Key facets of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been thrust back into a wider public limelight, due to the news that actress Scarlett Johansson has left her role as an Oxfam ambassador. The split comes after criticism over her decision to promote Sodastream, the drinks company which operates out of a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Oxfam opposes all trade with groups based in Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories, creating a confict which has caused a serious rift between the humanitarian group and its celebrity supporter.
"Scarlett Johansson has respectfully decided to end her ambassador role with Oxfam after eight years," said a statement this week. "She and Oxfam have a fundamental difference of opinion in regards to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. She is very proud of her accomplishments and fundraising efforts during her tenure with Oxfam." Vijay Prashad has written in the Guardianthat Johansson's involvement with Sodastream brings much-needed scrutiny to illegal settlement activity and wider Western support for Israel. Once again we see that his is an issue that is not going to go away any time soon.
These are Verso's key books on the Israel-Palestine conflict, from explanations to considered outcomes – what others should we include?
Yesterday, Tariq Ali published an op-ed denouncing possible United States military intervention in Syria. Ali accuses the United States of stretching their intelligence reports as an excuse to further stir the civil war and assist the opposition they had armed. He writes:
The Syrian regime was slowly re-establishing its control over the country against the opposition armed by the West and its tributary states in the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). This situation required correction. The opposition in this depressing civil war needed to be strengthened militarily and psychologically.
With the White House having announced that the recent chemical attacks in Syria were unequivocally the work of the Assad regime, many are anxious to see whether the Obama administration will now pursue the promised military intervention. To elaborate on his editorial piece, Tariq Ali joined Steven Clemons, Washington editor-at-large for The Atlantic, on Democracy Now to discuss who is to blame for the use of chemical weapons in Syria and the politics of a Syrian invasion.
Has the Nobel Peace Prize Committee jumped the shark? In what seemed an early April Fool’s prank, the Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union for, in the words of chairman Thorbjoern Jagland, its historic role in transforming Europe "from a continent of wars to a continent of peace." This honor was bestowed despite the EU’s savage push for immiserizing austerity on Spain, Italy, and Greece—cuts that have led to violence on the streets, and the participation of many of its member states NATO military interventions in Afghanistan and Libya.
To give the prize to the European community, at a time, effectively, when economically, it is promoting unemployment, creating real class divides in virtually every country in Europe, where it has led to enormous violence on the streets of Greece, because of the policies being pushed by the EU ... it is a complete and utter joke.
Verso Books authors will appear on panel discussions alongside over 280 distinguished writers and thinkers at this year's Brooklyn Book Festival, the borough's seventh and largest international literary conference to date. Writers and book enthusiasts are expected to stage a veritable take over of Brooklyn, as the festival has expanded to twelve venues from Willamsburg to Gowanus presenting over 140 panels from September 17-23rd.
From David Harvey on American cities in the new economy, to Simon Crithley on the quest for the conversational sublime and Tariq Ali on the global revolution, we sincerely hope you visit our outstanding authors as they discuss and debate some of the most pressing issues of the moment.
Appearing on The Julian Assange Show alongside renowned linguist and political theorist Noam Chomsky, "street-fighting novelist" Tariq Ali argues the "infectious" Arab Spring has spread to the US and Russia, and is still underway. Criticising the "extreme centre", a political consensus of centrist neoliberal orthodoxy that destroys political diversity and opposition, Ali talks about how the speed and flair of the Arab Spring caught everyone, from dictators and their sponsors to the Western media, by surprise.
Assange, Ali and Chomsky continue to discuss the "new hope" that resides in South America Bolivarian movements, and the democratic crisis in the Eurozone.