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.
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.
In this essay, first published at Les mots sont importants, Christine Delphy and Sylvie Tissot react to the storm created by Nicolas Sarkozy’s comments on French national identity in the build-up to the French presidential election. Translated by David Broder
Maurice Barrès and the far right Ligue des Patriotes, 1912. via Wikimedia Commons.
"Once you become French, your ancestors are the Gauls," declared Nicolas Sarkozy, bringing a deluge of protests. As people everywhere told him, our ancestors are far more numerous and diverse than "the Gauls" alone. Yet such protests are insufficient. For what we need to attack are the very terms of this debate.
The Israeli historian Shlomo Sand made his name with his critical re-reading of the history of Israel, nationalism and Jewish identity. Trained in the French historical school, he is also a keen observer of intellectual life in Paris. His most recent book, devoted to the decline of a milieu which he once so admired, concludes with a sombre diagnosis. Translated by David Broder.
"When an intellectual makes eulogies to the police, the army, and the forces of the state, then he is out-of-step with the history of France since Voltaire. Houellebecq accuses the government of not being sufficiently militaristic. How can we imagine an intellectual, a writer, an artist taking a stance against the authorities saying they aren’t ‘muscular’ enough? It is astonishing to see how the intellectuals dominating the debate today are against immigrants, against foreigners, against the weakest [...] This neoconservatism is a sign of the times."