David writes to tell me he's recently back from China. Of all the websites he frequents, only two were blocked inside China: Facebook, and Yaacov Lozowick's Ruminations. Now it's true that the other Yaacov Lozowick is a legendary anti-Chinaman, but you'd think those censors would be able o see that this isn't his blog.
Longtime Ruminations' reader AKUS has done a spot of research and made a short film about Lauren Booth, a British journalist who seems not to be a Zionist. I'm not certain why he singled her out - I mean, you walk down Fleet Street and throw a brick at random and you'll hit a gaggle of such people, but perhaps he'll be making films about each one. He'll need lots of free time, poor bloke.
The Jewish Review of Books has a new edition up, here. I read the review by Walter Russel Mead on Shalom Goldman's book Zeal for Zion: Christians, Jews, and the Idea of the Promised Land.Mead points out that until recently, Jews and Jewish historians were not noticing the Christians who contributed significantly to the success of Zionsim; Goldman's book is part of a corrective trend. I can certainly plead guilty to Mead's point, though in recent times I"m moving in the opposite direction, and am beginning to say that Israel needs to maintain better relations with its Christian supporters, since there are a lot more of them than the Jewish ones, and their support apparently isn't wavering.
Then I read Robert Chazan's interesting review of Rodney Stark's God's Battalions: The Case for the Crusades and Jonathan Riley-Smith's The Crusades: A History. Stark has apparently written a lawyer's defense of the Crusaders, which makes for bad history because lawyers marshal their facts to the benefit of their client, and un-marshall the inconvenient ones (think of Glenn Greenwald). Riley-Smith, however apparently manages to do history at it's best, meaning to detach the events from a contemporary political use:
Riley-Smith's reflections on the afterlife of crusading are just as cogent, especially with regard to the image of the Crusades in the 19th-century. Romantic misrepresentations of crusading came in two varieties in that period. In one, crusading represented the efforts of a more advanced society to bring its advantages to the backward Islamic world; in the other, the barbarous warriors of the West sought to impose their will on the cultured sphere of Islam. Both the modern Islamic world and the modern West have absorbed these distorted 19th-century perspectives, with harmful results. The juxtaposition of crusading and imperialism has created a counter-juxtaposition of anti-imperialism and anti-Christianity, which has become a powerful force in the contemporary Islamic world. In the West, a corresponding counter-rhetoric has emerged, of which Stark's book is an apparent example. Here is a case where actual historical understanding could serve useful political ends. As Riley-Smith writes:
We cannot hope to understand the circumstances in which we find ourselves unless we are prepared to face up to the fact that modern Western public opinion, Arab Nationalism, and Pan-Islamism all share perceptions of crusading that have more to do with nineteenth-century European imperialism than with actuality.
Finally, Shlomo Avineri, an old-school Zionist of the left, explains that nationalism isn't going away, and bi-national countries don't work. Though to be fair, I don't think anyone who supports a bi-national solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict expects it to work. The whole point is to have no Jewish state. Once that's achieved, the Jews can be expected to leave, just as the Arab Christians left, leaving a Palestinian state with some residual Jews - who will probably be tolerated, why not?