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Book Reviews ...

Reviewed: The Case Against Israel by Michael Neumann
Review by: James Generic
Posted: 5.17.2006

A huge issue in our times and our world has been the injustice of an the Palestinians and Israelis. It is not an easy issue, either, in America, where there is a large Jewish population. Many Jewish radicals come from families who whole-heartily support Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and are used to being named as self-hating Jews. They are often torn between their own experience of growing up in a predominantly Christian nation as well as being apart of a people who have been persecuted mightily throughout the world, and that experience being used by Israel to justify their imperialist activities in the Middle East. Indeed, American Jews have been known to unquestionably support the actions of the Israeli government even more than Israelis themselves, who are more torn into different viewpoints. This is the experience this book, "The Case Against Israel", was written from, as the author, Michael Neumann, is a Jewish professor, who in the introduction states he has never been incredibly pro-Palestinian, teaching Philosophy at Trent University in Ontario, Canada (close enough to America.)

It is also a touchy subject, because one certainly does not want to be accused of anti-Semitism as a non-Jew. I am not Jewish, making it difficult for me to get involved in this discussion without being shut-down as simply "not understanding the plight of the Jews" as has been said to me. The book, however, is a step-by step logical and moral counter to the arguments of Zionism and the government of Israel. It proceeds in a very calm but very encompassing style. The charge of anti-semitism is covered early in the book, noting that Israel does not represent all Jews and therefore it is not anti-semitic to criticize Israel, especially since the largest population of Jews lives in the United States and not in Israel.

The book is divided into two sections. The first is the argument against the ideology of Zionism, which is grounded in the pre-1947 founding of Israel. Neumann makes the point of stating the incredibly colonialist and imperialist nature of settling European Jews in any land, and arguing that the Zionist leadership saw the people of Palestine as non-existant or undeserving of the land, since Jews had lived there millennium before them (which is countered by stating that no one is really native of anywhere, since people existed in Palestine before even the ancient Israelites did.) He also makes the point that the Zionist movement leadership manipulated many poor Jews to move in the stead of more wealthy Jews. Following the horrific holocaust by Nazi Germany, the Zionist leadership actually placed fleeing Jews in even more danger by having them go to Palestine, where war was brewing between Palestinian people losing their land and the incoming settlers and refugees.

The second part of the book recognizes that after the 1967 war, Israel was in no more danger of being "driven into the sea", and therefore the shift of the Zionist ideology came to be supporting Israeli drives to take more land in Palestine. Many will argue that Israel must maintain its occupation to protect itself against Arab attack, and that is easily countered by stating the fact that Israel has not faced a united Arab world, which is itself sort of a fantasy, in a very long time. Indeed, the utter destitution that the Palestinians face as being permanent refugees in their own land leaves them with little choice but to resist, since it is the natural human need to resist attempts at bodily destruction of one's self and close ones. Logically, one cannot morally support the Jewish settlements which are funded by Israel and US tax aid.

There are many more arguments used by Israel's defenders which are refuted in a systematic rational manner within this book. A quick and enjoyable read, it is mainly based in Philosophy and sound arguments, and the author refuses to become emotionally overdrawn in any argument. For anyone with an interest in the Israel-Palestine conflict, this book is an absolute must read, since it carries some essential basic concepts and arguments that are so simple they are powerful, impossible for anyone with any sense of moral justice to ignore.

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