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Jonathan Pearlman

Jonathan Pearlman is the editor of Australian Foreign Affairs and is a correspondent for the Telegraph (UK) and the Straits Times (Singapore). 

Jonathan Pearlman reviews ‘The Jewish Century’ by Yuri Slezkine

June–July 2005, no. 272 01 June 2005
Fortunately, only a part of this book (the inferior part) attempts to take on the impossible task implied by its title and first sentence: the task of explaining how, or whether, the Modern Age is the Jewish Age. Nor, to its credit, does the book try to smother its failure in irony. It really means to take this task on. When it does so, particularly in the opening chapters, it lapses into obscurit ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews ‘Men And Women of Australia!’: Our greatest modern speeches’ edited by Michael Fullilove

December 2005–January 2006, no. 277 01 December 2005
There was no chaplain aboard the troopship Transylvania as it travelled across the Mediterranean Sea for France in 1916, so the sermon was left to Frank Bethune, a Tasmanian clergyman and private soldier. Bethune rose on the promenade deck and informed the soldiers that, god-fearing or not, they were righting a great wrong and were not heroes, but men. ‘What else do we wish except to go straight ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews ‘Beyond Chutzpah: On the misuse of anti-semitism and the abuse of history’ by Norman G. Finkelstein and ‘Israel’s Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood’ by Idith Zertal

August 2006, no. 283 19 March 2024
Beyond chutzpah is a long, tedious and barely readable rant, known less for its content than for the childless controversy it succeeded in provoking. Despite the promise of its subtitle, the book makes no meaningful attempt to describe or to understand the misuses of anti-Semitism. It is, instead, an obsessive assault on another book, The Case For Israel (2003), by the Harvard law professor Alan D ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews 'Australia and the Middle East: A front-line relationship' edited by Fethi Mansouri

December 2006–January 2007, no. 287 01 December 2006
In recent years, particularly since the Tampa and children overboard incidents and the 9/11 attacks, there has been a marked change in public and political perceptions of Middle Eastern migrants and the Arab–Australian community. In August 2001, for instance, the chair of a parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s relations with the Middle East, David Jull, introduced the committee’s report wi ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews 'The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State' by Noah Feldman

June 2008, no. 302 01 June 2008
In his final, unfinished opus, the German writer Max Weber presented his exemplar of irrational, arbitrary law-making by describing an image of a Muslim qadi, or judge, sitting beneath a palm tree, dispensing justice as he saw fit. Later, as scholars began to examine Western portraits of the east – particularly in the wake of Edward Said’s critique of Orientalism – Weber’s description was ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews 'Innocent Abroad: An intimate account of American peace diplomacy in the Middle East' by Martin Indyk

May 2009, no. 311 01 May 2009
As Israel began its assault on Gaza last year, the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, launched the offensive by declaring: ‘There is a time for calm and a time for fighting.’ His declaration alluded to Ecclesiastes, but overturned the order of the verse. Not so long ago, however, in an era that has since been largely misrepresented by its detractors, there was a time for peace; a time when, ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews 'Righteous Violence: The Ethics and Politics of Military Intervention' edited by Tony Coady and Michael O’Keefe and 'A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War In Iraq' edited by Thomas Cushman

October 2005, no. 275 01 October 2005
The fears and tensions in the aftermath of September 11 created an unusual political climate in the US, in which it became possible for the government to lead an invasion without having to explain precisely why. Nobody seemed to quite know who or what was guiding the administration as it led the charge for war: was it utopian neo-conservatives trying to reshape the world in America’s image? Was ... (read more)

'Furore in Israel: Suspicion and defensiveness after the 'Freedom Flotilla'' by Jonathan Pearlman

July–August 2010, no. 323 01 July 2010
As with so many of the events that mark Israel’s history, the deadly attack on the Gaza flotilla in late May seemed frustratingly – and tragically – to encapsulate many of the arguments, insecurities, defences, and emotions that swirl around the enduring conflict in the Middle East. At first, the result and immediate consequences of the confrontation aboard the Mavi Marmara appeared relativ ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews 'T.S. Eliot: Lives and legacies' by Craig Raine

June 2007, no. 292 01 June 2007
At about the time that he was preparing the final drafts of The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot was preoccupied by a separate, but no less overwhelming question: when to sell his shares in the Hydraulic-Press Brick Company. In October 1922, the month the poem was published in the periodical he edited, the Criterion, Eliot wrote to his brother, Henry: ‘For myself, the important point is that Hydraulic sho ... (read more)

Jonathan Pearlman reviews 'Like Us: How arrogance is dividing Islam and the West' by Waleed Aly

December 2007–January 2008, no. 297 01 December 2007
There is only one verse in the Koran that deals with suicide. Its content seems pretty clear: ‘Do not kill yourselves’ (4:29). Of course, the verse has not stopped waves of Muslim suicide bombers in the past twenty-five years. Nor has it stopped a smattering of extremist Muslim clerics from using the Koran to promote or justify suicide missions. Their somewhat contorted reasoning usually goes ... (read more)