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    The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World

    Avi Shlaim. The Iron Wall: Israel and the Arab World. New York: W.W.Norton, 2001


    It is difficult for a book on the conflict between Israel and Palestine or in broader terms, between Israel and the Arab countries, to become a classic. But that is what has happened to this book written by Avi Shlaim ten years ago. It is recommended by Jewish and Palestinian, American and European historians, revisionists and new historians, politicians and academics... as well as activists. This is for various reasons. First, the references to new evidence and the original testimony from central figures are overwhelming. Second, the author's ability to explain a complex conflict will fascinate a demanding reader eager for enthralling stories. Finally, the argument that the strategy of the Israeli hawks has imposed itself in the country's relationship with the Arab world is convincing, and some would say, even inevitable.

    The history of Israel can therefore be seen as the construction of a large iron wall facing its neighbours that gets bigger, higher and thicker, longer and more opaque every day, despite the chinks giving grounds for optimism that have occasionally been visible. In this context, the author shows us that the various players in the international arena and in the Arab world, and the representatives of the Palestinian people in particular, have no more than secondary roles in a story in which the main action takes place inside the Jewish state, between hawks and doves, with doves that turn into hawks and hawks that turn into doves.

    The magnificent version in Spanish (El Muro de Hierro), translated by Regina Reyes and Bernardino León is worthy of particular mention.

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    The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire

    Cynthia Enloe. The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire. Berkley: University of California Press, 2004.

    In this elaborate collection of articles, short essays, dialogues and works in progress feminist political scientist and international relations analyst Cynthia Enloe takes us on an interesting journey into the lives of women living in the era of American imperialism. Through these texts Enloe exhibits what "asking feminist questions can reveal?"- hence the Curious feminist. Through her unique analysis of international politics she develops new ideas on identity, power, and the social construction of relationships and she links them to "grand" ideas in international relations: military, foreign policy and globalization.

    In her feminist exploration Enloe presents a multi-level approach to analyzing international politics through which she exposes sophisticated connections between the brand name on university sports teams' sneakers, corporation owners, army generals and Korean daughters for example. She takes a new approach to understanding globalization by weaving in the needed awareness of gendered constructions and constructed gender; something she also does in her analysis of wartime rapes or state inter-relations for example.

    Cynthia Enloe uses a causal and ironic tone throughout her work as she shows us why feminist questions matter and why the gendered perspective is necessary. She presents an alternative type of foreign policy investigation in her descriptions of relations between the US and its allies and foes. She offers an indispensable analysis, which at times is hard to follow as she divulges the intricacies of international relations that are often forgotten or ignored. Her work appeals to an audience with an established understanding of either feminism or international politics.

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    Brookings Institution

    The Brookings Institution is one of the most internationally renowned think tanks. It was created in 1916 by Robert S. Brookings, and today it works in the field of research and training in the social sciences, with particular focus on public policy in the USA. It has traditionally been linked to America's Democratic Party, and the majority of its directors have occupied important posts in various Democratic administrations. Its slogan is: quality, independence, impact.

    One of its most important programs focuses on foreign policy. The programme has two main objectives: global understanding of the world and the challenges that it presents for the international community; and influencing policies and institutions in order to promote sustainable prosperity, security and peace in the world.

    This programme includes the creation of security indexes for countries in the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan), with updated details on their situation.

    The focus of this think tank has sought to counteract the strong influence on North American foreign policy exerted by the neoconservative research centres (such as Project for the New American Century and the Center for a New American Security).