran expert Michael Ledeen of the “Foundation for the Defense of Democracies” claimed Mousavi was not a revolutionary but rather “a leader who has been made into a revolutionary by a movement that grew up around him” (14).  “But the impression in the United States that Mousavi was a reformist is entirely wrong” (14)..the real revolutionary is Mousavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, and the real question is why Ayatollah Khamenei allowed her to be positioned that way in the 2009 presidential election” (14). This was an excellent question, one which led specifically to the “regime change” discussion, seemingly regardless of who won the election.

However, during Iran’s 2009 post-election protests, Obama possibly missed an opportunity for regime change, according to Dr. Corsi. My issue with that specific point rested in the fact that the United States conducted a coup d’état in the 1950s with its overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected Mohammad Mossaddeq, which restored Mohammed Reza Pahlavi to his thrown. (“Patriot of Persia: Mohammad Mossadegh and a Tragic Anglo-American Coup” by Christopher De Bellaigue served as a biographical account of the aging Prime Minister and devout oil nationalist, though its not my favorite account). The regime change gave the appearances that the over-throw worked. Some books that covered this topic in greater detail included: “All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror” by Stephen Kinzer; “Blood & Oil: A Prince’s Memoir of Iran, From the Shah to the Ayatollah” by Manucher Farmanfarmaian (a Qajar prince) and Roxane Farmanfarmaian, PhD.; “The Fall of Heaven: The Pahlavis and the Final Days of Imperial Iran” by Andrew Scott Cooper, PhD.; and, “The Shah” by Abbas Milani, PhD. (Research Fellow at Hoover Institution (as of this writing) and whose brother served as prime minister to the last Shah and was later assassinated by Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime).

The Shah’s status, however, became temporary, and its long-run consequences spread themselves throughout the globe with particular vitriol pointed toward the United States of America (who conducted the operation as a special favor to one of its historically favorite allies: the British). Corsi seemed to encourage another regime change, as well as additional America-driven modifications to the region, as a solution to a wide range of problems for the USA and Israel with the goal of returning stability to the greater Middle East. Central themes existed as the following:

*Iran’s 2009 post-election protests.
*Regime change dynamics.
*Nuclear weaponization: “A credible nuclear program must have three components: (1) weapons-grade enriched uranium/plutonium source; (2) Medium/Long-range missile system capable of delivering a nuclear weapons payload reliably; and, (3) technology to weaponize into a miniaturized warhead capable of being delivery (29).”
*Regional stability and hegemonic interests.
*Iran and Hamas in the Palestinian Authority.
*Arab-Israeli conflict core issues: “Netanyahu strongly disputed the contention that territory was at the start of the heart of the conflict with the Palestinians” (69).

I thought that the Arab-Israeli conflict could not simply be resolved with border issues being quelled nor re-negotiated and agreed upon by the parties as well.  in fact, Netanyahu’s statement reminded me that the root cause of the conflict was not about borders at all anyway; much of this dispute originated during the Palestine Mandate era and the trouble caused by Yasser Arafat’s uncle, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, (then “The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem”). He willingly and excitedly served as Hitler’s proxy to export Europe’s Holocaust to the Palestine Mandate making a major component of the original conflict about RACISM, RACISM, RACISM not land.  “Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam by Rabbi David G. Dalin adeptly covered this history, and I repeatedly recommended this book to encourage others to view the history of “The Conflict” with either more knowledge or a different perspective than that of a land-grab. As far as said conflict goes, until the parties can agree that their negotiations for specific sessions or summits are on a focused few (ideally one at a time) topics, then no positive movement toward peace can truly be achieved.

While Dr. Corsi did an excellent job of detailing why the Arab-Israeli Conflict could not be simply resolved with the resolution of land boundaries, it seemed that the rest of the book was slammed together and utilized hyperbole. He shared some interesting information and uncommonly-known revelations; but, the work did not really contain anything new (even for its publication time). I wished that the author had shared greater context and perspective.  The piece contained choppiness in its going back-and-forth while trying to put the reader in a constant panic with sweeping generalizations. I felt greatly disappointed that the closing statement under the subchapter name (which mimicked the book’s title) “Why Israel Can’t Wait” led to nothing more than two mini-paragrphs, each containing two sentences. Its over-simplicity revealed incoherence, causing the overall product to present itself as nothing more than than an rushed-to-publish “Op-Ed” in lieu of a quality piece of literature that the author historically-supported reputation provided.

Review: A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation

cvr_a-new-voice-for-israel-fighting-for-the-survival-of-the-jewish-nation-by-jeremy-ben-amiA New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation by Jeremy Ben-Ami

MY RATING: 3/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Purchased Book

REVIEW: The first half of “A New Voice for Israel: Fighting for the Survival of the Jewish Nation,” by Jeremy Ben-Ami, seemed to have a good energy to it and began with an intriguing sentence: “My great-grandfather was a bootlegger, my grandfather was a card shark, and my father was a terrorist” (3). This thesis statement served as the lead-in for the author’s family history as well as providing great historical information on the Russian pogroms and how European Jewry immigrated to Palestine.

Challenges to immigration and Israeli statehood were covered with the concept of a two-state solution being core to the original plan for the former area of Palestine. The plan changed due to war and other dynamics; and, the author contended that “the roots of today’s conflict lie not in ancient religious hatred but in the clash of national aspirations of two peoples unfortunate enough to stake a claim to the same small piece of land. Their subsequent struggle for land, resources and control echoes other global conflicts that have been successfully resolved” (80).

While the text started in a realistic manner, it seemed to dissolve into a collection of generalizations and over-simplified ideas. The reader came to the conclusion that the purpose of the book was solely to address the President of the United States versus convincing an American public (or any other audience) of the strategies necessary to achieve a two-state solution in order to bring the Arab-Israeli conflict to an end and achieve peace in the Middle East (as though the entire region’s stability depended solely upon the two-state solution!). The book held so much promise but culminated in a disappointing position.

Review: Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror

cvr_now-they-call-me-infidel-why-i-renounced-jihad-for-america-israel-and-the-war-on-terrorNow They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, by Nonie Darwish

MY RATING: 4/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Library Book

REVIEW: The beginning of this review yields to a much favorable position as it progresses. “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror” ends much better than it starts, and it is the first book for which I considered punctuation, paragraph transitions, and chapter allocations to be a signification part of a review. It is not enjoyable to have to do a drill-down on how a book is edited, but it is the poor editing of this book that originally lowered my rating of the text. Had it not been for the subject matter combined with both the intent and voice of the author, this book would have received a one-star rating and placed on my “discards” shelf. It is with the aforementioned in mind that I wish to touch on the most blatant things that have been considered in my review.

Mis-use (or lack thereof in some cases) of punctuation made this book a challenging read…so difficult, in fact, that I opted to see which company published it. The publisher was Penguin Books, and one would expect a higher caliber editing job from such a well-established entity. Several sentences had to be re-read, and I imagined punctuation in other parts of them in order to understand what the author wished to convey. It was amazing how significantly a comma changed the meaning of a sentence! Flow of ideas from one paragraph to another consistently lacked cohesion, making it choppy and challenging to follow a storyline. Ideas that clearly belonged in separate chapters created pause for the reader because I didn’t always understand their placement within the context of a specific part of Nonie Darwish’s story.

It was Ms. Darwish’s voice and intent that pushed me to read further. The disjointed details of early parts of the book finally came together enough to understand her over-arching theme: radical Islam is born overseas and is becoming homegrown in the USA; these people are very determined and will do anything to destroy anyone/anything that they consider to be of infidel nature. The author’s history, as well as that of her native Egypt, were detailed so that the reader could understand and appreciate Darwish’s political, humanitarian, and moral positions. She emphasized how thankful she was to have become an American and that her sentiment was an atypical one. People she once knew as moderate Muslims had become radicals once they arrived in America. The author explained that it was not unusual to find professional students (ie: a student of 12 years without a degree) that had become leaders of Muslim Student Associations and were backed by Saudi oil money to stay on college campuses; and, they were (are) using the universities as conversion centers for jihadism.

The author expressed a deep amount of respect for people of other nationalities, cultures, and faiths and made it clear that radical Islam demonstrates no tolerance nor respect for anything outside of itself and very little variation within its religion. The reading of “Now They Call Me Infidel” definitely required persistence. What pushed the rating of this book up to a 4-star one was the fact that the author made me want to learn more about the topics she addressed. If you put down this book because you found it unreadable, I ask that you consider making another attempt at reading it; once you are well into the text, everything eventually makes sense. It offers a solid education that cannot be ignored.