Dissident Voice has published a review of my book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict by Eric Walberg (who reviewed it jointly with James Petras’s latest). Here are a few excerpts!
The gap between word and deed is really an abyss here. Either Obama is helpless, cowardly or cynical…
Hammond realized he had to document this ‘legacy’ and he does it well. He writes with a quiet passion which makes the ugly reality more bearable….
Hammond’s earnest attempt to educate in the hope that some of it will sink in, and to reach out, makes me think of the great flowering of the peace movement in the late 1950s, when the Cold War began to thaw, empowering Americans to question the nuclear war scares. The best of US society joined in, from Linus Pauling to Stanley Kubrick.
A few comments about the review, to clarify a few things that are mischaracterized about the book:
Hammond’s main point is to separate Obama’s weak, nice words — “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines” — with his inability to move towards fulfilling them. The gap between word and deed is really an abyss here. Either Obama is helpless, cowardly or cynical.
Actually, this is not the main point of the book. It focuses heavily on events during the Obama administration, and I do observe the disparity of his words versus his actions throughout, but the book is not about Obama. I do the same comparative analysis for his predecessors and US government officials in general.
Furthermore, I do not suggest in the book that Obama’s deeds don’t match his words because he is helpless or cowardly; on the contrary, I argue that he is far from helpless and seek to illustrate how his words are simply intended to deceive.
Walberg also remarks,
Hammond is a ‘two-stater’: advocating some kind of binational state or independent states based on 1967 borders.
This makes my position appear confusing. Am I for a single (binational) state, or the two-state solution? The answer is I favor a single state solution, it’s just that the only way I see to get there is to first realize implementation of the two-state solution. This ought to be clear to readers from the book’s Conclusion, where I state so explicitly.
Hammond tries to ward off cries of ‘anti-Semitism’ with an introduction by a more neutral Gene Epstein, asserting his ‘pride in being Jewish and American, and identification with many Israelis’.
Actually, this is not at all the purpose of Gene’s Introduction. The purpose is to prepare readers for what’s to come, and particularly readers who would consider themselves “pro-Israel”. I didn’t write this book with the intent to “preach to the choir”, so-to-speak, but to actually change people’s minds. Gene honored me by writing his Introduction in furtherance of that goal. It’s an attempt to reach out to the open-minded. Whether willfully ignorant apologists for Israel’s crimes accuse me of “anti-Semitism” for what I’ve written is of absolutely no concern to me. They can level all the personal attacks they want; the facts I present are meticulously documented.
Then Walberg writes,
Epstein denounces Israel’s crimes as “heinous’, but “that hardly makes them unique … nor does it make the history of Israel very different from that of many other nations, including the US.” Okay, the US committed a holocaust against the native people. That is something that Zionists like to throw in your face to change the subject of their crimes.
But Epstein nonetheless turns around and concludes that the Palestine-Israel conflict is “the most infamous of the world’s longstanding international conflicts.” So which is it? Doesn’t “most infamous” mean “unique”?
Walberg sees a contradiction where there is none. Here’s what Gene wrote:
If Zionists and Israelis committed unjust and even heinous acts, that hardly makes them unique in light of what Winston Churchill once called “the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime.” Nor does it make the history of Israel very different from that of many other nations, including the US.
It should be clear that Gene is not saying the Israel-Palestine conflict is not unique in any way. (Of course it is.) He’s just saying the commitment of unjust and heinous acts is something it shares with countless other states — which is certainly inarguable. This is not a defense of Israel, of course; Gene is simply making the point that rather than blindly defending a country out of some misplaced sense of patriotism or loyalty, we ought to be honest with ourselves and be willing to criticize governments that engage in heinous crimes.
That observation, of course, doesn’t contradict at all the description of the conflict as “the most infamous of the world’s longstanding international conflicts” — which aren’t even Gene’s words! He was quoting me there. (Here’s the full paragraph: ‘In Common Sense, Thomas Paine famously claimed for the American Revolution that “The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.” In Obstacle to Peace, Jeremy Hammond’s claims are more modest. “The goal of this book,” he writes, is to help “achieve an end to what is undoubtedly the most infamous of the world’s longstanding international conflicts.” As readers will find, Obstacle to Peace is filled with common sense.’)
Continuing this criticism of the Introduction, Walberg adds:
He [Gene Epstein] agrees with Hammond that “‘Jewish state’ [is] a racially-tinged statement that seems to codify the second-class status of Israel’s non-Jewish citizens”. More proof of infamy and uniqueness.
But, again, this doesn’t contradict Gene’s incontrovertible observation that states throughout history, including the US, have engaged in heinous crimes!
With regard to Richard Falk’s Foreword to my book, Walberg writes:
Hammond doesn’t take the one-state proposal seriously, what Falk describes in the foreword as, “a unilaterally imposed Israeli one-state solution combined with either Palestinian Bantustanization or third-class citizenship in an enlarged Israel.” Falk reluctantly endorses some version of it “based on the equality of the Palestinian and Jewish peoples” to resolve “overlapping claims of self-determination”.
First, again, my position on the one- vs. two-state solution is made explicitly clear in the Conclusion, where I observe that the latter is the only viable path to the former. It’s one thing for activists to say they oppose the latter in favor of the former, but how do you get there? It’s not that I don’t take the former seriously, it’s just that I’ve yet to see anyone explain the steps to actually get there in any other way than I’ve outlined in Obstacle to Peace (i.e., to first see the implementation of the two-state solution realized).
Second, Richard Falk endorses a unilaterally imposed one-state solution?! This quote from the second sentence in the paragraph above is not from Richard’s Foreword. Confused by this, I Googled it to see where it came from. Turns out Falk isn’t even talking about a one-state solution in the context the quote is taken from, but an Israeli unilaterally imposed two-state solution! Here’s the relevant quote from Falk:
On the Israeli and Zionist side of the debate is the conviction that the establishment of a Palestinian state remains the only way to square the circle of peace, Jewish state, and democracy for Israel….
What is missing from this two-state scenario are two elements: any real resonance in Israel and any sense that such a Palestinian state would be based on the equality of the two peoples, which would have to include, at the very least, the end of discrimination within Israel of the Palestinian minority and a just resolution of refugee issues, which involves Palestinians living in misery in camps either within Palestine or neighbouring countries.
These are daunting challenges, but unless met, the advocacy of this two-state approach will not bring peace or provide a solution that satisfies either side.
Needless to say, Richard is certainly not endorsing the Israeli-imposed “solution” in question, but rejecting it!
So, long story short, there are some unfortunate misrepresentations in this review, but do check out!
Then head on over to the book’s website and get your own copy in hardcover or paperback!