BOOK REVIEW: Definitely Worth the Read! A Book of Startling Depth and Impact. This is without question an important book. It is both a fascinating account of one man s journey from ignorance and fear to knowledge and compassion, as well as a meticulous documentation of the principle facts of the Israel-Palestine conflict. It is very well written and carries the reader along effortlessly (if not frighteningly so as the book proceeds into the darker realms of Israel s policies in the Occupied Territories). I am not sure how this book will affect the reader who is a staunch supporter of Israel. From my experience, such people are usually immune to taking a hard look at what Israel is doing. However, if any book can persuade them, then I think this book has the best chance. Because Forer never writes academically, but always brings the discussion back to himself and what he underwent and the blind spots he had before his transformation, the narrative helps the reader to also begin to look and feel the real dimensions of the conflict both the external historical conflict, and the internal personal conflict. There is one part of this book that deserves further comment because it is totally unique. It appears that when Forer made a commitment to discover the truth of the Israel-Palestine conflict, his actual intention was rather modest. He embarked on a research project into the real documentation of the history of the conflict. He simply got some of the better books on the conflict, sat down and read them and meticulously checked their sources and general veracity. Such research was not a small task, but, nevertheless, not dissimilar to what others have done. Essentially, he was after the truth with a small t. But what happened to him was something quite extraordinary. Because the information he was discovering was so contrary to what he had held true and so challenged his identity, which was locked with Israel, he underwent a crisis in consciousness that undermined completely the limitations of his presumed identity, so that he awoke to what he is in Truth. The transformation that Forer talks about is a spiritual one. He discovered Truth with a capital T. There exist other accounts of somewhat similar crises of identity that ended with a spiritual breakthrough; however, I am not aware of any that have occurred in the context of what began as a political issue, or, more precisely, the search for truth in a political context. Thus, I think this book adds to the history of man s spiritual evolution. Forer treads lightly when he discusses the ultimate implications of what he underwent. Indeed, the chapter where he explores the subject is in an addendum at the end of the book. Perhaps he felt that the average reader would not have much familiarity with or sympathy for the spiritual dimensions of his transformation. That chapter should not be missed, however. It is short but remarkably cogent, and sheds considerable light on the real journey to humanity that awaits every one of us. It is a beautiful vision of life lived in Truth and full of compassion. –Tony Sandford, Legal Consultant and Publisher
BOOK REVIEW BY FORMER WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT HELEN THOMAS:
Hats off to Richard Forer who courageously and truthfully examines an alternate viewpoint in his book, Breakthrough: Transforming Fear Into Compassion – A New Perspective on the Israel-Palestine Conflict.
Forer who grew up in a secular, unaffiliated Jewish home, is the identical twin of a prominent member of an ultra-Orthodox sect of Judaism, and was himself a member of AIPAC, America’s Pro-Israel lobby. He knew where his allegiances lay – anything Israel did was justifiable in his mind. During the summer of 2006, Forer visited the Middle East and underwent a profound spiritual transformation. He saw destroyed villages, displacement, land confiscation, imprisonment without trial, torture, and other inhuman treatment of the Palestinians, and knew he needed to share his truth.
So many Americans of Hebrew heritage cannot face the truth of the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians in the land they conquered, and now occupy. Richard Forer emerged from the painful struggle and realization that he could have been wrong. The truth hurts. But it takes brave people who are willing to abandon long held beliefs that the Israelis could do no wrong. Somehow their victimhood justified their ruthless behavior toward the Palestinians.
The trouble is the Israeli military have taken their revenge out on those who are only defending their land and rights. Revenge has been inflicted on the helpless and the innocent.
The power of the Israeli government is one-sided because no American President has dared to speak out against their inhuman tyranny, except for former President Jimmy Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. For this he has been demonized and called anti-Semitic by supporters of Israel.
Abe Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, posted a book review of Carter’s book “Palestine Peace Not Apartheid” on the Anti-Defamation League website, shortly after it was published. In Forer’s book, he spends 41 pages meticulously discussing Foxman’s review of the book and says, “The review illustrates how unexamined fear and prejudice occlude natural intelligence. It also illustrates how insensitive to the suffering of others a man can become when faced with an issue that directly challenges his identity, even when that man has been an undeniable champion of human rights in other areas of his life.”
Forer isn’t afraid to speak out in his book. Forer recounts the story of 10 year old Palestinian Ahmed Musa who asked after drawing a picture of two flags, one Israeli the other Palestinian, “Why can’t we live together in peace?” His fellow students all cheered. “On July, 29, 2008, at a peaceful demonstration against the separation wall, Ahmed was playing with a camera. An Israeli border police officer shot him in the head. He died a few days later.”The Israelis did indict the officer for negligent manslaughter. But only a small fraction of violence toward Palestinians is ever investigated. The Israeli record of brutality is overwhelming.
The pro-Israeli Americans in our universities have made a joke of academic freedom. Norman Finkelstein of DePaul University was essentially denied tenure for his compassionate views of the suffering of the Palestinians.
Forer comments, “The condemnation of Israel is not a product of anti-Semitism. Rather, the behavior that elicited the condemnation fans the flames of anti-Semitism worldwide. ..Israel has been maintaining an illegal occupation, replete with land seizure, collective punishment and settler-instigated and military-enabled violence for over forty years. Yet, it continues to deny that it has violated international humanitarian law. By persisting in ‘acts of madness’ Israel will alienate itself more and more from the global community.”
People need to be informed so we can make good decisions regarding our involvement in the Middle East, and ultimately support the right governments. Forer offers a viewpoint that is not available in the mainstream.
I personally have experienced the backlash of publically speak out against Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. The President of Wayne State University in Detroit took my name off of a scholarship fund because I denounced Israel’s brutality against Palestinians. The Society of Professional Journalists, headed by an Israeli-born President, has retired a lifetime achievement award given in my name, because of my pro-Palestinian views. The White House Correspondents Association “firmly dissociated itself’ from comments I made last May to a Rabbi at the White House – these were my opinions, I wasn’t asking anyone to endorse my statements. All of these organizations have bowed to pro-Israeli lobbyists such as Ari Fleischer, and Abe Foxman of the ADL, who have displayed incredible influence against our first amendment right to speak freely.
A rabbi who spoke at the Martin Luther King March on Washington in 1963 said that the greatest sin of all during the Nazi era was “silence”. He had been in a German concentration camp for years.
I admire Forer’s courage to not being silent. He openly shares his personal transformation, and encourages the reader to be willing to “assess one’s beliefs with honesty and to follow wherever the facts lead”.
For all of that, we are witnessing great courage in the Middle East and North Africa these days. The truth cannot be silenced.
BOOK REVIEW: Ever wonder what goes on inside the head of a Zionist? Anyone who is concerned about the Palestine-Israel conflict, about the Middle East, who has heard about the influence of the Zionist lobby on US politics, has probably wondered why so many people support Israel unconditionally. And if the way to achieve peace in the Middle East is to convince people who think Israel can do no wrong to take a hard look at the facts, to convince them to learn what happened during the bloody formation of Israel, to make them see what is still happening to the Palestinian people today, you might want to know what makes a Zionist tick. Richard Forer is one of those people who is very reflective, very self analytical. In telling the story of how he himself went from being a die hard supporter of Israel, from someone raised in a Reform Jewish household who saw Israel as that plucky little democracy trying to provide a secure home for the long-beleaguered Jews, to someone who now supports the Palestinians in their struggle for justice, he provides us with an inside look into the mind of a Zionist — his own — and how being confronted with the more grim reality changed his mind. Forer may have had in mind as one of his main audiences Jews like himself, or rather, like he was, whose uncritical loyalty to Israel has come to be a liability for Israel, since the rest of the world is slowly but surely learning the truth about Israel. But the book goes beyond that. As someone who has followed the Palestinian struggle myself for several years now, I have come across many stories of the different tragedies that happened to the Palestinians, the massacres, the dispossessions, the theft of water resources, the home demolitions, and the different propaganda techniques Israel and its supporters use to cover up Israel’s actions, to divert attention, to delay the peace process while more Israeli settlements are built and more land is confiscated. In Forer’s book I have found a concise and inclusive account of all it. In describing the succession of injustices done to the Palestinians, he provides a comprehensive history of the formation of Israel, and a vivid description of the Palestinians plight up to the current moment. It’s all here in one place. In laying out this story, in explaining the deep, emotionally rooted motivations behind Zionism, in explaining how Israeli propaganda works, Forer actually points the way toward a resolution. But as part of that resolution, Zionism and its myths must be confronted, and here are the all facts you’d need to counter any Zionist’s argument. It’s the best argument against Zionism I have ever read. –Frank Conway, Bubba Muntzer Blog