Wrong Side of the River
- River Jordan: The Mythology of a Dividing Line by Rachel Havrelock
Chicago, 320 pp, £26.00, December 2011, ISBN 978 0 226 31957 5
Rachel Havrelock’s River Jordan is broad in scope, subtle in interpretive detail and written in lucid prose, with an assured mastery of the relevant scholarship – all the more remarkable because it is her first book. What she has done in effect is to invent a new kind of historical analysis, which I would call cultural cartography, with culture comprising ideology and politics as well as national identity.
Vol. 34 No. 13 · 5 July 2012
From Georgina Baidoun
Robert Alter picks out two asymmetries in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians: the first that the Holocaust trumps the Nakba; the second that only Palestinians have committed the sin – in Gaza – of having a fundamentalist government (LRB, 21 June). This ignores a much greater asymmetry: Israel is a state, Gaza a prison whose borders are controlled by Israel. It is not surprising that prison inmates adopt extreme views about their guards. In any case it isn’t clear to me why the Israeli government is allowed to escape being called ‘fundamentalist’. It insists on strategies ensuring that Jews remain the majority population and determine government policy in perpetuity, while Israel since its creation has worked to secure at least the most conservative of the biblically defined borders described by Alter.