When Peace Is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice, by Atalia Omer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 384 pages. $25. A self-defined Jewish atheist who grew up in Jerusalem, Atalia Omer reframes the Israeli-Palestinian peace process by focusing on the perceptions of marginalized groups within the Israeli and Jewish context. She highlights how hybrid identities like her own provide creative resources for peace-building in a situation where ethnoreligious national conflict and political agendas are informed by a particular concept of identity. Her study focuses on three groups: the Middle Eastern Jews, the Palestinian Israelis, and non-Israeli Jewish thinkers and activists marginalized by dominant Zionist discourses. By critically examining how the Israeli peace camp thinks about religion, nationalism, and justice, Omer exposes its conceptual and ideological constraints and highlights the value of a broad range of marginalized identities. (LW)
Imperfect Compromise: A New Consensus among Israelis and Palestinians, by Michael Karpin. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2013. 272 pages. $29.95. Israeli broadcast journalist Michael Karpin claims that the Arab-Israeli conflict has never been closer to a resolution than it is today. He argues that Israel’s liberal Zionist movement is steadily overtaking the traditional right wing, and the Palestinian Authority is proving to be a serious partner for peace by acting reliably and responsibly to create order and combat terrorism. Karpin proposes that a regional peace agreement based on the Saudi initiative of March 2002 will provide a sustainable and mutually beneficial settlement for all parties involved. By analyzing trends of Palestinian pragmatism, increasing secular post-Zionist sentiments, and various external and international factors, Karpin asserts that there is no better time for peace than the present. (LW)
Whatever Happened to the Egyptian Revolution?, by Galal Amin, trans. by Jonathan Wright. New York: American University in Cairo Press, 2013. 360 pages. $29.95. The January 25 Revolution in Egypt was a moment of great optimism, national fervor, and hope for future economic, social, and political improvements. Economist Galal Amin examines the events preceding the revolution, the aftermath of rising hopes and successive disappointments, and grim assessments of current postrevolutionary concerns. Amin claims that the Egyptians were forced to choose “between a rock and a hard place,” resulting in the election of the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Dr. Mohamed Morsi. Amin prophetically explains how a once promising revolution may soon take a destructive turn, but also outlines the possibility of a brighter future for Egypt based on a balanced economy, true democracy, and a secular state. (LW)
Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity, by Samuel Tadros. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 2013. 220 pages. $20. Author Samuel Tadros, himself a Copt residing in the US, addresses the history of the Coptic Church in Egypt from the time of its founding by St. Mark to its modern manifestation after the Egyptian Revolution. Tadros states that the history of the Copts and the history of Egypt are not mutually exclusive, and that both institutions face a crisis of modernity. He frames the Copts as an at-risk minority in Egypt under a new Islamist government, and cites emigration as an evolving coping mechanism to avoid demotion to second-class citizenship. The narrative of the book is organized chronologically, but also includes pertinent details on Coptic theology. (EF)
Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty, and the Rule of Law in Modern Egypt, by Hussein Ali Agrama. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 288 pages. $24.75. This book explores the basis of Egypt’s laws, politics, and religious life. The book is divided into six chapters, each of which discusses a specific issue (e.g., hisba and fatwas) from both Islamic and secular viewpoints. (MB)
A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt, by Nancy Y. Reynolds. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2012. 355 pages. $45. Nancy Reynolds assesses consumption-driven tensions in colonial Egypt, which culminated in the Cairo fire of 1952 that extensively damaged the downtown shopping district. She explores materialism as a factor of Egyptians...