In the November issue of the Friends Journal, a review on the book Refusing to be Enemies by Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta was published by Robert Dockhorn. You can read the review here. The author has sent a reply to the reviewer and graciously shared her reply with us to publish here:
Letter to Friends Journal Forum from Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta (circulated with permission)
Refusing to be Enemies – Palestinian and Israeli Nonviolent Resistance to the Israeli Occupation. Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta. Ithaca Press (Garnet Publishing, Reading, UK), 2011.
“I’d like to thank Robert Dockhorn for his very positive and helpful review of Refusing to be Enemies and also for his encouragement to submit a few words in response. The first thing I’d like readers of Friends Journal to know is that—in addition to requesting that their local libraries acquire the book—there is another way to avoid the prohibitive price of the $70 hardcover edition. The paperback is due for release in February of 2011, and is listed at $24.99 US (down from the original list price of $35, although the UK price remains unchanged at 19.99 BP), which will make it far more accessible. It is already listed on Amazon, and your local bookseller can order it from Ithaca Press’s North American distributer, ISBS in Portland, OR.
Regarding the FJ review, I would like to make one correction, clarify a couple of points, and clear up a misunderstanding.
A meaning-altering word substitution was inadvertently introduced in reproducing my capsule definition of “normalization” in the Israeli-Palestinian context. The correct quote is: “Normalization is a derogatory term denoting a relationship between Israelis and Palestinians (usually organizations) carried on as if all were normal between Israel and Palestine, even as the oppression [not “conflict”] continues.” I.e., the issue isn’t the persistence of the conflict, but of the power imbalance between Israelis and the Palestinians under Israeli rule.
I also would like to note that the protests that have “temporarily blocked construction of the wall, and in a few instances actually changed its path,” are not limited to Bil’in, although that village’s now 5-year nonviolent struggle is an extraordinary example. In fact, similar, if smaller-scale and less well-publicized, nonviolent efforts have been going on in many villages along the route of the wall since 2002. A number are mentioned in the book, including that of Budrus, where daily actions blocking bulldozers led to return of 95% of the land slated for expropriation from it and neighbouring villages. The film Budrus is currently being shown throughout the world, and the trailer and a schedule of showings may be viewed at www.justvision.org . Similarly, for a close-up of the Bil’in struggle, check out www.bilin-village.org, where you can also take a look at a clip of the also excellent, if somewhat older, film, Bil’in Habibti (http://www.bilin-village.org/english/agenda/3249-Bilin-Habibti-Bilin-My-Love-at-Voices-Forward-Festival).
Lastly, despite the overall positive tone of the review, one interpretation of the book gave me pause. It states: “Kaufman-Lacusta probes carefully the different interests of Palestinian and Israeli activists and how their activities should not always be conducted jointly. At the same time, she urges Israeli activists to do their part by steering nonviolent activities into Israel proper, in the form of noncooperation with the occupation, both to have a greater effect on the Israeli government and to heighten the awareness of other Israelis of the conditions in the occupied territories.”
I want to emphasize that this is not quite what I intended to convey, and I apologize if I gave the impression that this was the case. I definitely did not mean to imply that the interests of Palestinian and Israeli activists necessarily differ and that “their activities should not always be conducted jointly.” What I was saying is that working jointly in uni-national organizations seems to work better in many instances than working in joint, bi-national organizations; and, more importantly, that Israelis (and internationals) must be sensitive to the desires and needs of their Palestinian hosts, and neither impose their “help” nor take advantage of their greater access to influence with the authorities.
Likewise, in encouraging Israeli activists to engage more widely in noncooperation with the Israeli authorities inside Israel and work to combat racism and militarism within the borders of the state, I did not mean to suggest that Israeli activists should avoid participation in Palestinian-led nonviolent actions in the West Bank; quite the contrary!
These forms of activism are complementary, not an “either-or” choice. In fact, it is precisely those Israelis who stand side-by-side with Palestinians and see the conditions of their lives first-hand who are best able to “heighten the awareness of other Israelis” of these conditions.
Happily, by the time I wrote the Afterword for the paperback edition last fall, I was able to point to recent progress in both joint struggle and noncooperation inside Israel [* suggested footnote, if there’s room: BDS, the Palestinian-led international campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, was the third form of nonviolent resistance dealt with in the Afterword: see http://bdsmovement.net ]. In that connection, I especially encourage you to check out reports of the ongoing (weekly since January 2010) demonstrations in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem (e.g., www.en.justjlm.org or just Google “sheikh jarrah”) and the expanding movement of noncooperation initiated in May by Israeli activist Ilana Hammerman (Google her by name), who concludes a recent article in the prestigious Israeli daily Ha’aretz:
I am nurturing the hope that the police will recommend that I stand trial. Because then, before they “prosecute me to the full extent of the law,” I will be given an opportunity to tell my story, and to bring up in the courtroom − the most appropriate place of all − my doubts concerning the legality of many of the laws of the State of Israel.
Thus encouraged, I’ve been ending the PowerPoint presentations I’ve been giving at book events since that time by wondering out loud—quoting the Afterword:
Could this be the beginning of the end “of the multi-tiered Israeli system of oppression” that [prominent BDS activist Omar] Barghouti describes? Have the “Israeli Jews with a conscience” that [pacifist Palestinian lawyer] Jonathan Kuttab referred to [see Epilogue section entitled “Joint Struggle in the Occupied Territories—Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea”] begun, at last, to “make a clean break with . . .. broader Israeli society” and to act upon their “more thoroughgoing critique of Israeli society,” as he proposed back in 2007? Could this, indeed, be the beginning of the “movement of Israeli nonviolent action, especially multiple forms of noncooperation, inside Israel” that I allude to in my Conclusions as a necessary complement to joint struggle in the occupied territories in the achievement of “a just, viable, and enduring peace” in the region?”