Grab the nearest book

Cover_pappe_ethnic_cleansingBy Robert Silvey

I’ve been in hibernation for the last few months, barely surviving another bleak Bushy winter, but today the intimations of spring in California—and of hopeful Obamamania throughout this fair land—have drawn me out of my lair to join the fun here at S&R. I do want to start again with something easy, and fortunately I found an amusing blog meme at Crooked Timber that looks like just the ticket. Now I know you’re not supposed to pick a meme randomly out of the digital ether, and Eszter Hargittai did not actually tag me, but I’m going to carry on anyway, as though all the webby proprieties had been observed.


  1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long).
  2. Open to p. 123.
  3. Go down to the 5th sentence.
  4. Type in the following 3 sentences.
  5. Tag five people.

The nearest book to my chaotic desk is Ilan Pappé’s The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Page 123 is toward the end of chapter 5, “The Blueprint for Ethnic Cleansing: Plan Dalet.” Here are the three sentences:

US representatives on the ground were by now fully aware of the expulsions that were going on and had suggested to their chiefs back home to halt the implementation of the partition plan and try to work towards an alternative solution.

Already by 12 March 1948, the State Department had drafted a new proposal to the UN, which suggested an international trusteeship over Palestine for five years, during which the two sides would negotiate an agreed solution. It has been suggested that this was the most sensible American proposal ever put forward in the history of Palestine, the like of which, alas, was never repeated.

Well, that cries out for some amplification, don’t you think? A complete book review, perhaps, in light of George Bush’s long record of nonproposals and half-hearted mummeries. Some thoughts about related books might be in order: Jimmy Carter’s Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, or Mearshimer and Walt’s The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, or the essay collection Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory.

Another day, perhaps. It’s not an easy subject any time for Americans, but particularly today, the day of Tom Lantos’s death. Lantos was the only survivor of the Nazi Holocaust to serve in the US Congress, and he was unbending—understandably so—in his attachment to the founding myth of an innocent Israel. Over the years he was an obstacle to reexamining US policy in the Middle East, though, as Steve Clemons writes at TPMCafe, he had recently become more amenable to real negotiations in the region, more open to alternative approaches to Israeli security. As, we hope, the next president will be.

Well, back to the meme. Like Eszter, I wasn’t tagged, so it’s not my place to tag five more bloggers. But I will just pass this idea along through the tubes of the Internets to anyone else who might find it an amusing pastime—perhaps some fellow Scrogues. And I give you license to tag five more.

So let’s meme! Grab the nearest book and see what you find.

Update: As Sam comments, we were in fact tagged by Sean-Paul at The Agonist yesterday, so I guess that means we have to do our part. Okay, having quoted the inimitable Steve Clemons, here’s a tag for him over at The Washington Note. Then, to spread the net far and wide, tags also to Waveflux, The Osterley Times, The Mahatma X Files, and MuzzleWatch. Grab the nearest book!

6 replies »

  1. Mine’s from “Space Physiology” from Jay C. Buckey, Jr. Here are the sentences:

    “The semicircular canals are accelerometers. Angular accelerations of the head will stimulate the canals. If the angular accelerations are prolonged, as happens when rotating in a chair, then the output from the semicircular canals will decline.”

    Feel better now? 🙂 Actually, i have about 20 books about 2 feet from my head, so I just picked one of em at random…