Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict

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Nation Books has published The Goldstone Report, which was already published by the United States. So why would they do that? Well, the UN document which details in unbiased straightforward documentation and eyewitness reports, details the crimes of both the Israeli military and Hamas in the Gaza Strip following Israel's decision to break the lull agreement of non-belligerency it signed with Hamas only months before. (Hamas had stopped its attacks against Israel and almost ended all rocket attacks by militants who were responding to Israel's murder of Palestinians in the West Bank during the lull. On the US election day, Israel viciously assaulted the Gaza Strip murdering scores of Palestinian civilians and engaging in a hi-tech strategy of one-sided and biased public relations and communications, ending it only on the day Barack Obama was finally sworn in as president many weeks later.)

The tragedy of the Goldstone Repport is that the extremist activists on both sides have exploited its findings to suit their own PR goals. Israeli fanatics challenged the report and even called its author, international Jewish jurist Richard Goldstone, an "anti-Semite" for daring to expose Israel's atrocities Palestinian fanatics ignored the report's conclusions that Hamas engaged in war crimes by striking out intentionally at civilian targets, too. The difference between the two terrorist assaults and the extremists is that Israel is better at achieving its goals while Hamas is basically driven by suicide and wanton assaults targeting civilians.

So the authors have decided to give the Palestinians some leverage by not only presenting the Goldstone Report in its entirety, but by backing it up with essays, some of which are enlightening and others that are the typical kind of radical expressions of anger and rantings driven by a hatred for Jews. It's troubling how no one can seem to present the report in an objective manner and this collection of typically hateful anti-Israeli and even viciously hateful assaults against the secular Palestinian government of the Palestine National Authority.

Writers like Laila el-Haddad, the extremist who closes her eyes to the violence when it is committed by her own people and screams to exaggerated heights when the victims are Palestinian. Yes, Israel's army did commit atrocities, but so did Hamas, something that el-Haddad, a strident hateful voice barks out loud. El-Haddad's only real talent is to spout hatred from her blogs, attacking other Palestinians who disagree with her extremist agenda and blindness to the terrorism of the Hamas organization.

Ali Abunimeh, the son of Palestinian aristocracy and privilege, wails about the Israelis also ignoring the actions of the Hamas terrorist organization. And in usual, ineffective narrative, rails through a history of the Palestine conflict asserting almost ridiculously that the Goldstone Report has opened up eyes of Americans to Israel's violations of human rights. Unlike el-Haddad, Abunimeh is a talented and gifted writer, though misguided and somewhat contradictory in his off and on expressions of support for compromise and support for the creation of "one state." A frequent critic whose voice helped to undermine the peace process, Abunimeh cannot see past his dislike of Israelis or recognize the failure of the Palestinian leadership, which he is a part. That leadership is as much responsible for the Palestinian tragedy giving  Israel opportunities to steal more Palestinian lands, expel more innocent Palestinians, kill Palestinian civilians (men, women, children and the elderly). Under their failed leadership, Israel has continued to annex more and more Palestinian lands, erased more and more of the Palestinian presence in historic Palestine including in the parts that are now Israel, They embrace failure but they continue to see in that failure a bastardized hope for the future that is not so much a dream but a living nightmare for the Palestinian refugees and Palestinians throughout the Diaspora who can only complain but not act to change one thing in their favor.

So they pretend they have made a difference in their self-delusions, claiming that Americans are changing their attitudes and are supporting the Palestinian cause. In fact, Americans more and more oppose Palestinian rights even though those rights are written int he stone of International Laws.

Tragically, with "champions" like Abunimeh and el-Haddad on the side of the Palestinians, the Palestinians continue to step backwards in their just struggle against the brutal and illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, not to even mention of the Golan Heights.

The book would have done much to enlighten the public had it offered a balance in its interpretation. Instead, Adam Horowitz, co-editor of the extremist web site Mondoweiss which regularly attacks Palestinians who seek to embrace balance and compromise, has brought together some great writers and some of the usual rabble that has undermined Palestinian civil rights through their illogical rantings and screams.

Maybe there will be a book that takes the Goldstone Report and offer it up in a balanced and accurate analysis that reinforces, not undermines, the just cause of the Palestinian people. But some of the essays are so biased that any typical American reader -- and most Americans won't even waste their time reading it -- would close it up and give it away.

Some of the essays worth reading include Raji Sourani, the human rights lawyer based in Gaza City and the director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Henry Siegman, a Jewish American and director of the US/Middle East Project, Rashid Khalidi the distinguished Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University who occasionally allows his emotions to get the better of his writings,  former Congressman Brian Baird who visited the Gaza Strip often and is one of the few members of Congress who understand the true dynamics of the conflict, and the most distinguished archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner whose reasoned perspectives on the Palestine-Israel conflict have given the Palestinians their only toe-to-toe equilibrium with the Israelis.

The book is worth reading but take a black marker and x-out the propaganda from Abunimeh and el-Haddad, two misguided writers whose emotions always overcome reason.

The Goldstone Report: The Legacy of the Landmark Investigation of the Gaza Conflict
Nation Books
Edited by Adam Horowitz, Lizzy Ratner, and Philip Weiss
425 pages

Behind the Veil of Vice: The Business and Culture of Sex in the Middle East by John R. Bradley

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"Behind the Veil of Vice: The Business and Culture of Sex in the Middle East" is not a salacious examination of the sexual hypocrisies of the Islamic World, but rather a  first person exploration o the topic by an author who has spent many years in the Arab and Asian Islamic communities.

Author John R. Bradley offers a context for the book detailing a history of sexual activity in the Arab World from the prophet Mohammed's many wives, to the Ottoman Empire which pushed non-Muslims in to sexual service (prostitution) to help confront political upheaval in their society. A fascinating observation in that history comes from an Arab dictator who once told local mullahs who demanded an end to all entertainment (night clubs, dance halls and bars) as a means of ending all forms of sexual activity outside of marriage that creating Heaven on Earth would make the promise by God of the reward of Heaven irrelevant.

Bradley takes us through his real-time experience traveling through Syria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran and more as he talks with selected individuals about the taboo topic.

The irony is that prostitution has been a part of Arab and Islamic life, despite the public claims to the contrary. Not just the Kings and the wealthy, but the common people also engaged in prostitution when it suited their needs. The contradictions in Islamic society notwithstanding did not prevent anything.

Bradley also touches on common practices including the temporary marriage of young women by usually older men purely for the purpose of having sex, and on the marriage by older men with young children, where sex is delayed until the child reaches puberty. The entire topic is disgusting, but Bradley doesn't engage in that details nor does he offer any personal experiences in the realm of his book, only the interviews with subjects of knowledge he encounters and seeks out.

Everyone knows that the Islamic World is replete with hypocrisy, but then, so is the Western World. Human beings will always create excuses to separate their own failings from the failings of those they judge. It's a Middle East where you can hate Israel or the West and even debate dicy issues publicly as long as you never criticize the powers that be. Don't criticize the King, the dictator, the president-for-life, and your opinion has a modest level of free speech protections. Is that any different than in the West? Of course not. The only difference is that you are allowed to hate Muslims instead of Israelis in the West without being punished or subjected to hate crimes laws.

It's impossible for any Arab or Muslim to read Bradley's book without sensing a subterranean view that the Muslim and Arab Worlds are hypocritical. But you must read past the speed bumps of "hot button issues," something very few Arabs and Muslims are willing to do in order to accurately understand complex issues like freedoms, sex and political hypocrisies.

The book is a good basis to begin to understand some of the mondernday realities of the Arab and Islamic Worlds, but doesn't engage in out right judgmentalism. Bradley is not casting any judgments about the countries or peoples he explores in his casual travels through the region. It offers a good understanding of what most of us already know that the Arab World and Islamic World have their vices and people are willing to live with them rather than expose them and themselves as hypocrites on the subject. But it also puts it in a needed historical context that challenges the popular myths that women are free anywhere in this world be it in the confines of the West or Islam.

It is an easy read. And you just might learn something about a topic that is too often throw around in debates with little knowledge and too much stereotyping and political biases or racial or religious prejudices.

Behind the Veil of Vice: The Business and Culture of Sex in the Middle East.
John R. Bradley
Palgrave, MacMillan publishing
278 pages

-- Ray Hanania

Monday, October 11, 2010

New Book Chronicles the Whistle Blower of Israel’s WMD Program, Mordechai Vanunu’s Freedom of Speech Trial and how an American novelist became the reporter who followed it

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New Book Chronicles the Whistle Blower of Israel’s WMD Program, Mordechai Vanunu’s Freedom of Speech Trial and how an American novelist became the reporter who followed it

[Clermont, Fl.]  October 11, 2010—“BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010” by Eileen Fleming also documents the Whistle Blower of Israel’s weapons of mass destruction program's childhood in Morocco, multiple crises of faith, 18 years in jail, and 6 ½ years under restrictions that have denied him the right to leave Israel and speak to foreigners.

In 1985, Vanunu shot two rolls of film in top-secret locations in the Dimona, Israel’s seven-story underground nuclear weapons facility in the Negev and he served 18 years in jail for treason and espionage.

According to Fleming, “I was not a reporter when I met Vanunu in June 2005, but I was inspired to become one to tell his story and my experiences with hundreds of nonviolent Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights activists who are seeking security for Israel through justice for Palestine: an end to the military occupation.”

On January 25, 2006, Vanunu’s freedom of speech trial began for speaking to foreign media in 2004. In 2010, he served a sentence of 78 days in solitary confinement.

On October 4, 2010, the International League for Human Rights-FIDH/AEDH Germany, announced Vanunu was awarded the 2010 Carl-von-Ossietzky-Medal and an international campaign was launched to assure he be at the Award Ceremony, in Berlin on December 12, 2010.

On October 11, 2010, at 1 PM, Vanunu returns to the Supreme Court seeking to rescind the restrictions that have denied him the right to leave Israel since he was released from jail on April 21, 2004.

Fleming ends his saga with Vanunu waiting in Tel Aviv, for Israel to release him to full freedom.

About the Author:
Eileen Fleming is a registered nurse by education and writer by vocation. She is the Founder and Editor of, a feature correspondent for, a staff member of and published by dozens of Internet sites. She produced “30 Minutes with Vanunu” and “13 Minutes with Vanunu” which are streaming on her site. Fleming is also the author of KEEP HOPE ALIVE and THIRD INTIFADA/UPRISING: NONVIOLENT but with Words Sharper than a Two-Edged Sword.

Eileen Fleming
E-mail: <>
Phone: 352-242-1919

PDF COPIES of BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010 are available to the Media and Book Reviewer’s via <>

Eileen Fleming will be in Tehran, Iran from 5-20th of November 2010, researching her fourth book, but will be available for INTERVIEWS before and after she returns.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Just when I was ready to give up on peace, along comes Gregory Levey and his new book

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Hopes for peace in the Middle East rise and fall like a thrill ride at an amusement park. Yet most people seem convinced the rollercoaster ride is going to end badly. When you are on the hill and zipping down so fast your stomach moves into your throat, it might feel like the end of the world, as it does these days in the Middle East, but then reality sets in and you slow down as you approach another rise.

It's so easy to lose hope and so hard to keep it, but along comes a new book by my friend Gregory Levey, believe it or not a former speech writer for a bunch of Israeli prime ministers I might never say I admired. Yet Levey was so encouraging in his optimistic search for peace, rambling from one Israeli or Palestinian activist or organization like a pinball slamming against rubber bumpers and screaming excitement and hope.

Level, the author of a book on his former speech-writing career for some of Israel's rightwing leaders called "Shut up, I'm Talking: And Other Diplomact Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government," has published a new book, one that is lighter and more serious in its lightness.

It's called "How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment ." Talk about fatalistic optimism. Yet the book takes you through the highs and lows of the Middle East peace. He talks to everyone (including me) about peace and anti-peace. Sometimes, understanding anti-peace can help you understand peace.

Levey's book is encouraging in its determination to reach out to everyone he can possibly meet, something uncommon in Middle East journalism. Many Arab journalists won't interview Israeli Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu and especially refused to interview Ariel Sharon, who many Arabs view as a mass murderer and criminal terrorist. Yet, many Israeli journalists would not interview Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. And if they did, the Israeli government would put them in jail, anyway, just in case.

It's a terrible world to navigate that peace adventure, but Levey does it with skill, wit and stubbornness that is mandatory for anyone who hopes to one day see peace int he Middle East.

I loved the book and its easy writing style. His speech writing skills come out in full force in his narrative of his travels and encounters.

"How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment ."
Gregory Levey
Free Press, hardcover, Sept. 7, 2010
ISBN 9-7814-3915-415-1
288 pp

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Book Signing: “Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean.”

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“Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Book Signing and Discussion

Professor Basem L. Ra’ad 

October 18, 2010 6:00 PM

ADC Heritage Center
1732 Wisconsin Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20007

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) Invites you to a book signing on Monday, October 18, 2010 at the ADC Heritage Center.  Professor Basem L. Ra’ad will be discussing and signing his new book “Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean.”  
For thousands of years, the region of Palestine and the East Mediterranean has been denied an indigenous voice to narrate an inclusive history. Three major religions ascribe their origins to this part of the world, appropriating and re-appropriating the “Holy Land” time and again. This book offers a powerful corrective to common understandings. It emphasizes the long history of a region called “the cradle of civilization,” and dispels many old and new myths­covering issues related to constructs, claims and terminologies, regional mythologies and religions, invention and exploitation of sacred sites, the alphabet, ancient languages and place names, identity construction,  appropriation, self-colonization, and retrieval of ancient heritage. The book shows that ignorance is not always bliss. It is intended for general readership and for students and academics interested in history, religion, biblical studies, politics, archaeology, anthropology, literature, and cultural studies.

Copies of “Hidden Histories: Palestine and the Eastern Mediterranean” will be available for purchase.

Basem L. Ra’ad is a Professor at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem. Born in Jerusalem, he received his education in Jordan, Lebanon, the U.S. and Canada, earning a Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 1978. He has been an editor and community organizer, and has taught in Canada, Bahrain, Lebanon and Palestine.
Space is limited
RSVP is required by October 17, 2010
Please email your confirmation to 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Inside the Kingdom, By Robert Lacey

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When it comes to Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula, no one knows the history and politics better than Robert Lacey.

In 2009, he published "Inside the Kingdom"and it was a big book in hardcover. Now, the book is available in paperback and easier to carry and read.

This is a fascinating and detailed look into the evolution of the Saudi people, from the royalty to the rebels. Saudi Arabia is so important to the world and yet it is misunderstood often to play in to domestic politics.

Lacey's book offers an insight that even Arabs should read and understand. The future of the Middle East starts and ends in this desert sand kingdom. The future of America is in its winds.

Robert Lacey is the author of Majesty, the classic biography of Queen Elizabeth II. A distinguished journalist with a love of history, he wrote the series Great Tales from English History, and was co-author of the best-selling Year 1000. In 1979, he moved with his family to Saudi Arabia for eighteen months to research The Kingdom, his penetrating study of the country’s complex and often paradoxical culture, which was banned in Saudi Arabia. For the past three years, Robert has been based in Jeddah and Riyadh, gathering material for this sequel -- a completely new book which relates the Saudi role in the years of terror.
Penguin Books, now available
ISBN: 978-0-14-311827-5
$17, 404 pp