I'm enjoying this book, but there's far too many topics covered for me to consider sitting down and reading it straight through like I do most other b...moreI'm enjoying this book, but there's far too many topics covered for me to consider sitting down and reading it straight through like I do most other books. Instead, I'm reading different chapters at different times.(less)
While some of the perspectives in this book are interesting, the statistical analyses described in many of the studies have been less impressive. A li...moreWhile some of the perspectives in this book are interesting, the statistical analyses described in many of the studies have been less impressive. A linear regression model can be great when the data meet the requirements, but a) it rarely, if ever, establishes causality on its own; b) using a series of regression analyses to identify the most important explanatory variables is an extremely cumbersome and error-prone approach to something that could be achieved much more expediently and clearly with an hierarchical, ordination, cluster, discriminant, or canonical correlation model; and c) a Bayesian approach should be considered when your number of data points is in the single digits.(less)
Kovel, who was formerly a psychiatrist and is now a professor of sociology, brings unique insight into the Zionist psyche and its role in contemporary...moreKovel, who was formerly a psychiatrist and is now a professor of sociology, brings unique insight into the Zionist psyche and its role in contemporary Israel. According to Kovel, Zionism is a reactionary ideology that rejects universalism and attempts to legitimate Israel's exceptionalism by invoking primitive tribalism. Kovel demonstrates how the Zionist movement has exploited the horrors of the Shoah (Holocaust) to serve its own ends and how its adherents have identified themselves with the Nazi aggression that so many suffered by brutalizing the indigenous peoples who stand in the way of the Zionist vision of an ethnically pure "Jewish state." The consciences of many Jewish citizens of Israel and around the world have been seared by the violence and inhumanity employed in pursuit of the Zionist vision, argues Kovel, which has created in some a hypersensitivity to criticism that he calls a "bad conscience." The way that the sacred traditions have been blasphemed to serve the "Jewish State" has compounded this condition. The state of Israel, in relentless pursuit of the Zionist vision, has become a de facto apartheid state, similar in many (but not all) ways to South Africa before the rise of the African National Congress. Kovel includes accounts of instances where Zionist racism has extended beyond the indigenous Arabs, and has targeted other Jews in the European Ashkenazi Jews' treatment of Sephardi Jews from Africa and the Middle East. Kovel predicts that Zionism, as long as it dominates the actions of Israeli rulers, will continue to feed the cycle of violence and hatred, ultimately to the detriment of Israel and its countless victims. He suggests that the best way to prevent the further escalation of violence is for the international community and Israeli people to recognize the primitive tribalism and racial hatred inherent in Zionism and counter its propaganda with a universal ideology that recognizes the humanity of people from every race, religion, and tribe. For this to happen, Zionism's pervasive influence in both the US and Israeli governments must be recognized, as well as the ways in which its ideology has been prostituted to modern capitalism. The implementation of a humane ideology would extend beyond an end to the occupation and an agreement on a two-state settlement, and would require a restructuring of the Israeli state as a safe and truly democratic homeland for Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all other peoples. Kovel names this new theoretical state "Palesreal" for now, but suggests that a more appropriate name may arise in the transition. Unequivocally, Kovel contends that Israel does not have any "right to exist" in its present form, but that it should be reconstituted as an egalitarian state that recognizes the common humanity of all its citizens.(less)
Sharon Smith's "Subterranean Fire" reviews the history of the labor movement from the late 1800s to the second Bush's administration. Smith's work off...moreSharon Smith's "Subterranean Fire" reviews the history of the labor movement from the late 1800s to the second Bush's administration. Smith's work offers valuable insight into the trends that shaped the rise of unions near the beginning of the twentieth century and the factors that contributed to their ongoing decline. She also presents a more complete picture of the working class' struggles, and points out the persistence of rank-and-file activists even during periods of apparent retreat by large unions like the AFL-CIO and the Teamsters. The picture that results is one of a recurring cycle of repression and rebellion, where the ruling class increasingly exploits and intimidates the working class until it eventually pushes to far, and the workers begin to organize and fight back. Smith also reviews the various tactics that the ruling class has used to contain these rebellions, such as the anti-Communist hysteria that followed the second world war, the efforts by the Democratic Party to capture and contain the momentum driving popular progressive movements, and contemporary efforts to use fearmongering and the threat of terrorism to further expand repression and distrust and curtail the right to organize and resist further exploitation. She concludes by describing the crisis that workers in the US, and around the world, now face: either working people in the US continue to allow the ruling class to divide them against each other by nationality, gender, sexuality, and race until their living standards fall to those of a "third-world" nation, or they reverse the balance of class forces by uniting in solidarity in the fight to raise the living standards of the poorest workers at home and around the world.(less)
This is an excellent book that gives a comprehensive account of a wide range of theories on economic development in the Global South and the strengths...moreThis is an excellent book that gives a comprehensive account of a wide range of theories on economic development in the Global South and the strengths and weaknesses of contending ideologies that have dominated much of the discourse. A more thorough review is forthcoming, once I have the time to write it.(less)
"Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" is a refreshing alternative to the unconditional support for Israeli aggression that has dominated Washington as far b...more"Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" is a refreshing alternative to the unconditional support for Israeli aggression that has dominated Washington as far back as I can recall. Jimmy Carter's book offers a much more honest and balanced assessment of the issues surrounding Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories than I expected from someone as deeply embedded in the political establishment as a former US president. This is probably why the Israel lobby reacted so violently to its publication and has invested so much energy into defaming the former President.
To help contextualize his presentation, Carter does the service of prefacing his text with a series of maps and a chronology of major political events in the region from ca. 2000 BCE through 2006 CE. He then introduces his primary argument, which is that the most significant impediments to peace between Palestine and Israel (including the formation of a Palestinian state) have been: Israeli theft of Palestinian land, some Arab groups refusal to accept Israel as a neighbor, the absence of a single Palestinian voice that Israel will negotiate with, objectionable preconditions by both sides to peace talks, and the US government's recent failure to make any meaningful steps toward peace. Carter then presents instances of each of these factors as he reviews the US government's role in the peace process from his administration to that of George W. Bush, as well as his assessment of the other relevant national leaders, and the cultures they ostensibly represent. Although it covers a fairly large amount of material, this book is concise and easy to read (I breezed through it in less than a day, and I tend to be a slow reader). By combining firsthand experiences and antidotes with historical accounts, the text becomes something of a narrative. I would recommend this book primarily to someone who is interested in the history of the Israeli government's settlement policies and of the negotiations between the different political authorities.(less)
Herman and Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent is by no means an easy read, as it challenges many of the assumptions that we take for granted in the U.S....moreHerman and Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent is by no means an easy read, as it challenges many of the assumptions that we take for granted in the U.S. and presents us with a disturbing portrait of our nation's foreign policies and the people who shape them. The preponderance of evidence backing Herman and Chomsky's analysis of the mainstream media lead to the inescapable conclusion that the "free press" protected by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution differs dramatically from the corporate propaganda machine we're constantly subjected to today. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who is concerned about democracy in the U.S. and around the globe.(less)