Explaining the Israel-Palestine Conflict

The latest Israeli military attacks in Gaza, dubbed 'Operation Protective Edge', is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years. Before the July 2014 offensive, the last large-scale escalation was in November 2012, when the Israeli military bombarded the Gaza Strip with air strikes for eight days. Those strikes killed 171 Palestinians, including more than 100 civilians. In 2008-2009, Israeli soldiers launched a 22-day military operation in Gaza, dubbed Operation Cast Lead. About 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed. [source: Aljazeera]


Tens of thousands of Palestinians have left their houses to seek shelter from an Israeli ground invasion, July 2o014. Photo: Emad Nassar/Al Jazeera

As the latest attacks intensify, and the number of civilian deaths continue to rise, it seems more pertinent than ever to understand the political motivations behind these assaults and, more importantly, how Israel have been able to carry out such atrocities without intervention. Here, we present a list of books from Israeli and Palestinian authors, to explain the conflict and consider what the future might hold.

Myth vs Reality

The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge by Ilan Pappe
"Pappé places Zionism under an uncompromising lens... The Idea of Israel is  a close study of the role of Zionist ideology in the making of modern Israel and of the continuing relevance of this ideology today in politics, the education system, the media, the cinema and Ashkenazi-Sephardi relations." - Avi Shlaim, Guardian

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations
 by Avi Shlaim
“Shlaim does not aim at a comprehensive overview of the conflict so much as a running rebuttal of Israel’s version of it; an insurgency in the public relations war.”  – Observer

The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand
“Perhaps books combining passion and erudition don't change political situations, but if they did, this one would count as a landmark.” – Eric Hobsbawm, Observer

The Invention of the Land of Israel by Shlomo Sand
“His achievement consists in debunking a nationalist mythology which holds sway in large sections of popular opinion. It also normalises Jews, since it challenges the belief in exceptionalism...Truth-telling may be painful but necessary.”– Donald Sassoon, Guardian

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict by Norman G. Finkelstein
“Anyone interested in seeing justice brought to the Middle East must read this book.” – Charles Glass

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering by Norman G. Finkelstein
An iconoclastic and controversial work due to the powerful and rarely discussed issues, Finkelstein's study scrutinises interpretations of the Holocaust that are often at variance with actual historical events. 

“The most controversial book of the year.” – Guardian

Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel by Arno Mayer
"...a sweeping and often illuminating overview of the story of Zionism.” -New Statesman

The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics and Scolarship by Gabriel Piterberg
“Very well-informed, and even fascinating.”  - New Statesman


The Conflict Explained

The Case for Sanctions Against Israel edited by Audrea Lim
“Provides clear arguments for international sanctions against Israel because of its treatment of the Palestinians. This excellent collection of essays is an essential text for anyone interested in why they should support the movement to boycott Israel. The essays are not just good reading; they are also an eloquent call to the world to give a damn.” –  Ron Jacobs, Counterpunch

The Punishment of Gaza by Gideon Levy
“Gideon Levy’s passionate and revealing account is an eloquent, even desperate, call to bring this shocking tragedy to an end, as can easily be done.” – Noam Chomsky

The Least of All Possible Evils by Eyal Weizman
“Eyal Weizman’s work has become an indispensable source of both insight and guidance in these difficult times. He understands the evolving dynamics of war and sovereignty better than anyone.” – Paul Gilroy, Professor of Social History, London School of Economics

The Revenge of History
by Seumas Milne
“Tracking a decade of ruinous lies from the right and unheeded warnings from the left, this is a book with an urgent message: it’s time to win more than arguments.” – Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine


The Conflict Considered

Being Arab by Samir Kassir 

“Measured, critical, self-conscious and excellently written ... this autobiography is also a travelogue, an initiation novel, and a morality play—all in one.” – Shira Stav, Haaretz

A Time to Speak Out: Independent Jewish Voices on Israel, Zionism and Jewish Identity edited by Anne Karpf, Brian Klug, Jacqueline Rose and Barbara Rosenbaum
A collection of strong Jewish voices exploring some of the most provocative topics faced by the Jewish diaspora such as international law, self-hatred, human rights and the multiplicity of the Jewish identity.

Includes contributions from Donald Sassoon, Lynne Segal, Richard Silverstein, Gillian Slovo, Julia Bard, Geoffrey Bindman, Emma Clyne and Eyal Weizman.

Reflections on Anti-Semitism by Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan, and Ivan Segré
Dissecting how facile accusations of "anti-Semitism" are used to stifle dissent.

Hollow Land by Eyal Weizman
Eyal Weizman unravels Israel's mechanisms of control and its transformation of Palestinian towns, villages and roads into an artifice where all natural and built features serve military ends. A terrifying portrayal of urban warfare.

“The most astonishing book on architecture that I have read in years.” – Edwin Heathcote, Financial Times

The Obama Syndrome
by Tariq Ali
Tariq Ali's challenge on the policies of the Obama administration. As the initial election of Obama signalled a political reform, Ali accounts for the escalation of war and conflict in Afghanistan and the continued appeasement of Israel.

If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew by Mike Marqusee
“A fascinating exploration of the Zionism-versus-anti-Zionism debate, to which it adds fire.” – Jewish Chronicle
“…original and urgent… ”  – John Berger

An Orchestra Beyond Borders: Voices of the Western-Eastern Divan Orchestra
by Elena Cheah
“The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra is a beacon of hope on the dismal political landscape of the Middle East ... Raised in enmity, these talented young men and women set an example by their devotion to their common craft. Together they play with wonderful energy and unanimity in an orchestra that is larger than life.” – Avi Shlaim

Mural by Mahmoud Darwish
“The most celebrated writer of verse in the Arab world.” – Adam Shatz, The New York Times

In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story
 
by Ghada Karmi
A powerful biographical story, Ghada Karmi's acclaimed memoir relates her childhood in Palestine, flight to Britain after the catastrophe, and coming of age in Golders Green, the north London Jewish suburb. 

Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward W. Said edited by Basak Ertur and Muge Gursoy Sokmen.
“Edward Said’s anger against injustice must become ours, and his pen that challenged the sword must become our weapon in the battle for human values.” – Elias Khoury

A Child in Palestine: The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali

“This is a ground-breaking book. For the first time, Western readers are beckoned into Palestinian lives by the graphic warmth, inspiration and horror of the cartoonist Naji al-Ali, whose iconic Hanthala is our witness and conscience, imploring, rightly, that we never forget.” – John Pilger

Suffering As Identity: The Jewish Paradigm
by Esther Benbassa
“...Invaluable for both its political deconstruction of victimhood and its recollection of the lesser-known, non-lachrymose history of the Jews.”
“A very solid, important and highly informative book. Norman Finkelstein provides extensive details and analysis, with considerable historical depth and expert research.”  – Noam Chomsky
 
Peace Under Fire: Israel, Palestine and the International Solidarity Movement edited by Josie Sandercock, Radhika Sainath, Marissa McLaughlin, Hussein Khalili, Nicholas Blincoe, Huwaida Arraf, and Ghassan Andoni
The story of the International Solidarity Movement.

The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine since 2003 by Tanya Reinhart
“Tanya Reinhart’s informative and chilling analysis could hardly be more timely. It should be read and considered with care, and taken very seriously.” – Noam Chomsky

A Civilian Occupation: The Politics of Israeli Architecture edited by Rafi Segal and Eyal Weizman
“The first detailed examination of the spatial form of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, examining how their physical layout is informed by the politics behind them.” – Esther Addeley, Guardian

Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War by Baruch Kimmerling
“Insightful, informative, and, yes, judiciously balanced.” – Foreign Affairs

Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah edited by Nicholas Noe

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