Nonviolent resistance mapped – A review on Refusing to be Enemies, by Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta

Refusing to be Enemies – Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation.  Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta.  Ithaca Press (Garnet Publishing, Reading, UK), 2011.


When Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta came to live in Israel more than twenty years ago, there was little awareness of the idea of nonviolent resistance in the peace movement here. There were sometimes those to whom the practice of nonviolent resistance came naturally, but there was no underlying vision.

Beate Zilversmidt

Maxine had a long background in the Quaker movement. She was quite unique as a Jewish Quaker. Maybe she hoped to bring the nonviolent resistance idea to the Israelis, but she was too wise to do that in the form of preaching. Energetically she threw herself into all kinds of actions, and soon had many Israeli friends. In conversations with Maxine, I’ve learned a few things. For example, that nonviolent resistance is something other than simply demonstrating in a civilized way. But shouting abuse at police officers who arrest activists is also not consistent with the idea of nonviolence. Verbal abuse is also violence. Nonviolent resistance is not an easy thing. Civil disobedience takes courage, and self-control and perseverance, not to mention sacrifice.

When, in the nineties, Maxine returned to Canada for family reasons, she left behind also many Palestinian friends. In particular, her departure was a blow to the Jahalin Bedouin whose existence in the West Bank was under pressure from the ever-advancing Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

But Maxine had not really gone. One time she came back to attend a Jahalin event. Another time she explained that she had begun writing a book for which she had to interview many Israeli and Palestinian activists. That book became a years-long project, for which she always had to do more interviews. I was certainly not the only one who doubted whether the book would ever come about.

Meanwhile nonviolent protest became the trademark of the weekly demonstrations against the wall—in Bil’in, but also in many other farming villages that saw their land confiscated—a weekly procession of Palestinians, Israelis and other friends, who always approached the hated wall closer than the soldiers would have it, not shrinking back from clouds of tear gas (weekly) or bullets (sometimes fatal); continuing with resolve week after week, year after year, always with another playful element assuring it of continued media interest. (Once, the musical protest of the Dutch pianist Jacob Allegro-Wegloop did the job.) Had Maxine come too early or had she gone away too soon?

But now there is the book. A portrait of Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent resistance against the occupation, based on conversations, continued over the years, with more than one hundred individuals. Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta ordered the material thematically, and it sometimes made my head spin when pieces of many conversations were placed side by side [yet] again. But continuing to read, I became gradually aware that the peace movement had rarely been written about so vividly, so intelligently, and so from within.

In the years that Maxine has no longer lived here, the radical groups in particular have undergone significant development. But she has witnessed these developments nonetheless, through her conversations with many unique individuals, Israeli and Palestinian, each with a different story, who together form the movement of the dreamers. Dreamers who take their dreams very seriously, and dedicate their lives to them.

All those conversations, and Maxine’s thinking about them –of which you find a lot in the book—the careful description of the dilemmas, interspersed with personal anecdotes, make this book a historiography of the movement which constituted the only glimmer of hope in hard times, the movement of those who refuse to be enemies—or to take the occupation and the lack of rights of Palestinians for granted. Where is the Palestinian Gandhi? you hear people ask who look for excuses. Anyone who has read this book has at least something to say to them.

Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta: Refusing to be Enemies: Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation, Ithaca Press 2011, ISBN: 9780863723803

Reform in the Middle East Oil Monarchies

Considerations of the Nature of Democracy and Reform in the Arabian Peninsula

Reform in the Middle East Oil Monarchies, Ithaca Press, Editors: Anoushiravan Ehteshami , Steven Wright, ISBN: 9780863723230, New Edition, Feb 2012

Oil – essential to the economy of the Middle East – is central to current unrest in the region, and is therefore inextricably linked to any consideration of wider political reform.
This collection of articles features contributions by eminent academics and government officials, through which it addresses issues surrounding reform specifically in the oil-rich countries and states of the Arabian Peninsula.
These oil-rich monarchies are frequently dismissed as having no democratic systems compared to most other regions of the world. However, recent consideration has shown that these countries and states are perhaps not as autocratic as they have traditionally been perceived to be.
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Refusing to Be Enemies – Book Review by Jim Miles, Palestine Chronicles

Source: Palestine Chronicles

Refusing to be Enemies – Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation.  Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta.  Ithaca Press (Garnet Publishing, Reading, UK), 2011.

Israel has always indicated that there is no partner for peace in its relationships with the Palestinian people.  Refusing to be Enemies refutes that idea solidly through its investigation into the non-violent resistance movement taking place in Palestine and in Israel. It also clarifies the nature of the Palestinian resistance and the nature of what non-violence truly stands for.   As cited from Mohammed Khatib, “what the state of Israel fears most of all is the hope that people can live together based on justice and equality for all.”

A forward by Ursula Franklin points out that “it is the violent response, the abnormal, that is recorded, and analyzed and taught.”  It is also the corporate media that finds the violence agreeable to its narrative of events which for the most part, as indicated by Jeff Halper, depicts “Israel as an innocent democracy and a victim of terrorism that is simply defending itself,” rather than the reality of Israel using “occupation as a pro-active policy by an ethnocracy that is the strong party in the conflict and is engaged in ethnic cleansing.”  The “lethal dynamic” of having “Palestinians resisting violently and resisting through things like suicide bombings,” supports the innocent victim narrative.  It helps create inside Israel a “war culture that is perpetrating wars.”

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Not loyal but estranged; a study of the Libyan political mindset and its repercussions

Political Alienation in Libya Assessing Citizens’ Political Attitude and Behaviour by Mabroka al-WerfalliPolitical Alienation in Libya: Assessing Citizens’ Political Attitude and Behaviour, by Mabroka al-Werfalli, Ithaca Press, 2012, ISBN: 9780863723728, Hardback, 240pp

Ithaca Press is pleased to announce the publication of Political Alienation in Libya by Mabroka al-Werfalli.    This highly topical and up-to-the-minute publication should appeal to followers of contemporary politics who value a more in-depth consideration of how the current climactic situation in Libya has come about.   The book provides a unique insight into the political mindset of the Libyan people, which has led up to the 2011 protests and the resulting civil war.

The book is an assessment of Libyan citizens’ political attitudes and behaviour, and features interviews and surveys of Libyan people from across the board, thus presenting a true cross-section of the nation’s political mindset.

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20% discount on the The Sociology of Islam: Secularism, Economy and Politics

It is our pleasure to announce the publication of our latest title, The Sociology of Islam: Secularism, Economy and Politics by Dr Tugrul Keskin, published in English for the first time by the help of the Centre for Islamic Contributions to Civilization (Qatar). If you wish to order the book from our website, please visit and enter the promotional code VOY2S0PI at checkout. ORDER HERE 

If you wish to receive a review or desk copy, please kindly send us your request to
Edited by Dr Tugrul Keskin
Hardback, 520pp, 235 x 155mm
Ithaca Press
ISBN: 9780863723711

Book Review: The People Reloaded, by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

The People Reloaded, The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future  by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

The People Reloaded, The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

The People Reloaded, The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future

by Danny Postel and Nader Hashemi

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Melville House Publishing (24 Mar 2011)
  • Language English
  • ISBN-13: 978-1935554387
  • Order here

Since June 2009, the Islamic Republic of Iran has seen the most dramatic political upheaval in three decades of rule. What began as a series of mass protests over the official results of a presidential election – engendering the slogan “”Where is My Vote?”” – has grown into something much larger, indeed the largest political protest since the 1979 Revolution. This momentous anthology explores these critical questions through key statements, communiqus, manifestos and the debates which have emerged from this vibrant social movement.

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Children of catastrophe: Book review of Jamal Kanj’s personal account as a Palestinian refugee

Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America, memoirChildren of Catastrophe: Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America

Garnet Publishing, Authors: Jamal Krayem Kanj, ISBN: 9781859642627, Paperback, September 2010

From: Now Lebanon, March 2, 2011

ithout a doubt, Jamal Krayem Kanj has had an interesting life. He was born 10 years after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and grew up in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. As a youth, Kanj flirted with the idea of joining the armed resistance in Syria, survived Israeli airstrikes and fled war-torn Lebanon to finish schooling in Iraq, before eventually settling down in the USA. If Kanj were to put all this down in writing, then it’s definitely worth the read.

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Another review on Refusing to be Enemies from Quaker Life

Source: Seid, Tim, Quaker Life, November/December 2010, p34, Richmond, Indiana

Refusing to be Enemies – Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation.  Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta.  Ithaca Press (Garnet Publishing, Reading, UK), 2011.


Quakers who have become accustomed to the acronyms of Friends (FUM, FGC, AFSC) will feast from a different bowl of alphabet soup (AlC, ISM, ICAHD) in this important resource on Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent activism.

Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta is a Quaker-Jewish activist who works among Jews and Quakers in social issues and nonviolence training in the Vancouver area. Her role as a translator for the Alternative Information Center in the Jerusalem

office for seven years (1988-95) has given her insight into the people and groups working in the region for an end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. Maxine then traveled to Israel/Palestine three times from 2003-7, to interview over 100 people in consultation with key figures in Israel and Palestine, in order to tell their story about why nonviolent activism is the preferred method for working against the Israeli occupation; how Palestinians, Israelis and internationals have worked together; and what their hopes are for future peace.

The first part of the book begins with two chapters describing the personal choice Palestinians and Israelis made regarding nonviolence and the recent history of those actions since the First Intifada and before. The second part is devoted to the practice of nonviolence and the strategies that have been used.

Part three looks toward the future of creating even more effective strategies and what various individuals think might be the future for the region. Finally, the last section includes some very insightful assessment by individuals like Jeff Halper and Jonathan Kuttab.

This book is not just for activists but for anyone with some knowledge of the history of the region interested in learning more about the people and organizations struggling together for peace and justice in the land. A paperback version is in progress.

Tim Seid

Richmond, Indiana

A good antidote to all those who have given up on the Holy Land: A review on Refusing to be Enemies

Refusing to be Enemies – Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation.  Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta.  Ithaca Press (Garnet Publishing, Reading, UK), 2011.

Refusing to be Enemies is a good antidote to all those who have given up on peace in the Holy Land. It is a powerful and hopeful book about the possibility of a peaceful and just future for the people of Israel and Palestine. For all those on both sides of the conflict who say “There is no partner for peace”, … you will meet in this book hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis who are already active partners for peace.

In Refusing to be Enemies, Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta shares the stories of over 100 Palestinian and Israeli nonviolent peace and justice activists whom she interviewed in-depth. We learn why they have chosen nonviolence as a means of struggle and a path to real peace. Kaufman-Lacusta writes that increasing numbers of Palestinians are coming to see nonviolence as an active and effective means to challenge the Israeli military occupation of their homeland. Even some Hamas leaders are supporting nonviolent resistance as an effective means of struggle by Palestinians. And thousands of Israelis and Israeli organizations, as well as internationals, are joining Palestinians in ongoing nonviolent action campaigns, such as those that challenge the 26-foot -high separation wall, which is cutting off many Palestinian villages from their farmland Israeli and international participation in these Palestinian-led nonviolent local actions give moral support and some protection to the Palestinian demonstrators. In addition, notes Kaufman-Lacusta, the “outside” participants gain a heart-level understanding about the Palestinian experience of oppression living under the Israeli military occupation, and are inspired to return home to share their experience with others.
Her book provides firsthand evidence of the conversion experiences of many Israelis and Palestinians from a belief and confidence in the use of violence and the gun as a means of finding security to a belief in the power of active nonviolence.

We hear stories of both Israelis and Palestinians coming to realize that the security of their two peoples is bound together, and you can’t have security for one without security for the “other.”

Martin Luther King once said, “The choice is no longer between violence and nonviolence, but between nonviolence and nonexistence.” Israelis and
Palestinians are discovering nonviolence as the only alternative to an endless spiral of violence and counter-violence and security for none.
The stories in this book profiles the visions, hopes, and dreams of Palestinian and Israeli activists, as well as their thoughts about strategy on how to escalate the nonviolent resistance to the military occupation and build a just peace.
It is heartening to read of Palestinians and Israelis who say, “We are all one human family.” It is even more heartening to learn how they risk their lives in courageous nonviolent actions.
Refusing to Be Enemies helps us realize how important it is for us – Israelis in particular, and people around the world in general- to support the nonviolent initiatives and movements of Palestinians.

President John Kennedy once said “Those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable.” Our job is to help make peaceful change possible in Palestine/Israel.

This excellent book encourages all of us to get beyond the all-too-common division of the world between “us” and “them,” and the need to use violence war, and killing as a way of solving problems and achieving security. Instead, we discover that we are all one human family and can act on that belief and “refuse to be enemies.”

David Hartsough is director of Peaceworkers and cofounder of the Nonviolent Peaceforce. He co-led a Middle East peace delegation last year

Source: David Hartsough, Fellowship Journal, p41, Nyack, NY USA, Fall 2010

A Palestinian talks about his life in a Lebanese refugee camp

Children of Catastrophe by Jamal Kanj

Children of Catastrophe

Dodging rockets and bullets!

By ANIQA HAIDER ,  from Gulf Daily News

A BAHRAIN-based father who spent his childhood dodging Israeli rockets and bullets in a Palestinian refugee camp, is publishing a book he hopes will send a message to the world.

Bapco engineer Jamal Krayem Kanj was born in the Nahr El Bared camp in northern Lebanon, 10 years after the creation of Israel exactly 62 years ago today, which immediately sparked the disastrous Arab-Israeli war.

His book Children of Catastrophe: Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America charts his own life in the camp, dodging Israeli rockets and bullets, along with the misery Palestinians have been forced to endure.

It tells how he ran away at 11 with a group of other boys to join the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), then based in Syria, but was turned away because they were all so young.

At 19, he went to study in the US, where he became a California-registered civil engineer and achieved a Master of Business Administration degree.

Mr Kanj went back to Gaza, Palestine, in 1996 as part of a United Nations project to distribute food and water, shortly before moving to Bahrain to join Bapco.

The father-of-three, now an American citizen, says his book tells not just his story but that of a nation’s struggle.

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