The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History, edited by Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg. Foreword by Elias Khoury. After-word by Jacqueline Rose. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019. 403 pages. $40. Editors Bashir Bashir and Amos Goldberg compiled several essays in an effort to reshape the way people think about the Holocaust and the 1947–49 Palestinian refugee crisis (known in Arabic as al-Nakba or “the Catastrophe”). The essays were curated with the goal of building mutual understanding and altering the shared consciousness that dictates the chosen traumas by which people choose to separate themselves. The novel re-framing of the Arab-Israeli conflict the contributors put forth offers a way to understand the shared history of Israelis and Palestinians that the editors hope could contribute to a greater sense of unity. (EB)
Electrical Palestine: Capitalism and Technology from Empire to Nation, by Fredrik Meiton. Oakland: University of California Press, 2019. 305 pages. $29.95. University of New Hampshire historian Fredrik Meiton’s meticulous history of electrification in the British Mandate of Palestine, and its vast implications for Israel and the Palestinians, provides an important intervention in the history of the region by illuminating the role of technology in shaping the political reality. Meiton uses the term technocapitalism to describe the close relationship between technology and capitalism that fueled British imperial interests overall, but specifically in regard to the economic and “civilizing” opportunities for Palestine the British perceived in the Zionist movement. “Electrical Palestine” was part of a new world order shaped by large, centralized technological systems, but Meiton reminds us that those systems determined the very criteria that their success was ultimately judged by. (MB)
Chroniques: Selected Columns, 2010–2016, by Kamel Daoud. Translated by Elisabeth Zerofsky. New York: Other Press, 2018. 311 pages. $28.95. In this selection of his columns from 2010 to 2016, Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud writes with intensity and beauty about Algeria, making sense of a country stuck in a prolonged, repressive dictatorship. Daoud’s takes the reader with him as he watches the Arab Spring unfold around him and then follows its tragic unravelling. As Daoud grapples with the tumultuous events, he refuses to let anyone off the hook: the colonizers, the people, the Islamists, the elites, and, finally, le pouvoir (“the power,” as Algerians refer to the regime’s core decision-makers), each of whom bears some responsibility, although not as much as other groups suggest. Daoud interrogates himself as much as he interrogates the world around him, giving readers a clear-eyed view of Algeria that is at once personal and national. (MB)
Doves among Hawks: Struggles of the Israeli Peace Movements, by Samy Cohen. Translated by Natasha Lehrer and Cynthia Schoch. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. 229 pages. $65. Samy Cohen of CERI Sciences Po explores the history of Israeli peace movements from their birth after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, through their climax in the early 1980s and subsequent decline from 1983 on. Cohen bases his research on newspaper articles, polling data, secondary sources, and over 70 interviews with activists and movement leaders, academics, and politicians. Using the lens of the peace camp to study Israeli society as a whole, Cohen charts the increased polarization and erosion of democracy. Despite Israel’s shift to the right and outright hostility to the peace movements, they have survived and proliferated into many smaller organizations that continue to do important work. Cohen’s balanced history paints a bleak picture, but he ends the book on a more hopeful note, urging the various groups to unite to form a body capable of mass mobilization that will turn the tide of nationalist fervor. (MB)
Israel’s National Identity: The Changing Ethos of Conflict, by Neta Oren. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2019. 290 pages. $60. Scholar Neta Oren examines how the varying beliefs that pervade Israeli society interact with each other, conflict with one other, and morph over time. Among them are the beliefs that Israel should be the nation-state for the Jewish people and that the country is under constant...