Haifa

The Other Son Dangerous Liaisons Barrymore   THE MONTAGUE-CAPULET pattern has been used a lot lately, fitting easily the Middle East situation. The girl is Israeli, the boy Arab, or vice versa. Now, in The Other Son, it is altered. Two young men, seemingly Israeli and Arab, are discovered to be brothers, victims of a mistake in a hospital, a Jewish one. Once again racial difference roars. The French director, Lorraine Levy, aided by Nathalie Saugeon and Noam Fitoussi, does not use her variation on this basic split as a trick for funny or saccharine effects.

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I know that this is harsh. But I use the word pusillanimous in its ugliest meaning—which is the “unmanly” meaning—especially in relation to Saudi Arabia, having stockpiled weapons and trained soldiers for decades so that by now it is the only Arab country capable of taking on the monstrous regime in Damascus … and winning. I say “unmanly” because the kingdom has done nothing of the sort.

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I. A year has passed since liberal America and the liberal opinion class, in particular, went ecstatic over the Arab debut into the modern world. I know that my standing in that class is suspect. So, being a bit flummoxed myself by the not altogether dissimilar developments in the vast expanse from the Maghreb to Mesopotamia, I conquered my doubts and made a slight stab for hope. But I quickly realized that I was wrong and left the celebration.

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The Liar as Hero

The Rise and Fall of a Palestinian Dynasty: The Husaynis, 1700-1948 By Ilan Pappe (University of California Press, 399 pp., $29.95) Out of the Frame: The Struggle for Academic Freedom in Israel By Ilan Pappe (Pluto Press, 246 pp., $22) The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine By Ilan Pappe (Oneworld, 313 pp., $14.95) I. At best, Ilan Pappe must be one of the world’s sloppiest historians; at worst, one of the most dishonest. In truth, he probably merits a place somewhere between the two. Here is a clear and typical example—in detail, which is where the devil resides—of Pappe’s handiwork.

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Of course, the issue of residential segregation in Israel comes up mostly between Arabs and Jews. And the fact is that it is the pattern but not the law. Arabs are a communal group with tight bonds among the generations. These bonds are often frayed—and often more than frayed—by what are sometimes multi-generational feuds.

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Overstated

The most durable myth in the Middle East is: "It's Palestine, stupid." It lies at the heart of Barack Obama's Middle East diplomacy, which is why the president has been pummeling the Israelis and pushing the Palestinians to resume talks. According to this myth, the most urgent problem is not the Iranian bomb or Syrian ambitions. It is not Egypt, once an anchor of stability and now slipping into precarious irrelevance. It is not Iraq, which is tottering between occupation and anarchy. It is not Al Qaeda in Yemen, the return of the Taliban, or the ticking time bomb that is Pakistan.

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Rinse, Wash, Repeat

I don’t think anyone would mistake me for a big fan of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main (as they put it) “pro-Israel” lobby in Washington. The only organization of that kind that I’ve ever given money to is Americans for Peace Now. And I have defended critics of AIPAC, including Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of The Israel Lobby, from charges of anti-Semitism. But I think Walt and Mearsheimer have been dead wrong in trying to blame the Israel lobby or the Israeli government for America’s invasion of Iraq.

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Rinse, Wash, Repeat

 I don’t think anyone would mistake me for a big fan of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), the main (as they put it) “pro-Israel” lobby in Washington. The only organization of that kind that I’ve ever given money to is Americans for Peace Now in Israel. And I have defended critics of AIPAC, including Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of The Israel Lobby, from charges of anti-Semitism. But I think Walt and Mearsheimer have been dead wrong in trying to blame the Israel lobby or the Israeli government for America’s invasion of Iraq.

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Tel Aviv’s distinctive architectural style is that of the Bauhaus. Many exemplars of that school of design dot Haifa and; here and there in Jerusalem, you will also find its presence. There’s a Bauhaus Museum on Bialik Street in what’s called the White City, mostly in recognition of the Jewish escapees, architects, and designers from the Nazi regime which swallowed up Bauhaus.

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Derisionist History

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations By Avi Shlaim (Verso, 392 pp., $34.95) Avi Shlaim burst upon the scene of Middle Eastern history in 1988, with the publication of Collusion Across the Jordan: King Abdullah, the Zionist Movement, and the Partition of Palestine. Before that, as a young lecturer at Reading University in England, he had produced two books, British Foreign Secretaries Since 1945 (1977) and The United States and the Berlin Blockade, 1948–1949 (1983), and several revealing essays on modern Middle Eastern historical issues in academic journals.

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