Check It Out: Alice Rothchild's On the Brink

by Alan Goodman | September 1, 2014 | Revolution Newspaper |


Alice Rothchild's On the Brink

Alice Rothchild's new book, On the Brink: Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion (Just World Press, 2014), is drawn from journal entries written while the author was in the West Bank region of Palestine on the eve of the savage massacre of the Palestinian people in Gaza in July and August of 2014—slaughter enabled and backed financially, militarily, and diplomatically by the United States.

Alice Rothchild is a physician, an author, a journalist and a long-time activist. Introducing the book in the context of the current Israeli massacre in Gaza, she writes "the very idea that Jewish suffering and Jewish exceptionalism gives 'us' the right to eliminate or oppress another people, created the environment for this explosion. This is not about the last ten or twenty years, this is about the very unsettling consequences of Zionism itself."

And she adds, "I have come to these conclusions by witnessing the facts on the ground, asking difficult questions, challenging myself beyond my comfort zones and yes, seeing myself in the eyes of my so called enemy."

Alice Rothchild invites readers to walk with her on "a challenging and empowering journey to a more honest place, where the potential for lasting political and social change is grounded in our common humanity and the recognition of injustices wherever and to whomever they may fall."

Take her up on that invitation.

The iconic concrete, eight-meter-high separation wall in Qalqilya (a Palestinian city in the West Bank region of Palestine), with security cameras and guard towers, changed the drainage and created areas of open sewerage, which floods during the rain, and confiscated massive amounts of agricultural land, undermining the local economy and creating an enormous urban prison.
Photo: Alice Rothchild / On the Brink - Israel and Palestine on the Eve of the 2014 Gaza Invasion

The heart of On the Brink is this journey—full of unexpected vignettes and unsparing insights that dig beneath the surface and bring to life the real nature and role of Israel. Every Palestinian man we meet seems to have served harsh time in Israeli prisons for suspected involvement in resistance. (Eight hundred thousand Palestinians have been arrested since 1967, 40% of the male population!). In the chapter "Walking with Ghosts"we visit the ruins of Lifta—a thriving center of Palestinian commerce, community and culture, until it was one of the 650 or so Palestinian cities and towns wiped out by Zionist ethnic cleansing. We brave virulent Israeli tear gas and rubber bullets with Palestinians and their allies who attempt to wage peaceful protests. We experience the incessant humiliation of the most overt and obscene Apartheid-style humiliation to which Palestinians are subjected not only every waking hour, but even in late night and early morning raids on their communities and homes. And we confront the genocidal terminology ubiquitous in Israeli culture. (E.g., A "clean area" is a term used by the Israeli military to describe areas where no Palestinians live.)

Over and over again, including through a selection of photos, Alice Rothchild helps shine a light on, helps us feel the ways in which the Nakba— the 1948 orgy of Zionist violence on which the state of Israel was established—casts its dark shadow over the every day lives of every Palestinian. She insists on challenging readers to confront the reality that "the ethnic cleansing of Palestine is an integral part of the history of the creation of the State of Israel, just as much as the history of Native Americans or African slaves is part of US history. There is no 'dual narrative' here. The Nakba is not an alternative history.... It is a story that must be heard."

What emerges is a piercingly subversive critique of the legitimacy of a state based on ethnic cleansing.

Check it out!

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