Even though I’m hosting the 2013 Middle East Reading Challenge, sadly so far this year I haven’t read a lot of qualifying books. In previous years when Helen hosted the challenge I did a pretty good job reading and reviewing books about this turbulent region. However, this year with me at the helm my contribution level has been pretty mediocre. But all is not lost. With the year about half over, I’m hoping to turn things around a bit. I currently have a small catch of applicable books in my possession that I’d like to have read and reviewed before the end of the 2013. So, before I’m overcome by the demon of writer’s block (as well as the irresistible pull of happy hour at my local watering hole) let me get things rolling with a review.
Over the course of this blog’s existence I’ve read and reviewed a number of books from Greenhaven Press. When it comes to their Opposing Viewpoints and Current Controversies series over the long haul I’ve had pretty good luck with their books covering subjects like Iran, Islam, Pakistan and Afghanistan. While these collections of opinion pieces, speeches and the like might not possess the depth and sophistication that I would prefer, nevertheless I found them to be adequate introductory and supplementary resources.
One such offering from Greenhaven Press is The Middle East Peace Process: Opposing Viewpoints. Published in 2010, as one would guess by its title, The Middle East Peace Process is a look at the peace process from differing viewpoints. Just like all the books from the two series, each chapter is devoted to a specific controversy. In this case, we have the following chapters:
- What Issues Are Contributing to the Present Conflict in the Middle East?
- Did Human Rights Violations Take Place in Gaza?
- How Great is the Danger of Nuclear War in the Middle East?
- What is the Future of the Middle East Peace Process?
Overall, I thought this particular anthology was kinda so-so. Even though Rachel Tabachnik’s piece on the hazards of Christian Zionism and Michael Raska’s analysis of the Iranian nuclear program ended up being my favorites of the book, I thought neither one struck me as truly exceptional. While it wasn’t my favorite piece, since I found her analysis intelligent and even-handed, I liked Barbara Crossette’s critical assessment of the UN-sponsored Goldstone Report on Israeli atrocities committed during the recent Gaza War. Just like with past books from Greenhaven Press, the more nuanced the opinion piece the more I enjoyed it. Conversely, the angrier and more polemical offerings (like Ilan Pappe’s on the Gaza War) tended to turn me off.
I think my biggest problem with The Middle East Peace Process is it feels a bit dated. With all of the pieces published in 2009 or earlier, there’s nothing addressing recent developments like the Arab Spring or the push for Palestinian statehood. Plus, since these books from Greenhaven Press are intended for upper division high school and lower division college students, I’m wondering if I’m starting to outgrow them. I guess only time will tell.