It started in Birmingham at ‘Waterstones’ in New Street, moving then to ‘Borders’ in the Bull Ring Centre and then to the other ‘Waterstones’ and the following day there I was in ‘Waterstones’ in Liverpool and today a couple more ‘Waterstones’ in Glasgow and sandwiched somewhere in between Glasgow University bookshop. Military history seems to be very popular in the United Kingdom and there are all sorts of “works” on the brave lads who are fighting and have fought their sometimes illegal and sometimes dirty wars here, there and everywhere. conspicuous is the absence of Norman Finkelstein, although I did see a copy of ‘Beyond Chutzpah’ in’Borders, Jonathan Cook is nowhere to be seen, yet I did manage to buy his books in English, in Munich and I was really more or less giving up on Ilan Pappe until I did see one copy of ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ in that second Waterstones in Glasgow. Lots and lots of regurgitated drivel on the Third Reich, Anthony Beevor, Richard Overy, that sort of thing and, of course, the Zionist version of their little land grab; Benny Morris, Tom Segev, the usual suspects but some new ones to be added and there was me confronted with a certain Leslie Stein who informs me that plucky little Israel has fought three wars against the Arabs, without telling me that plucky little Israel started all three, and that our plucky, plucky, little “Jewish Democracy” has also had to deal with a “problematic Arab minority” . Of course, Leslie’s “problematic minority” is made up of those third class citizens who are waiting to join their Palestinian brothers and sisters either in the diaspora or in the iron cage that is the “Bantustan” awaiting them on the West Bank.
Maybe the bookshops in “Blighty” were always like this or maybe, just maybe, I have become a little bit more selective in my reading and a little bit more enlightened in my thinking. One thing, however, is for sure, even at the educated, literate, end of the scale, in the land of hope and glory most of the people really do have their heads full of mince. Still, a ray of hope was sighted and somewhere in the bookshelves I did catch sight of Chomsky on a hopeless mission with his “Manufacturing Consent” and dare I say it consent has already been manufactured, tastes determined and the battle lost as the “discerning” reader who only wants to know a little bit more drifts past the sole copy of Ilan Pappe to pick up one of many books by Benny Morris on display to get his or her more in-depth knowledge of what is happening in the Middle East. Genuine intellectual ambience is not easy to find anywhere, it would appear that during the next ten weeks in the United Kingdom that is a constant that will remain at least stable.
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