Nakba Day, an annual day of commemoration of the displacement that preceded and followed the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948, falls on the 15th of May each year. In an attempt to understand the catastrophe, we bring you a reading list of key books on the Israel-Palestine conflict, from Ghada Karmi, Mahmoud Darwish, Naji al-Ali, Ilan Pappe, Edward Said, Shlomo Sand, and more.
Two recently released books explore the brutal history of the foundation of the state of Israel and historiography's connection to nationalism in Israel and beyond.
Demolition of "The Jungle" migrant camp in Calais, October 2016.
In late October 2016, I packed my bags for a short trip abroad, leaving a region raw with struggle over the racial and colonial violence of infrastructure. In places like Standing Rock, Flint, Muskrat Falls, Toronto, and Baltimore, conflicts raged over the targeted violence of energy, water, border, and policing systems. Movements for Black lives, for migrants’ rights, for indigenous sovereignty, and for economic and environmental justice were increasingly mapping violent infrastructure systems with their direct actions and analyses. The water protectors’ camps at Standing Rock were large and growing, animated by spirit, ceremony, and unprecedented gathering as they halted the Dakota Access Pipeline. The largest prison strike in history, 45 years after the Attica uprising, was calling out the inhumanity of American carceral infrastructure. Black organizers were denouncing infrastructure crises like the one poisoning Flint, Michigan, suggesting these would be the defining struggles for Black communities to come. More than 50 Indigenous Nations from across Turtle Island had just signed the Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, with the goal of protecting Indigenous lands and waters from all proposed pipeline, tanker, and rail projects. In my hometown of Toronto, Black Lives Matter members were making claims for the protection of “Black Infrastructure.” Blockades of damns, ports, highways, and rail infrastructure had become frequent news virtually everywhere, except for in the reporting of the mainstream media.
While the Pompidou Centre is paying homage to Le Corbusier, a group of historians and writers reminds us that his works were coloured throughout by his totalitarian and fascist views. First published in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.
From Corbusier's Le Modulor 1.
At the same moment that the Pompidou Centre inaugurated its exhibition on Le Corbusier in April 2015, there appeared three books looking back to the architect’s fascist propensities. Startled as reality suddenly broke through, the organisers decided to refer the question to a conference that would be held in late 2016, as did indeed take place on 23-24 November of this year. However, certain authors very critical of Le Corbusier were not allowed to participate. And anyway, why organise a conference when we need only read the numerous writings of the author of La Ville radieuse to be struck by the constancy of his totalitarian intentions? The conference amounted to nothing more than a sham.
On Friday 23rd December the UN passed a resolution demanding a stop to Israeli settlement in the occupied territories as, in a shock move, the US refused to veto the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exploded, calling it a 'declaration of war' (having recently been granted a $38 billion military aid package by the US), and Secretary of State John Kerry criticised Israel's approach to the peace process. But with Trump tweeting that Israel should 'stay strong' until his inauguration, progress still seems unlikely.
Verso presents a list of books from Israeli, Palestinian, and anti-imperialist authors, to explain the conflict and provide some perspectives on the future.
Brett Story's film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes depicts the variety of ways in which incarceration and criminal punishment shape the American landscape, both urban and rural — without ever showing a penetentiary. It begins its New York theatrical run on November 4th at Anthology Film Archives.
Below, Story recommends five books on carceral geography: an approach to analyzing incarceration and policing in spatial terms, drawing from the discipline of human geography.
From The Prison in 12 Landscapes
1. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore (University of California Press, 2007)
Regardless of your interest in space or place, if you read only one book to help make sense of mass incarceration, it should be this one.