Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Clash of Identities: Explorations in Israeli and Palestinian Societies

Academic journal article Middle East Quarterly

Clash of Identities: Explorations in Israeli and Palestinian Societies

Article excerpt

Clash of Identities: Explorations in Israeli and Palestinian Societies. By Baruch Kimmerling. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008. 429 pp. $55 ($27.50, paper).

If you are looking for a numbingly unreadable book of anti-Israel diatribes written by a deceased sociologist with Marxist tendencies, you can do no better (or worse?) than Clash of Identities. Kimmerling, who died in 2007, devoted his long career as a sociologist to doing little sociology while preening as a New Historian. Clash of Identities is the reprint of twelve previously published articles venting against Israel and Zionism.

Just about everything that was wrong with Kimmerling's work as an academic is on display in this new book, which is long on diatribe but short on evidence. Data and numbers are almost completely missing. Other than a few tables from a questionable public opinion survey, nothing is measured quantitatively in this supposed investigation of identity.

Kimmerling seems to have had little interest in measurement and analysis and seemed more interested in preaching and advocating. He saw himself as a historian of the Palestinian people, seeing shades of Palestinian identity decades, even centuries, before the U.N. partition vote of 1 947. Ironically, when he actually stumbled across evidence of importance, he tended to ignore what it actually showed. Thus, in describing the birth of Palestinian national identity, he mentions petitions sent to British authorities in the 1920s by thousands of Palestinian intellectuals and professionals, demanding to be made Syrian citizens. …

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