Tag Archives: Middle East

Brokers of Deceit: Examining America’s Role in the Middle-East

Brokers of Deceit HC

By Rashid Khalidi, author of Brokers of Deceit (Beacon Press, March 2013).

I served as an advisor to the Madrid and Washington Palestinian-Israeli negotiations from 1991-1993, and long wanted to use documents that I collected then, but I never found an opportunity to do so. Then the research of one my graduate students on American Middle East policy revealed a trove of newly declassified American and Israeli materials that cast a fascinating light on what I had experienced in the early 1990’s. Together with my observations on the Obama administration’s failures in dealing with the Palestine issue, it inspired me to write this short book. This is not a comprehensive history of US Middle East policy, or of US policy on Palestine. Instead, it focuses on three “moments:” one is the period 1978-82, another is the 1991-93 negotiations, and the third is the last two years of Obama’s first term. I saw that the specific patterns of US bias in favor of inflexible Israeli positions that we had seen in our negotiations with the Israelis were precisely mirrored in earlier administrations, and that little or nothing has changed under this president.

The book addresses some of the common distortions of language that are so prevalent where the Palestine issue is concerned in Israeli-American official and media discourse. I deal with corrupted terms like “peace process,” “Palestinian autonomy,” “Israeli security,” and “terrorism,” all of which in this parlance have a heavily loaded meaning. I thus am challenging both those who use these terms in policy-making, political discourse and the media, and the vast literature that reproduces them without critical analysis of what they actually mean. As I suggest in the book, this is truly Orwellian, and this corrupt language has a profound impact on reality. Continue reading

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Israel-Palestine: A Binary Fallacy

HOW TO UNDERSTAND ISRAEL IN 60 DAYS OR LESS by Sarah Glidden

by Sarah Glidden, author of How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less (Vertigo, 2011)

When I used to think about growing as a person, I visualized my life as a sort of graph: a steadily climbing, sometimes dipping line that would crawl forward over time until a certain age when the graph would plateau into a stable flatness. The way I looked at it, one’s teens and early 20s are all about discovering who you are and what you think about the world. At some point, all my opinions, beliefs, and values would become fixed into a solid identity that I would carry with me into the future like an amber shield.

This fantasy carried over into the way I approached other topics, such as history and politics. I had been interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for some time but felt fatigued by it; I was itching to just figure it out and then move on. I was familiar with the “two sides” of the conflict in American discourse. Conservatives blamed the Palestinians, calling them “terrorists” and “monsters,” while liberals maintained that the Israelis were occupiers and thus the real monsters. While I had always identified more with the latter camp, there was something unsettling to me about defining a conflict as a struggle of “good vs. evil.” I wanted to truly understand the mess in the Middle East. I had read plenty on the subject, had gone to lectures, and had watched many documentaries. The only step left was to visit the country to see it with my own eyes. The finish line was in Jerusalem somewhere, and all I had to do was to get there. Continue reading

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Kristof’s NYT piece, “Divorced Before Puberty”

I AM NUJOOD, AGED 10 AND DIVORCED

This week, in New York Times Op-Ed piece, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Nicholas D. Kristof, who is also co-author of Half of the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide (Knopf, 2009), talks about an amazing new book, I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (Three Rivers Press, 2010).

In the book, the now 12-year old Nujood from Yemen recounts her life story, which involved being married off at the age of 10 to a man in his 30’s, and then courageously seeking to escaping this marriage by getting a divorce.

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced is already a bestseller in several countries, and is now available in the States in a paperback format. 

To have a free copy of this book sent to you, simply read the NYT article and book excerpt , then add your reactions and comments to this post to this and email us with your request.  Please be sure to include your full school mailing address.

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Why You’re Wrong About the Crusades

LOST TO THE WEST by Lars Brownworth

by Lars Brownworth, author of  Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization (Crown, 2009).

There are few words as controversial—or as misunderstood—as ‘crusade’.  Those who doubt that need only remember nine years ago when President George W. Bush casually used it to describe the War on Terror.  The ensuing firestorm caused frantic verbal backpedaling, and resulted in the President spending the next seven years repeatedly explaining that he was not waging a war against Islam. 

Yet for all the disbelief and outrage, most people today know only a few basic ‘facts’ about the Crusades.  They are largely regarded as an exercise in hypocrisy, an unprovoked assault into the Middle East by an expansionist West.  Goaded on by the Pope, the knights of Europe sewed crosses onto their shirts and smashed their way into Jerusalem, committing horrendous atrocities in the name of a supposedly peaceful religion.  The shocking events traumatized the Islamic world, poisoning relations and leading many Muslims to conclude that the West—and Christianity in particular—was out to destroy them.  The chance for peaceful co-existence was lost, and it has been war ever since. 

Like so many popularly accepted storylines, this one depends on a short view of history.  Continue reading

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Do We Live in a Borderless World?

The Second World by Parag Khanna

The Second World by Parag Khanna

Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers Are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-first Century, delivered a fascinating talk at this past summer’s TED Conference. 

At the crux of his speech, and the book, is a rejection of the notion of a borderless world ruled only by First World powers, and a re-examination of other growing hot spots and spheres of influence that we ignore at our peril.

Do we live in a borderless world?  If not, is creating a borderless world a noble goal, for that matter, even attainable?

You may view the video by clicking here, and then share your thoughts with us by posting a comment. 

To the visit the author’s website, click here.  You may also follow Parag via Twitter @paragkhanna.

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