Sunday, October 26, 2008

A reader sent me Neve Gordon's reaction to my review of his book (see below). I only have one comment: why do some authors have the habit of accusing their critical reviewers of not reading their books, or not "carefully" reading their books? Also, did Gordon not understand that my point about Khalil Sakakini was ironic? And he mentioned some of the Palestinian sources he cited in the book, but he proves my point: that he mentions them if they spoke in English. (Oh, and I am reviewing the book for Choice too).

"Thanks. Yes, you can forward my mail. Yes, I understand his point, and I added a sentence to what I wrote you earlier. See below..
Thanks for alerting me to this. First, I am happy the book was reviewed and would like to thank the reviewer. Unfortunately, though, it seems to me that the reviewer did not read the book carefully and wanted me to write a different book (perhaps the book he would have liked to write). For instance, in the Preface (that is posted on my site), I emphasize that one cannot solve the occupation without taking into account the "ethnic cleansing" that took place in 1948, but I explain that 1948 has been discussed at length and that I want to concentrate on how the occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has ticked. That is the objective of this book and I think it should be judged according to what it sets out to do and not according to what other people would have liked it to do. Therefore, the critique about not citing Khalil Sakakini is out of place because he wrote at the beginning of the previous century. I do, however, use -- quite extensively -- the human rights reports of Al-Haq and testimonies given by Palestinians to the United Nations (not to mention Said, Tamari, Khalidi, Hamami and others that are cited), so I think that it is too harsh to claim that I do not cite Arab or Palestinian soures. Also the claim that I portray the occupation as benign because I claim that Israel aimed to secure the livelhood of Palestinians during the first years misses the whole argument. I claim that securing the livelihood was a form of control that aimed to normalize and perpetuate the occupation and was not carried out for humane reasons. So while I am very grateful for the review, I think the book deserves a more careful and generous reading.
Thanks, Neve"