Explaining the Israel-Palestine Conflict

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 Guardian that 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?

The Conflict Explained

The Case for Sanctions Against Israel edited by Audrea Lim
Leading international voices consider all sides of the conflict including boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. With contributions from Angela Davis, John Berger, Naomi Klein, Omar Barghouti, Dalit Baum and Rebecca Vilkomerson.

The Punishment of Gaza by Gideon Levy
The powerful narrative of Israel's invasion and control over Gaza - examining the abandonment of diplomacy in favour of raw military power, turning Gaza into an enormous open-air prison.

“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

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations by Avi Shlaim
A readable and informative account on the conflict, placing current events in their correct historical context.

“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

Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand
The controversial and iconoclastic work of Jewish history by acclaimed Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, tracing the history of modern Jews and theorising Israel's future.

“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

Invention of the Land of Israel
by Shlomo Sand
The bestselling author deconstructs the age-old legends surrounding the Holy Land and the prejudices that continue to suffocate it.

“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

The Least of All Possible Evils by Eyal Weizman
The involvement of the West comes under scrutiny in Weizman's text, exploring an exceptional course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice- the principle of the "lesser evil".

“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

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict
 
by Norman G. Finkelstein
First published in 1995, this acclaimed study challenges generally accepted truths of the Israel-Palestine conflict as well as much of the revisionist literature. This new edition critically re-examines dominant popular and scholarly images in the light of the current failures of the peace process.

“Anyone interested in seeing justice brought to the Middle East must read this book.” – Charles Glass

The Revenge of History
by Seumas Milne
Seumas Milne's revisionist account of the first decade of the 21st Century, the collapse of disastrous dominant Western ideology and its deadly intervention in the conflict of Israel-Palestine and the Middle East.

“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 
 
“This is an unusual book of such fluent and searing honesty that I almost wanted Samir Kassir to be kinder to himself. I salute his memory.” – John Pilger


“In a piercing critique of the Obama administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Josh Ruebner brings clarity to the challenges and pitfalls of this thorny issue.” – Mufta

“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

Reflections on Anti-Semitism by Alain Badiou, Eric Hazan, and Ivan Segré
Since the inception of the “War on Terror”, Israel has become increasingly important to Western imperial strategy and ever more aggressive in its policies towards the Palestinians.  A key ideological weapon in this development is the cynical and unjustified accusation of ‘anti-Semitism’ to silence protest and dissent.


For historical reasons, this tactic has been deployed most forcefully in France, and in the first of the two essays in this book French writers Alain Badiou and Eric Hazan demolish the ‘anti-Semitism is everywhere’ claim used to bludgeon critics of the Israeli state and those who stand in solidarity with the <em>banlieue</em> youth.

“The calm and smiling power [of Segré’s work] lies in the logical rigor with which he reads texts.” – Daniel Bensaïd

The Idea of Israel is a powerful and urgent intervention in the war of ideas concerning the past, and the future, of the Palestinian–Israeli conflict.

“An essential read for anyone trying to understand the politics and history of the Middle East.” – Frontline

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.

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. He argues that it is not Holocaust deniers who pose the greatest threat to the memory of the atrocities, but the self-proclaimed guardians of Holocaust memory.

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

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.

“Ali remains an outlier and intellectual bomb-thrower; an urbane, Oxford-educated polemicist.” – The Observer


If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew
by Mike Marqusee
A passionate memoir of what it means to be Jewish in the twenty-first century. Marqusee documents his upbringing as a Jewish-American in 1950s suburbia, his anti-war activism and life as a Jew among Muslims in Pakistan, Morocco and Britain. Amongst his memories, Marqusee argues for a multi-dimensional understanding of Jewish history and identity, refuting mythical claims of Israel and Zionism.

“A fascinating, if quirky exploration of the Zionism-versus-anti-Zionism debate, to which it adds fire.” – Jewish Chronicle

The Myths of Liberal Zionism
by Yitzhak Laor
Yitzhak Laor is dissident and poet and pioneer of the critical tradition in Jewish culture. A forceful argument using famous writers like Amos Oz and David Grossman dimanteling the mysticism of the peace camp as the European vision of "new Zionism" promoting the fierce Israeli desire to be accepted as part of the West and taking advantage of growing Islamophobia across Europe.

“…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 both one of the most acclaimed youth orchestras in the world and a rare note of hope in a war-torn region. IAn Orchestra Beyond Borders, Elena Cheah, a professional musician and assistant to Daniel Barenboim, explores the orchestra’s journey through the remarkable stories of the musicians that comprise it.

“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
A major new translation of remarkable, late poems by the great Palestinian poet. Here, his close friends John Berger and Rema Hammami present a beautiful new translation of two of Darwish’s later works, his long masterpiece “Mural,” a contemplation of his life and work written following life-threatening surgery, and his last poem, “The Dice Player,” which Darwish read in Ramallah a month before his death. Illustrated with original drawings by John Berger, Mural is a testimony to one of the most important and powerful poets of our age.

“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. An intimate, nuanced exploration of the subtler privations of psychological displacement and loss of identity.

“Keenly observed, fierce, honest and yet light of touch.”
– Economist

Waiting for the Barbarians: A Tribute to Edward W. Said edited by Basak Ertur and Muge Gursoy Sokmen.
Bringing together some of the figures most closely associated with Edward Said and his scholarship, Waiting for the Barbarians looks at Said the public intellectual and literary critic, and his political and intellectual legacy: the future through the lens of his work.

With contributions by Rashid Khalidi, Elias Khoury, Saree Makdisi and Gauri Viswanathan.

“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

Resolutely independent and unaligned to any political party, Naji al-Ali strove to speak to and for the ordinary Arab people; the pointed satire of his stark, symbolic cartoons brought him widespread renown. A Child in Palestine presents the work of one of the Arab world’s greatest cartoonists, revered throughout the region for his outspokenness, honesty and humanity.

“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
Reaching from biblical times to the present day, Esther Benbassa’s prize-winning exploration of Jewish identity is both epic and comprehensive. She shows how in the Jewish world, the representation and ritualization of suffering have shaped the history of both the people and the religion.

“...Invaluable for both its political deconstruction of victimhood and its recollection of the lesser-known, non-lachrymose history of the Jews.”
Jewish Quarterly 

Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History by Norman G. Finkelstein
In Beyond Chutzpah, Norman Finkelstein moves from an iconoclastic interrogation of the new anti-Semitism to a meticulously researched exposé of the corruption of scholarship on the IsraelPalestine conflict, especially in the work of Alan Dershowitz.

“A very solid, important and highly informative book. Norman Finkelstein provides extensive details and analysis, with considerable historical depth and expert research.”  – Noam Chomsky

Dreams of a Nation: On Palestinian Cinema
by Hamid Dabashi
A lively celebration of the genius and power of Palestinian cinema. In Dreams of a Nation, filmmakers, critics and scholars discuss the extraordinary social and artistic significance of Palestinian film. It is the only volume of its kind in any language.

“Dabashi has produced a valuable archive on Palestinian cinema, unlike any other.”  – Screen


Being Arab
by Samir Kassir
In Being Arab, Samir Kassir's last book, he calls on the peoples of the Middle East to reject both Western double standards and Islamism in order to take the future of the region into their own hands. With the Arab Spring, millions have now answered that call.

“This is an unusual book of such fluent and searing honesty that I almost wanted Samir Kassir to be kinder to himself. I salute his memory. ” – John Pilger

The Last Resistance by Jacqueline Rose
In The Last Resistance, Jacqueline Rose explores the power of writing to create and transform our political lives. In particular, she examines the role of literature in the Zionist imagination: here, literature is presented as a unique form of dissidence, with the power to expose the unconscious of nations, and often proposing radical alternatives to their dominant pathways and beliefs.

“A breathtakingly refined textual analysis sustains a passionate, ethical and political engagement in the ongoing Near East crisis. This alone makes her a model of what a public intellectual should be. ” – Slavoj Zizek

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.

“What Rachel Corrie's work in Gaza recognized was the gravity and the density of the Palestinian people as a national community, and not merely as a collection of deprived refugees. That is what she was in solidarity with. And we need to remember that that kind of of solidarity is no longer confined to a small number of intrepid souls here and there, but is recognized the world over. ” – Edward W. Said

The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine since 2003 by Tanya Reinhart
Based on analysis of information in the mainstream Israeli media, Reinhart's Roadmap to Nowhere argues that the current road map has brought no real progress and that, under cover of diplomatic successes, Israel is using the road map to strengthen its grip on the remaining occupied territories.

“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
Israeli architects, scholars, journalists, and photographers highlight the role of architecture in the Middle East conflict. The banning of the first edition of this book by its original publisher was proof, if any were needed, that architecture in Israel, indeed architecture anywhere, can no longer be considered a politically naive activity: the politics of Israeli architecture is the politics of any architecture.

The Politics of Israeli Architecture undertook 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
The only critical biography of Israel's controversial Prime Minister, otherwise known as 'the Bulldozer.'

“Insightful, informative, and, yes, judiciously balanced.” – Foreign Affairs

Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel
by Arno Mayer
Incorporating reflections on founding violence, sovereignty, resistance, terror, and religious politics, Plowshares into Swords is an absorbing, challenging narrative of Zionism and Israel in the context of world history.

"...a sweeping and often illuminating overview of the story of Zionism.” -New Statesman

The Returns of Zionism: Myths, Politics and Scolarship by Gabriel Piterberg
In this original and wide-ranging study, Gabriel Piterberg examines the ideology and literature behind the colonization of Palestine, from the late nineteenth century to the present. A major re-evaluation of Zionism.

“Very well-informed, and even fascinating.”  -New Statesman

Voice of Hezbollah: The Statements of Sayed Hassan Nasrallah edited by Nicholas Noe
Voice of Hezbollah brings to an English-speaking readership for the first time Nasrallah’s speeches and interviews: the intricate, deeply populist arguments and promises that he has made from the mid-1980s to the present day.

The New Infitada: Resisting Israel's Apartheid edited by Roane Carey

A group of experts, many of them directly involved in the conflict, trace the course of the uprising, its consequences for the Palestinian people and the Israeli state, and its likely impact on the future of peace in the Middle East.

Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography by Ariella Azoulay
The "Copernican Revolution" in studying photography brings to light how images can both reinforce and resist power regimes.

"Civil Imagination is nothing less than a proposal for a new form of politics now made ever more relevant throughout the Middle East."
– Eyal Weizman, author of Hollow Land and Least of All Possible Evils


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