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Why Israel Reviewed by Abbygail Zwane for Books Live

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Books Live

19 August 2013

The moment I received Why Israel? and felt its heavy weight in my hands, I knew it dealt with matters that required focus and many hours of intellectual rumination. So says freelance journalist, Abbygail Zwane.

I had left it on the coffee table; its black cover with red and white writing taunting me. It promised a deconstruction of the anatomy of “Zionist apartheid” from a South African perspective. The quote in red was by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu: “A simple and thorough book that deals with the core issues underlying the conflict in the holy land.”

A friend of mine picked it up. He is a scholar of politics and couldn’t wait to open it and discover what was inside. “It’s so left that it’s actually right. It’s so progressive that it goes all the way around the political landscape to become almost conservative. Interesting,” he commented.

The authors Suraya Dadoo and Firoz Osman are South African activists who, with the release of this book, have illustrated in very clear terms Israel’s colonisation of Palestine and its corrupting influence on the world.

I dipped into Why Israel? and found the arguments and the in-depth research intriguing. It shed light on the plight of Palestinians and how theirs is similar in so many ways to the plight of South Africans under the Apartheid government. I was hooked – the tome offers a history and an explanation of everything to do with the age-old conflict tormenting the Holy Land. Each section provides valuable insight into the conflict using easy to navigate themes including Origins of the Conflict, Politics inside Israel and Israel’s Role in the Middle East. In turn, each section is divided into chapters that are well-written and easy to assimilate.

The forward is by ANC veteran, Ronnie Kasrils, who outlines the underlying theme quite succinctly: “The persistent claim that Palestine was a ‘land without people’ until Zionist settlers started arriving from Europe in the 1880s when a mere 2000 Jews resided there, is akin to the myths once taught in our racist schools that ‘the Bantu’ only arrived in South Africa at the time of Van Riebeeck’s landing at the Cape in 1652.”

I have not yet finished reading Why Israel? in its entirety as to do so requires time and reflection (it is 660 pages long). It is a book that stimulates debate, one chapter at a time, a book to be read carefully enough to pause in between to ponder the arguments. So far it has been an invigorating read and I would recommend it to all my hipster friends, university students, academics, journalists, researchers and anyone wanting to understand the realities of the occupation of Palestine.

Why Israel? is available at and at all good bookstores nationwide.


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