The Israel-Palestine Conflict: A Guide to the Violence in Gaza

At least 30 Israeli airstrikes took place over Gaza on Sunday 21st August in the latest Israeli military attacks, the worst since the 2014 war.

Before the July 2014 offensive when 2,100 Palestinians—mostly civilians—were killed, 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, according to Al Jazeera.

Reports of the Israeli air raids on northern Gaza began at around 10pm local time (7pm GMT). Photo: Al Jazeera

In light of these recent airstrikes, Verso presents a reading list of books that contextualise the political motivations behind these assaults and, more importantly, how Israel have been able to carry out such atrocities without reprisal. Here, we present a list of books from Israeli, Palestinian, and anti-imperialist authors, to explain the conflict and consider what the future might hold. 

A Child in Palestine: The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali by Naji al-Ali 
For the first time in book form, 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. 

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.

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

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. 

The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza by Max Blumenthal
Best-selling author reports on Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in July 2014. Beginning July 8, 2014, Israel launched air strikes and a ground invasion of Gaza that lasted fifty-one days, leaving over 2,000 people dead, the vast majority of whom were civilians. During the assault, at least 10,000 homes were destroyed and, according to the United Nations, nearly 300,000 Palestinians were displaced. Here, for the first time, Blumenthal unearths and presents shocking evidence of atrocities he gathered in the rubble of Gaza.


An Orchestra Beyond Borders: Voices of the Western-Eastern Divan Orchestra by Elena Cheah
The untold story of the West-Eastern Divan, an orchestra reaching across the Israeli-Arab divide. Bringing together young musicians from Palestine, Israel and other countries of the Middle East, 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. 

Mural by Mahmoud Darwish
A major new translation of remarkable, late poems by the great Palestinian poet: Mahmoud Darwish was the Palestinian national poet. One of the greatest poets of the last half-century, his work evokes the loss of his homeland and is suffused with the pain of dispossession, exile and loss. 

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.

This paperback edition includes a new preface examining recent developments in the IsraelPalestine conflict and the misuse of anti-semitism, and a new chapter analysing the controversy surrounding Israel's construction of the West Bank wall.

Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict by Norman G. Finkelstein
A fully updated new edition, by the author of The Holocaust Industry. 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 reexamines dominant popular and scholarly images in the light of the current failures of the peace process.

The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering by Norman G. Finkelstein

Controversial indictment of those who exploit the tragedy of the Holocaust for their own gain. Recalling Holocaust fraudsters such as Jerzy Kosiński and Binjamin Wilkomirski, as well as the demagogic constructions of writers like Daniel Goldhagen, Finkelstein contends that the main danger posed to the memory of Nazism’s victims comes from some of the very people who profess most passionately to defend it.

Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation Edited by Mateo Hoke and Cate Malek
What is life really like in Gaza and the West Bank? Part of the highly acclaimed Voices of Witness oral history series, Palestine Speaks is essential reading for anyone who wants to better understand the Israel–Palestine crisis.

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.

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. 

Return: A Palestinian Memoir by Ghada Karmi
Having grown up in Britain following her family's exile from Palestine, doctor, author and academic Ghada Karmi leaves her adoptive home in a quest to return to her homeland. She starts work with the Palestinian Authority and gets a firsthand understanding of its bizarre bureaucracy under Israel’s occupation.

In her quest, she takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the heart of one of the world’s most intractable conflict zones and one of the major issues of our time. Visiting places she has not seen since childhood, her unique insights reveal a militarised and barely recognisable homeland, and her home in Jerusalem, like much of the West Bank, occupied by strangers. Her encounters with politicians, fellow Palestinians, and Israeli soldiers cause her to question what role exiles like her have in the future of their country and whether return is truly possible.

Being Arab by Samir Kassir 
A passionate meditation on contemporary Arab identity.
Before his assassination in 2005, Samir Kassir was one of Lebanon’s foremost public intellectuals. In Being Arab, a thought-provoking assessment of Arab identity, he calls on the people of the Middle East to reject both Western double standards and Islamism in order to take the future into their own hands. Passionately written and brilliantly argued, this rallying cry for change has now been heard by millions.

Politicide: Ariel Sharon's War by Baruch Kimmerling
Baruch Kimmerling’s new book describes Sharon’s quest to reshape the whole geopolitical landscape of the Middle East. He describes how Sharon is committed to politicide, the destruction of the Palestinian political identity, and how he has won the support of powerful elements within Israeli society and the present American administration in order to achieve this.

One of Israel's most independent writers demystifies the "peace camp" liberals.

The Punishment of Gaza by Gideon Levy
Israel’s 2009 invasion of Gaza was an act of aggression that killed over a thousand Palestinians and devastated the infrastructure of an already impoverished enclave. The Punishment of Gaza shows how the ground was prepared for the assault and documents its continuing effects.

The Case for Sanctions Against Israel edited by Audrea Lim
Leading international voices argue for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. In July 2011, Israel passed legislation outlawing the public support of boycott activities against the state, corporations, and settlements, adding a crackdown on free speech to its continuing blockade of Gaza and the expansion of illegal settlements. Nonetheless, the campaign for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) continues to grow in strength within Israel and Palestine, as well as in Europe and the US.
With contributions by Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, Merav Amir, Hind Awwad, Mustafa Barghouthi, Omar Barghouti, Dalit Baum, Joel Beinin, John Berger,Angela Davis, Nada Elia, Marc H. Ellis, Noura Erakat, Neve Gordon, Ran Greenstein, Ronald Kasrils, Jamal Khader, Naomi Klein, Paul Laverty, Mark LeVine, David Lloyd, Ken Loach, Haneen Maikey, Rebecca O'Brien, Ilan Pappe, Jonathan Pollak, Laura Pulido, Lisa Taraki, Rebecca Vilkomerson, Michael Warschawski, and Slavoj Žižek 

If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew by Mike Marqusee
A deeply felt memoir exploring Jewish identity and history.
If I Am Not For Myself is a passionate, thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be Jewish in the twenty-first century. It traces the author’s upbringing in 1960s Jewish-American suburbia, his anti-war and pro-Palestinian activism on the British left, and life as a Jew among Muslims in Pakistan, Morocco, and Britain. 

Plowshares into Swords: From Zionism to Israel by Arno Mayer
An eminent historian returns with an authoritative history of Zionism and Israel. This rich, authoritative history chronicles the Zionist Israeli quest from its origins in pre-Great War Europe. Plowshares Into Swords traces the development of political Zionism’s primal resolve to implant a state for Jews in a Middle East of ever greater strategic importance.

The Revenge of History by Seumas Milne
From 9/11 to the Arab Spring and beyond – encompassing the economic crisis, the rise of China, and conflicts in the Middle East – The Revenge of History turns the orthodoxies of the past generation on their head.

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. Newly translated from the Arabic, and with an introduction by one of the foremost writers on Lebanon, Voice of Hezbollah is critical to the understanding of the man and the movement.

The Idea of Israel: A History of Power and Knowledge by Ilan Pappe
A major new history of Zionism and Israel, by the renowned author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine. Since its foundation in 1948, Israel has drawn on Zionism, the movement behind its creation, to provide a sense of self and political direction. In this groundbreaking new work, Ilan Pappe looks at the continued role of Zionist ideology.

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.

Letters to Palestine: Writers Respond to War and Occupation edited by Vijay Prashad
Impassioned and intimate writing to Palestinians from celebrated American writers: this book traces this swelling American recognition of Palestinian suffering, struggle, and hope, in writing that is personal, lyrical, anguished, and inspiring. Some of the leading writers of our time, such as Junot Díaz and Teju Cole, poets and essayists, novelists and scholars, Palestinian American activists like Huwaida Arraf, Noura Erakat, and Remi Kanazi, give voice to feelings of empathy and solidarity—as well as anger at US support for Israeli policy—in intimate letters, beautiful essays, and furious poems. This is a landmark work of controversial, committed literary writing.

The Road Map to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine since 2003 by Tanya Reinhart
A searing expose of the "peace process" by a prominent Israeli thinker.

Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace by Josh Ruebner
Hard-hitting critique of Obama administration’s failure to broker Israeli–Palestinian peace, by a leading DC-based advocate. Writer and political analyst Josh Ruebner charts Obama’s journey from optimism to frustration in the first hard-hitting investigation into why the president failed to make any progress on this critical issue, and how his unwillingness to challenge the Israel lobby has shattered hopes for peace.

The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand
Bestselling new analysis of Jewish history by a leading Israeli historian.A historical tour de force, The Invention of the Jewish People offers a groundbreaking account of Jewish and Israeli history. In this iconoclastic work, which spent nineteen weeks on the Israeli bestseller list and won the coveted Aujourd'hui Award in France, Sand provides the intellectual foundations for a new vision of Israel’s future.

The Invention of the Land of Israel by Shlomo Sand
Groundbreaking new work from the controversial author ofThe Invention of the Jewish People. Following his acclaimed and controversial Invention of the Jewish People, Shlomo Sand examines the mysterious sacred land that has become the site of the longest-running national struggle of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. 

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.

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.

Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations by Avi Shlaim
Acclaimed reflections on the causes and consequences of the Israel-Palestine conflict. With characteristic rigor and readability, Avi Shlaim reflects on a range of key issues, transformations and personalities in the Israel–Palestine conflict. From the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the 2008 invasion of Gaza, Israel and Palestineplaces current events in their proper historical perspective, and assesses the impact of key political and intellectual figures, including Yasir Arafat and Ariel Sharon, Edward Said and Benny Morris.

The Least of All Possible Evils by Eyal Weizman
Groundbreaking exploration of the philosophy underpinning Western humanitarian intervention. The principle of the “lesser evil”—the acceptability of pursuing one exceptional course of action in order to prevent a greater injustice—has long been a cornerstone of Western ethical philosophy. From its roots in classical ethics and Christian theology, to Hannah Arendt’s exploration of the work of the Jewish Councils during the Nazi regime, Weizman explores its development in three key transformations of the problem.

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.
 

Further reading on the Verso blog:

"Shlomo Sand: Israel Isn’t Fascist, but It Still Needs the World to Save It From Itself."

"Eric Hazan: Boycotting Israel isn't anti-semitic."

"When Israel Bombed Gaza…..A Year Ago." In 2015 Vijay Prashad and Noura Erakat took over the Verso blog to share thoughts on the bombing of Gaza and the Isreali occupation.

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