Inspired by the late Edward Said, Derek Gregory investigates the imaginary geographies that fuel current conflicts in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq...moreInspired by the late Edward Said, Derek Gregory investigates the imaginary geographies that fuel current conflicts in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq. His argument is that colonialism is not dead, but is present in the conflicts after 9/11. This may seem like an obvious thesis, but Gregory's claims about colonialism may be what is newest to the reader. He succinctly places colonialism in a context of "us vs. them"; "we" are order and "they" are the jungle. He shows how this rhetoric and colonial logic was used (non-ironically) at all levels of American/British/Israeli decision making in three separate and intertwined conflicts post 9/11. The main thrust of his argument is that individuals in occupied lands become non-humans, or homo sacer, and this gray area allows western military logic to render them in a legalistic gray area that freezes them or erases them in time. This concern about space, and the folding of space into new and oppressive geographies is what mainly adds a new urgent criticism of US/UK/Israeli policies towards their colonial "others." (less)
An incredible study of Israel's perceptions of space and how they are used in the Occupation of the Palestinian people. Weizman investigates walls, se...moreAn incredible study of Israel's perceptions of space and how they are used in the Occupation of the Palestinian people. Weizman investigates walls, settlements, IDF urban warfare tactics, terminals, and more as he unpacks the ways that space are used to oppress. He also criticizes the implicit arguments of continued "spatial" oppression from a human rights standpoint. His hope is to make transparent the infrastructures of power. A must read for a geographic and architectural perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict. (less)
An important book on an important and often avoided topic: How is the Holocaust used to justify injustice? Burg mainly argues that the inability to mo...moreAn important book on an important and often avoided topic: How is the Holocaust used to justify injustice? Burg mainly argues that the inability to move past the Holocaust (that is, the inability of the state of Israel to not compare everything to the Holocaust, or make every crisis an urgent existential threat) stymies the ability of Israel to be a "light unto the nations."
While I agree with many tenets of Burg's ideas, I'm bothered by his inability to land on the fact that the Holocaust is often used to direct Israeli policy in the Occupation, shield it from international criticism, and wage a disasterous militant foreign policy. There are moments where this peaks through - but overall, it's ironic that while he decries the crime of "holocaust denial", regarding Israel's puposeful denial of the Armenian genocide, and Israeli policy in the Balkans that ran counter to world opinion, he hardly utters the words, "Palestinian," "the Nakba," "the Occupation," and makes somewhat apologetic statements for Israeli violence. An example of this is while he is decrying Israel's inability to be the center for a humanistic Judaism, and a universalist nation, he talks about the violence of suicide bombers, terrorists, while mentioning a militant culture. It's passive enough that it seems like he's blaming the Palestinians for an inability to be humanistic as well, while showing that despite his deep reading of the racist elements of an Israeli society that claims genocide and tragedy as it's sole property, he may blame the Palestinians for their lack of a state. At least, passively, like his treatment of them throughout the book.
Maybe not, but because his shrillness that vacillates between condemnation of current Israeli policies and a love for his definition of Zionism, it's hard to peg where he lands on the issue that he doesn't dissect, but which the book is ultimately (and secretly) about. (less)
This book researches such a minority strain of history and historical theory that it is almost hard to classify this as "nonfiction." However, it is a...moreThis book researches such a minority strain of history and historical theory that it is almost hard to classify this as "nonfiction." However, it is a great, fascinating read on the alternate history of the origins of a good portion of today's Jews. The history of the c. 600-1200 AD makeup of the Caucauses is quite interesting, and Koestler teaches you a good deal about the origins of the Hungarians, the Russians, and other nations that were born of the Eastern European Steppes. The book begins to fray when Koestler playfully hypothesizes the period after the fall of the Khazar Empire, speaking about race and ethnicitity, and how that pertains to Eastern Europe's Jews.
A great read if you're comfortable with your Jewish identity, though this book can obviously be seen as heresy. Or maybe, it's just entertaining. (less)
Informative, but loses because there are no accompanying maps of Israel - Palestine or the Allon Plan, which is cited throughout. A good critical look...moreInformative, but loses because there are no accompanying maps of Israel - Palestine or the Allon Plan, which is cited throughout. A good critical look at the beginning of the settlement movement, but a terribly misleading title, which makes me suspect that the author was afraid of what the reaction to his book might be. Follows individuals but doesn't give a good overall picture of the major settlements, and only spends a few paragraphs in the epilogue talking about the current manifestation of the settlements as commuter cities. Though seemingly balanced, does not do a good job talking about how the settlements constrict Palestinian movement.
Overall a good read, but I suggest further reading to round out what you might be missing as you go through Accidental Empire. (less)