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The Ultimate Deal

Henry Siegman: The Two-State Solution, 30 March 2017

... only way he will be able do it. Nevertheless, Trump’s appointment as his ambassador to Israel of David Friedman, a long-time contributor to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and an unhinged right-winger who has accused Israeli and American Jewish supporters of a two-state solution as being ‘worse than kapos’, hardly supports the notion ...

Inhumane, Intolerant, Unclean

Ian Gilmour, 31 October 1996

A History of Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths 
by Karen Armstrong.
HarperCollins, 474 pp., £20, July 1996, 0 00 255522 0
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Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years 
by Israel Shahak.
Pluto, 118 pp., £11.99, April 1994, 9780745308180
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City of the Great King: Jerusalem from David to the Present 
edited by Nitza Rosovsky.
Harvard, 562 pp., £25.50, April 1996, 0 674 13190 8
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Jerusalem in the 20th Century 
by Martin Gilbert.
Chatto, 400 pp., £20, May 1996, 0 7011 3070 9
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Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict 
by Norman Finkelstein.
Verso, 230 pp., £39.95, December 1995, 1 85984 940 7
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To Rule Jerusalem 
by Roger Friedland and Richard Hecht.
Cambridge, 554 pp., £29.95, June 1996, 0 521 44046 7
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... its inhabitants have frequently been massacred. Round about 1000 BC, the city was captured by King David. Assuming that he existed – and there is no archaeological or other evidence for him, or for Solomon, Moses or Joshua, outside the Bible, the relevant books of which were written hundreds of years after the events they purport to describe – ...

Aids and the Polio Vaccine

Edward Hooper: New evidence, 3 April 2003

... virus’) must have existed in the 1940s or 1930s. However, in Science last July, Jon Cohen, the magazine’s leading Aids correspondent, wrote about a ‘beautiful study’ of rampant recombination in the spleen of an HIV-infected patient, observing that the research raised ‘serious questions about phylogeny trees that attempt to date the ...

Rancorous Luminaries

R.W. Davies, 28 April 1994

Stalinist Terror: New Perspectives 
edited by J. Arch Getty and Roberta Manning.
Cambridge, 294 pp., £35, September 1993, 0 521 44125 0
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Beria: Stalin’s First Lieutenant 
by Amy Knight.
Princeton, 312 pp., £19.95, January 1994, 0 691 03257 2
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This I Cannot Forget: The Memoirs of Nikolai Bukharin’s Widow 
by Anna Larina.
Hutchinson, 385 pp., £25, March 1994, 0 09 178141 8
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Stalin i Ordzhonikidze: Konflikty v Politbyuro v 30-e gody 
by O.V. Khlevnyuk.
Rossiya Molodaya, 144 pp., December 1993, 5 86646 047 5
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... Then in the Seventies, Moshe Lewin’s work on Russian peasants and Soviet society and Stephen Cohen’s outstanding biography of Bukharin presented a Soviet society in flux, and a Communist policy which was not fixed in one mould but contained competing trends within itself. For these historians, Stalin’s victory at the end of the Twenties over the more ...

Provenly Unprovable

Solomon Feferman: Can mathematics describe the world?, 9 February 2006

Incompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel 
by Rebecca Goldstein.
Norton, 224 pp., $13.95, February 2006, 0 393 32760 4
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... of the second requires much more delicate work). We would not have had Gödel paired with Paul Cohen – who proved the independence of the Axiom of Choice twenty years after Gödel’s failed efforts – as if they were colleagues, or teacher and student (at the time, Cohen was on the faculty at Stanford, on the other ...

Brandenburg’s Dream

Derek Walmsley: Digital Piracy, 7 January 2016

How Music Got Free 
by Stephen Witt.
Bodley Head, 280 pp., £20, June 2015, 978 1 84792 282 3
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... were full of poor quality, often wrongly titled mp3s. A 25-year-old New Yorker called Bram Cohen, a programmer at a short-lived internet start-up, saw an elegant way to improve the system. Each file to be distributed could be split into bits of information, Witt explains, then ‘instead of downloading the entire [song] from one user, you could ...

Balfour, Weizmann and the Creation of Israel

Charles Glass: Palestine, 7 June 2001

One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs under the British Mandate 
by Tom Segev, translated by Haim Watzman.
Little, Brown, 612 pp., £25, January 2001, 0 316 64859 0
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Ploughing Sand: British Rule in Palestine 1917-48 
by Naomi Shepherd.
Murray, 290 pp., £12.99, September 2000, 0 7195 6322 4
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... portray the Zionist pioneers waging a war of independence against the British oppressor. Jon and David Kimche provided a good example of the conventional Israeli analysis of British policy in Both Sides of the Hill: Britain and the Palestine War (1960). ‘It was a mixture of ignorance, blundering, indecision and local bias against the Jews, encouraged by ...

British Worthies

David Cannadine, 3 December 1981

The Directory of National Biography, 1961-1970 
edited by E.T. Williams and C.S. Nicholls.
Oxford, 1178 pp., £40, October 1981, 0 19 865207 0
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... So the majority are actresses (Elsie and Leigh), academics (Cam and Darbishire), artists (Bell, Cohen, Knight) or authors (Allingham, Blyton, Compton-Burnett, Sackville-West and Sitwell), topped off with occasional politicians (Astor, Bonham Carter and Lady Lloyd-George) and royals (Princess Marina, Queen Victoria Eugénie, the Princess Royal). Vera ...

Eric’s Hurt

David Craig, 7 March 1985

Eric Linklater: A Critical Biography 
by Michael Parnell.
Murray, 376 pp., £16, October 1984, 0 7195 4109 3
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... Chinese beauty and the ‘little Jew’ (these really are Linklater’s words) called Isadora Cohen who plays the violin in theatre orchestras, the Republican Presidential candidate called Mr Boomer and the bootlegging ex-boxer called Slummock ... For the reading public in the Thirties (and since), such writing must have come as an exhilarating parade of ...

The Wildest, Highest Places

David Craig, 17 July 1997

John Muir: His Life and Letters and Other Writings 
edited by Terry Gifford.
Baton Wicks, 912 pp., £20, November 1996, 1 898573 07 7
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... to see nature as benign has been called a flaw by his most intelligent critic, Michael Cohen, in The Pathless Way. As we climbed together on a route called Great White Book in the Tuolumne domes east of Yosemite, he told me how Muir was disconcerted by the writhen and stunted junipers rooting in crevices of the granite because they were ...

I’m a Surfer

Steven Shapin: What’s the Genome Worth?, 20 March 2008

A Life Decoded: My Genome: My Life 
by Craig Venter.
Allen Lane, 390 pp., £25, October 2007, 978 0 7139 9724 8
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... at the University of California, San Francisco. Working with the Stanford geneticist Stanley Cohen, Boyer had helped to develop some elegant recombinant DNA technologies which immediately suggested enormous value to the pharmaceutical industry. As was normal at the time, intellectual property rights were assigned to the universities, from the licensing ...

‘Abu Nidal, Abu Shmidal’

Avi Shlaim, 9 May 1991

Israel’s Secret Wars: The Untold History of Israeli Intelligence 
by Ian Black and Benny Morris.
Hamish Hamilton, 603 pp., £20, February 1991, 0 241 12702 5
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... like John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl and Agents of Innocence by the American writer David Ignatius. In recent years, however, a number of scandals have badly tarnished the reputation of Israel’s security services and stimulated calls for greater public accountability. One of the most damaging blows was struck by Victor Ostrovsky – like the ...

The Great Lie

Charles Glass: Israel, 30 November 2000

The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World 
by Avi Shlaim.
Allen Lane, 670 pp., £25, April 2000, 9780713994100
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Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881-1999 
by Benny Morris.
Murray, 752 pp., £25, January 2000, 0 7195 6222 8
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A Blood-Dimmed Tide: Dispatches from the Middle East 
by Amos Elon.
Allen Lane, 354 pp., £20, August 2000, 0 7139 9368 5
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Fabricating Israeli History: The ‘New Historians’ 
by Efraim Karsh.
Frank Cass, 236 pp., £39.50, May 2000, 0 7146 5011 0
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From Herzl to Rabin: The Changing Image of Zionism 
by Amnon Rubinstein.
Holmes & Meier, 283 pp., £25, October 2000, 0 8419 1408 7
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... After. That work made nonsense of the notion, fostered by Israel’s dynamic first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, and his acolytes, that ‘Israel’s leaders sought desperately to make peace with one or all of the Arab states but the Arabs, hell-bent on the destruction of Israel, turned down these overtures and repaid this goodwill with continued ...

Capital Folly

Avi Shlaim: The Jerusalem Syndrome, 21 March 2002

Divided Jerusalem: The Struggle for the Holy City 
by Bernard Wasserstein.
Profile, 420 pp., £9.99, March 2002, 1 86197 333 0
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... transition period. They were belatedly tabled at the summit convened by Bill Clinton at Camp David in July 2000, but Jerusalem was the issue that ultimately led to the failure of the summit and the breakdown of the Oslo peace process. Religious rivalries are notoriously difficult to resolve, and Jerusalem’s spiritual significance for the three great ...

Existence Unperceived

W.D. Hart, 15 October 1981

Philosophical Subjects: Essays Presented to P.F. Strawson 
edited by Zak van Straaten.
Oxford, 302 pp., £12.50, November 1980, 9780198246039
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... in Philosophical Subjects. For some time, John Searle has been in the business of refuting David Hume’s thesis that purely normative or evaluative claims cannot be derived from purely factual claims. This has generated a certain amount of argument in the journals. Jaakko Hintikka is one of Searle’s critics. In ‘Prima-Facie Obligations’, Searle ...

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