Most Recently Published Books
RECENT BOOKS RELATING TO ISRAEL/PALESTINE
It is planned to try to update this section every 8 to 10 weeks. Please contact us if you have any comments or ideas for new books to be included in a future posting.
When the page is updated, all books previously posted on this page are transferred to a set of pages organised under the following headings:
RECENT BOOKS RELATING TO ISRAEL/PALESTINE
Posted 15 Febraury 2015
THE ARTS – FICTION/POETRY/PHOTOGRAPHY
Cynthia Franklin et al. (Eds.): Life in Occupied Palestine: A special issue of Biography (University of Hawaii Press, 2014, $15 or downloadable from Project Muse – details here)
Publisher’s description: not available
Publisher’s description: For more than six decades, Israel and Palestine have been the center of one of the world’s most widely reported yet least understood human rights crises. In Palestine Speaks men and women from the West Bank and Gaza describe in their own words how their lives have been shaped by the conflict. This includes eyewitness accounts of the most recent attacks on Gaza in 2014. The collection includes Ebtihaj, whose son, born during the first intifada, was killed by Israeli soldiers during a night raid almost twenty years later. Nader, a professional marathon runner from the Gaza Strip who is determined to pursue his dream of competing in international races despite countless challenges, including severe travel restrictions and a lack of resources to help him train.
Reviews: New York Review of Books
Publisher’s description: Dervla Murphy describes with passionate honesty the experience of her most recent journeys into Israel and Palestine. In cramped Haifa high-rises, in homes in the settlements and in a refugee camp on the West Bank, she talks with whomever she meets, trying to understand them and their attitudes with her customary curiosity, her acute ear and mind, her empathy, her openness to the experience and her moral seriousness. Behind the book lies a desire to communicate the reality of life on the ground, and to puzzle out for herself what might be done to alleviate the suffering of all who wish to share this land and to make peace in the region a possibility.Meeting the wise, the foolish and the frankly deluded, she knits together a patchwork picture that constitutes both sides of the divide – Hamas and Fatah, rural and urban, refugee,Bedouin nomad, indigenous inhabitant, Black Hebrew, Kabbalist, secular and Orthodox. She finds compassion and empathy in both communities, but is also appalled by instances of its lack on both sides. Overall her sympathies are with the Palestinians, remorselessly dispossessed of, and cut off from, their lands and frustrated and humiliated on a daily basis. Clinging to hope, she comes to believe that despite its difficulties the only viable future lies in a single democratic state of Israel/Palestine, based on one person, one vote – the One-State Solution.
Publisher’s description: In Conscientious Objectors in Israel, Erica Weiss examines the lives of Israelis who have refused to perform military service for reasons of conscience. Based on long-term fieldwork, this ethnography chronicles the personal experiences of two generations of Jewish conscientious objectors as they grapple with the pressure of justifying their actions to the Israeli state and society—often suffering severe social and legal consequences, including imprisonment. While most scholarly work has considered the causes of animosity and violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Conscientious Objectors in Israel examines how and under what circumstances one is able to refuse to commit acts of violence in the midst of that conflict. By exploring the social life of conscientious dissent, Weiss exposes the tension within liberal citizenship between the protection of individual rights and obligations of self-sacrifice. While conscience is a strong cultural claim, military refusal directly challenges Israeli state sovereignty. Weiss explores conscience as a political entity that sits precariously outside the jurisdictional bounds of state power.
THE ARTS – FICTION/POETRY/PHOTOGRAPHY
Waleed Abu-Ghazeleh & Afzal Huda: Love wins: Palestinian perseverance behind walls (Olive Branch Press, 2014, paperback, £11.75)
Publisher’s description: During the summer of 2011, armed with a camera and a map, award-winning Canadian filmmaker and photographer Afzal Huda set out to chronicle the Separation Wall in Palestine. His aim was to magnify the ugly face of the Wall and depict the contradictions and hardships endured by human beings living under a military occupation. He was intent on showing the world what it was like to live in an open air prison and how Palestinians have developed ways to cope with the Wall’s existence. Afzal spent three weeks doing just that: visiting all the Palestinian areas along the Wall and interviewing people young and old from all walks of life. But instead of the overwhelming reality of misery and suffering he had witnessed with his own eyes, his camera caught images of a contrasting nature: photos of people and faces of compassion, perseverance and hope rarely seen in mainstream media’s usual portrayal of Palestinians.
Reviews: Palestine Book Awards
Sharon Rotbard: White city, black city: Architecture and war in Tel Aviv and Jaffa (Pluto Press, 2015, paperback, £14.99)
Publisher’s description: White City, Black City is a story of two intertwining narratives which reveals the hidden history of the region where now stands modern-day Tel Aviv. The new architectural landscape of this city, its Bauhaus-influenced modernist architecture glittering white, represents one side of the story, that of the White City, which rose from the sparse sand dunes to house a new Jewish society. But there is a second story – that of the Black City of Jaffa, the traces of which lie on the outskirts of the region, and which are rarely mentioned. In this book, Sharon Rotbard blows apart this palimpsest in a clear, fluent and challenging style, which promises to force the reality of what so many have praised as ‘progress’ into the mainstream discourse. White City, Black City is, all at once, an angry uncovering of a vanished history, a book mourning the loss of an architectural heritage, a careful study in urban design and a beautifully written narrative history.
Publisher’s description: In the past five years Israel has mounted three major assaults on the 1.8 million Palestinians trapped behind its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Taken together, Operation Cast Lead (2008-9), Operation Pillar of Defense (2012), and Operation Protective Edge (2014), have resulted in the deaths of some 3,700 Palestinians. Meanwhile, a total of 90 Israelis were killed in the invasions. On the face of it, this succession of vastly disproportionate attacks has often seemed frenzied and pathological. Senior Israeli politicians have not discouraged such perceptions, indeed they have actively encouraged them. After the 2008-9 assault Israel’s then-foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, boasted, “Israel demonstrated real hooliganism during the course of the recent operation, which I demanded.” However, as Norman G. Finkelstein sets out in this concise, paradigm-shifting new book, a closer examination of Israel’s motives reveals a state whose repeated recourse to savage war is far from irrational. Rather, Israel’s attacks have been designed to sabotage the possibility of a compromise peace with the Palestinians, even on terms that are favorable to it. Looking also at machinations around the 2009 UN sponsored Goldstone report and Turkey’s forlorn attempt to seek redress in the UN for the killing of its citizens in the 2010 attack on the Gaza freedom flotilla, Finkelstein documents how Israel has repeatedly eluded accountability for what are now widely recognized as war crimes.
Publisher’s description: A gripping day-by-day account of the 1978 Camp David conference (…). With his hallmark insight into the forces at play in the Middle East and his acclaimed journalistic skill, Lawrence Wright takes us through each of the thirteen days of the Camp David conference, illuminating the issues that have made the problems of the region so intractable, as well as exploring the scriptural narratives that continue to frame the conflict. In addition to his in-depth accounts of the lives of the three leaders, Wright draws vivid portraits of other fiery personalities who were present at Camp David (…) as they work furiously behind the scenes. Wright also explores the significant role played by Rosalynn Carter. What emerges is a riveting view of the making of this unexpected and so far unprecedented peace. Wright exhibits the full extent of Carter’s persistence in pushing an agreement forward, the extraordinary way in which the participants at the conference—many of them lifelong enemies—attained it, and the profound difficulties inherent in the process and its outcome, not the least of which has been the still unsettled struggle between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Khaled Diab: Intimate enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (Guardian Books, 2014, paperback £1.99)
Publisher’s description: The Holy Land is often presented as a story of two sides locked in a cycle of recurrent conflict: Jew vs Arab; Israeli vs Palestinian. For the outsider looking in, it is a question of military might and nationhood. Any view of the peoples themselves, of the lives being lived in Jerusalem, Gaza, Tel Aviv or the West Bank, is clouded by the divisive politics of the region. In ‘Intimate Enemies’, Khaled Diab explores the human lives at stake in the conflict. From Palestinians evading checkpoints to attend parties, to the different approaches Israelis take in defining personal Jewish identities, to the experiences of women from across the region, ‘Intimate Enemies’ looks at what makes people tick. It also becomes clear in this closer understanding of the people how misleading a simple notion of two opposing sides really is. Amongst both Israelis and Palestinians, Diab finds internal cultural, ideological and historical fractures, as well as unlikely patches of common ground between the political enemies.
Reviews: none yet available
Publisher’s description: The essays in this book examine media coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014. Looking through a wide lens, they cover mainstream and social media, and draw attention not only to the lack of objectivity in coverage of the war but also the way that traditional media sources are being overtaken by new media as audiences search for the truth behind the headlines.
Reviews: none yet available
Cary Nelson & Gabriel Noah Brahm (Eds.); The case against academic boycotts of Israel (Wayne State University Press, 2014, paperback, £22.32)
Publisher’s description: How should we understand the international debate about the future of Israel and the Palestinians? Can justice be achieved in the Middle East? Until now, there was no single place for people to go to find detailed scholarly essays analyzing proposals to boycott Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement of which they are a part. This book for the first time provides the historical background necessary for informed evaluation of one of the most controversial issues of our day— the struggle between two peoples living side-by-side but with conflicting views of history and conflicting national ambitions. This book encourages empathy for all parties, but it also takes a cold look at what solutions are realistic and possible. In doing so, it tackles issues, like the role of anti-Semitism in calls for the abolition of the Jewish state, that many have found impossible to confront until now.
Reviews: Jewish Pluralist
Raja Shehadeh: Language of war, language of peace: Palestine, Israel & the search for justice (Profile Books, 2015, paperback, £8.99)
Publisher’s description: A passionate and elegant reflection on the language of the Middle East conflict expanded from Raja Shehadeh’s Edward Said memorial lectures. Award-winning author Raja Shehadeh explores the politics of language and the language of politics in the Israeli Palestine conflict, reflecting on the walls that they create – legal and cultural – that confine today’s Palestinians just like the physical borders, checkpoints and the so called ‘Separation Barrier’. The peace process has been ground to a halt by twists of language and linguistic chicanery that has degraded the word ‘peace’ itself. No one even knows what the word might mean now for the Middle East. So to give one example of many, Israel argued that the omission of the word ‘the’ in one of the UN Security Council’s resolutions meant that it was not mandated to withdraw from all of the territories occupied in 1967.
Marcelo Svirsky: After Israel: Towards cultural transformation (Zed Books, 2014, Paperback, £19.99)
Publisher’s description: In this unique new contribution, Marcelo Svirsky asserts that no political solution currently on offer can provide the cultural marrow necessary to effect a transformation of modes of being and ways of life in the State of Israel. Controversially, Svirsky argues that the Zionist political project cannot be fixed – it is one that negatively affects the lives of its beneficiaries as well as of its victims. Instead, the book aims to generate a reflective attitude, allowing Jewish-Israelis to explore how they may divest themselves of Zionist identities by engaging with dissident rationalities, practices and institutions.
Reviews: none yet available