Bernard Avishai and the London Review of Books

Bernard Avishai is the author of several well regarded books on Israel and Zionism. I reviewed his most recent work, The Hebrew Republic, for the New York Times/International Herald Tribune. It argued that Israel should be, as the title suggests, a secular Hebrew Republic. I thought it was an important contribution to the debate about Israel’s future. Numerous commentators here strongly disagreed with me, and a lively thread resulted.

Anyway, we have had that discussion. Whatever you think of Avishai’s work, it is disturbing to read on his blog the fate of his review of Avi Shlaim’s new biography of King Hussein, scheduled, proofed and galleyed, ready to run in the London Review of Books. Avishai writes:

Anyway, Jordan remains the place where many of the real leaders of a future Palestinian state are building the business and political connections Palestine will need. They will be natural partners with both Israeli entrepreneurs and Ramallah’s and East Jerusalem’s leaders. The king’s determination to use his prerogatives to secure a moderate, Western-leaning regime is responsible for this bourgeois revolution. He doesn’t get enough credit for it.

This line of thinking does not, as we well know, fall within the current London literati bien-pensant view of Israel. Avishai’s review was pulled at the last moment, and replaced with an account, as he puts it, of ‘how Israelis are shooting up Gaza’. You can read the full review instead at The Nation. The Nation is no great friend of Israel, but at least it has room for dissenting voices.

Hat tip: Clive Davis.