Israeli Apartheid

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Ben White, Pluto; £9.99

The timing of this book could not be more apt given the South African based Human Sciences Research Council report on Palestine published a few months ago, which legally defines Israel as a state practising apartheid.

Israeli Apartheid certainly doesn't break any new ground in terms of the Nakba and Israeli oppression since 1948. However, that is not its purpose. What Ben White has achieved is an extremely well detailed handbook for those new to the Palestinian issue. Academic jargon is left out, but everything is meticulously referenced and the range and scale of sources are impressive; from recent Palestinian and Israeli historians to human rights organisations' reports and local newspapers. For such a small book the detail is remarkable, and important given the scale of disinformation churned out of the Zionist propaganda machine.

The book is structured to make the issue as accessible as possible: a chapter on the Nakba, a chapter on the occupation (describing Israeli apartheid policies) and then an excellent final chapter that avoids a self-righteous masterplan to bring peace, but instead describes the resistance against apartheid in Palestine and informs the reader of organisations working on the ground to fight the occupation. The book ends with a superb Frequently Asked Questions section which helps to clarify accusations that were not covered in the book.

It would be unfair to simply characterise this book as a condensed amalgamation of up to date scholarship on the occupation. There are some interesting facts regarding the extent of collaboration between Israel and apartheid South Africa. A 1970s state banquet in Israel for South African prime minister John Vorster, once a Nazi sympathiser in the Second World War, in which a toast was raised to "the ideals shared" by both countries, was a particularly telling incident.

The book is also littered with first hand experiences from Palestinians. This is crucial, as so much work on Palestine becomes dehumanised in a sea of depressing facts and figures, forgetting the human consequences of the reality.

This book is crucial for newcomers to the issue of Palestine. Every school or FE student should get a copy, and teachers should be encouraging teenagers to read this immediately. It is not too pedantic or overly academic to put off people new to the subject.

Now more than ever the issue of Palestine needs to move away from being a debate, and turn to a focus on activism, in particular the boycott and sanctions movement.

Israeli Apartheid goes a long way in helping that process along, so veterans of the solidarity movement should use this as a weapon in the struggle to free Palestine.