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May 15, 2008 - Image 70

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2008-05-15

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Arts & Entertainment

Between The Pages

New perspectives on Mideast history, politics and contemporary life.

Sandee Brawarsky

Special to the Jewish News

•From Benny Morris, a leading fig-

ure among Israel's "New Historians:'
a work described as groundbreak-
ing and deeply revisionist, 1948:A
History of the First Arab-Israeli
War (Yale; $32.50), focuses on the
political dimensions of the war. When
asked about lessons to be learned from
his study of the 1948 war, Morris replies,
"To be sure, many Israelis will learn that
they must remain strong and techno-
logically advanced; otherwise they will
be overwhelmed by Arab numbers and
fervor. The Arabs might learn that they
must improve themselves, at least on a
technological—scientific level, and better
their societies and armies, if they hope
to overcome Israel, though it is possible
that if they do, they may lose the desire to
destroy Israel:"

• Dr. Sami Khader is the only zoo veteri-
narian in the Palestinian territories, and
the zoo he oversees in the once prosperous
farming town of Qalquiya is a place with
animals in rusting, broken cages and few
visitors these days. But Dr. Khader hasn't
given up: His dream is to turn the zoo into
one of international caliber. The zoo was
founded in 1986, with the help of Israeli
zoologists, vets and wildlife workers, but

most of them now find it too
dangerous to travel there. As told by
British journalist Amelia Thomas, The
Zoo on the Road to Nablus: A Story of
Survival from the West Bank (Public
Affairs; $24.95) is an account of the opera-
tion of this indomitable and colorful insti-
tution and a chapter in the unfolding tale
of Middle East history.

• In Kingmakers: The Invention of the
Modern Middle East (Norton; June 9,
$27.95), Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair
Brysan examine the region's history
through the lives of particularly colorful
characters who were at the center, some
forgotten, some infamous. The authors, a
pair of married journalists, point out the
name of the region is an Anglo-American

•American Priestess:
The Extraordinary Story of
Anna Spafford and the American
Colony in Jerusalem (Nan A. Talese, June
17: $26) by Jane Fletcher Geniesse, a former
reporter for the New York Times, looks close-
ly at a community established in Jerusalem
in 1881 by American Christians with
unorthodox beliefs. They befriended all the
peoples of the Middle East and supported
the return of Jews to their ancestral land.
Their institution, the well-known American
Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, still stands.

• Bernard Avishai has been writing and
thinking about Israel since he moved there
to volunteer in the 1967 war. Now a politi-
cal economist, he calls on Israel to forge
a more complete democracy to ensure a
peaceful future in The Hebrew Republic:
How Secular Democracy and Global
Enterprise Will Bring Israel Peace At
Last (Harcourt; $26).

• Palestine Inside Out An Everyday
Occupation (Norton; $24.95) by
Saree Makdisi is an intimate view
of the bureaucratic hurdles faced
by Palestinians, the perceived loss of
control of their lives and their eroding
hopes for freedom. Makdisi, a professor
of English and comparative literature at
UCLA, compares the Palestinian territo-
ries to open-air prisons.

• In The Much Too Promised Land:
America's Elusive Search for Arab-Israeli
Peace (Bantam; $26), Aaron David Miller,
an adviser to six secretaries of state over
the last 20 years who helped shape U.S.
Middle East policy, provides a critical first
person narrative. Miller is now a public
policy fellow at the Woodrow Wilson
International Center.

•A celebratory book, Israel at Sixty: An
Oral History of a Nation Reborn (Wiley:
$30) by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald
S. Strober, the authors of several oral his-
tories, includes interviews with more than
30 Israelis and American activists, illus-
trated with many unpublished archival
photos. ❑

o cWS

the Israeli gov-
ernment, but
Special to the Jewish News
he had to deal
with a steady
‘1:11 Revisiting Exodus
stream of old
The 1960 film Exodus, from the novel
Haganah and
by Leon Uris, was the first major
Irgun fighters
Actor Paul Newman
0) motion picture filmed on location in
and director Otto
Israel. A sweeping, intelligent epic
Preminger on the set
that told the story of the founding of of Exodus
depiction in
the State of Israel, the movie helped
the movie.
create favorable public opinion for
Israel in the West. Exodus played to
Begin complained about Irgun get-
sold-out crowds and earned back five
ting short shrift. When Preminger
times its cost.
asked how Begin had seen the script,
The film's director, Otto Preminger, Begin replied, "I wasn't in Irgun for
is the subject of a new biography,
Preminger: The Man Who Would Be
Preminger correctly perceived
King by Foster Hirsch (Knopf; $35),
that Israel's cause would be better
which provides some interesting
served if the novel's heavy-handed
facts about the making of Exodus.
pro-Israel perspective was toned
Preminger had the cooperation of
down and if some of the Arab and

Nate Bloom



May 15 • 2038

British characters were "good guys."
This was a brilliant decision because
it gave the still pro-Israeli message
of the picture an air of veracity that
struck a chord with non-Jews.
One quarter of Jerusalem's Jewish
population turned out as unpaid
extras for the street scene in which a
massive crowd awaits the results of
the United Nations vote on the parti-
tion of Palestine. Preminger got this
turnout by promising the extras that
all of them would be entered into a
lottery with a grand prize of 20,000
Israeli pounds.

Big Screen/Little Screen

For economic and ideological rea-
sons, Israel didn't even have a TV
station until 1966. Today, there are
eight broadcast channels and a wide
range of cable offerings. Israeli TV,

like Israeli film, has blossomed in the
last decade, and Western compa-
nies are looking at which Israeli TV
programs they can adapt for their
own domestic audiences. The first
such adaptation — the HBO series
In Treatment — pre-
miered earlier this
Israeli film and
TV actors also are
starting to break
into American film
and TV produc-
tion. The box-office
Oded Fehr
smash The Mummy
(1999) and its
sequels introduced worldwide audi-
ences to handsome Israeli actor
Oded Fehr, 37. More recently, Fehr
has co-starred on the American TV
shows Presidio Med and Sleeper Cell.

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