Older books – Memoirs/Biography/Oral testimonies
This page contains details of books previously listed on the Most Recently Published Books page. Books are listed in alphabetical order of the author. All the books were published in 2014 or later; earlier books previously listed on this page can be found here.
Nahla Abdo: From captive revolution to grand Gaza prison (2014)
Jasmine Donahaye: Losing Israel (2015)
Ben Ehrenreich: The way to the spring: Life and death in Palestine (2016)
Cynthia Franklin et al. (Eds.): Life in Occupied Palestine: A special issue of Biography (2014)
Norma Hashim (Ed.): Dreaming of freedom: Palestinian child prisoners speak (2016)
Ghada Karmi: Return: A Palestinian memoir (2015)
Sayed Kashua: Native: Dispatches from a Palestinian life (2016)
Cate Malek & Mateo Hoke (Eds.): Palestine speaks: Narratives of lives under Occupation (2015)
Mohammed Omer: Shell-shocked: On the ground under Israel’s Gaza assault (2015)
Lipika Pelham: The unlikely settler (2014)
Vijay Prashad (ed.): Letters to Palestine: Writers respond to war and occupation (2015)
Lilian Rosengarten: Survival and conscience: From the shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish boat to Gaza (2015)
Atef Abu Saif: Drone eats with me (2015)
Shlomo Sand: How I stopped being a Jew (2014)
Lotte Buch Segal: No place for grief: Martyrs, prisoners and mourning in contemporary Palestine (2016)
Salman Abu Sitta: Mapping my return: A Palestinian memoir (2016)
Tom Sperlinger: Romeo and Juliet in Palestine: Teaching under Occupation (2015)
Yasir Suleiman (Ed.): Being Palestinian: Personal reflections of Palestinian identity in the Diaspora (2016)
S.Tamari & I.Nassar (Eds.): The storyteller of Jerusalem: The life & times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-48 (2014)
Sandy Tolan: Children of the stone: The power of music in a hard land (2015)
Erica Weiss: Conscientious objectors in Israel: Citizenship, sacrifice, trials of fealty (2014)
Publisher’s description: Women throughout the world have always played their part in struggles against colonialism, imperialism and other forms of oppression. However, there are few books on Arab political prisoners, fewer still on the Palestinians who have been detained in their thousands for their political activism and resistance. Nahla Abdo’s Captive Revolution seeks to break the silence on Palestinian women political detainees, providing a vital contribution to research on women, revolutions, national liberation and anti-colonial resistance. Based on stories of the women themselves, as well as her own experiences as a former political prisoner, Abdo draws on a wealth of oral history and primary research in order to analyse their anti-colonial struggle, their agency and the appalling treatment. Making crucial comparisons with the experiences of female political detainees in other conflicts, and emphasising the vital role Palestinian political culture and memorialisation of the ‘Nakba’ have had on their resilience and resistance, Captive Revolution is a rich and revealing addition to our knowledge of this little-studied phenomenon.
Publisher’s description: In 2007, in a chance conversation with her mother, a kibbutznik, Jasmine Donahaye stumbled upon the collusion of her family in the displacement of Palestinians in 1948. She set out to learn the story of what happened, and discovered an earlier and rarely discussed piece of history during the British Mandate in Palestine. Her discoveries challenged everything she thought she knew about the country and her family, and transformed her understanding of the place, and of herself. (…) Losing Israel is a moving and honest account which spans travel writing, nature writing and memoir. Losing Israel works on many levels – family relationships, the nature of patriotism and nationalism, cultural dislocation, the story of the Jewish diaspora and Israel, how history changes from one generation to the next, the histories of the dispossessed and the oppressed.
Publisher’s description: Over the past three years, American writer Ben Ehrenreich has been traveling to and living in the West Bank, staying with Palestinian families in its largest cities and its smallest villages. (…) We are familiar with brave journalists who travel to bleak or war-torn places on a mission to listen and understand, to gather the stories of people suffering from extremes of oppression and want (…). Palestine is, by any measure, whatever one’s politics, one such place. Ruled by the Israeli military, set upon and harassed constantly by Israeli settlers who admit unapologetically to wanting to drive them from the land, forced to negotiate an ever more elaborate and more suffocating series of fences, checkpoints, and barriers that have sundered home from field, home from home, this is a population whose living conditions are unique, and indeed hard to imagine. In a great act of bravery, empathy and understanding, Ehrenreich, by placing us in the footsteps of ordinary Palestinians and telling their story with surpassing literary power and grace, makes it impossible for us to turn away.
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: Dreaming of Freedom encourage its participants to speak naturally in their own voices, rather than seeking to depoliticize them or impose false notion of “innocence” on those who has participated in a just anti-colonial struggles. By placing Israel’s military detention of Palestinian Children in its full context – not only the Israeli occupation itself, but also Palestinian resistance to it – Dreaming of Freedom offers valuable insight into the life of children whose forays against heavily armed soldiers, walls and tanks have inspired millions.
Publisher’s description: 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.
Publisher’s description: An Israeli-Palestinian who lived in Jerusalem for most of his life, Kashua started writing in Hebrew with the hope of creating one story that both Palestinians and Israelis could relate to, rather than two that cannot coexist together. He devoted his novels and his satirical weekly column published in Haaretz to telling the Palestinian story and exploring the contradictions of modern Israel, while also capturing the nuances of everyday family life in all its tenderness and chaos. (…) With an intimate tone fueled by deep-seated apprehension and a razor-sharp ironic wit, Kashua has been documenting his own life as well as that of society at large: he writes about his children’s upbringing and encounters with racism, about fatherhood and married life, the Jewish-Arab conflict, his professional ambitions, and—more than anything—his love of literature. From these circumstances, Kashua brings forth a series of brilliant, caustic, wry, and fearless reflections on social and cultural dynamics as experienced by someone who straddles two societies.
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.
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: What was it like to live under Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip last summer? In these pages, journalist Mohammed Omer, a resident of Gaza who experienced the terror with his wife and three-month-old son, provides a first-hand account of life on-the-ground. The images he records in this extraordinary chronicle are a literary equivalent of Goya’s “Disasters of War”: children’s corpses stuffed into vegetable refrigerators, pointlessly because the electricity is off; a family rushing out of their home after a phone call from the Israeli military informs them that the building will be obliterated by an F-16 missile in three minutes; fishing boats ablaze in the harbour. Throughout this carnage, Omer maintains the cool detachment of the professional journalist, determined to create a precise record of what is occurring in front of him. But between his lines the outrage boils, and we are left to wonder how a society such as Israel, widely-praised in the West as democratic and civilized, can visit such monstrosities on a trapped and helpless population.
Publisher’s description: The Unlikely Settler is none other than a young Bengali journalist who moves to Jerusalem with her English-Jewish husband and two children. He speaks Arabic and is an arch believer in the peace process; she leaves her career behind to follow his dream. Jerusalem propels Pelham into a world where freedom from tribal allegiance is a challenging prospect. From the school you choose for your children to the wine you buy, you take sides at every turn. Pelham’s complicated relationship with her husband, Leo, is as emotive as the city she lives in, as full of energy, pain, and contradictions. As she tries to navigate the complexities and absurdities of daily life in Jerusalem, often with hilarious results, Pelham achieves deep insights into the respective woes and guilt of her Palestinian and Israeli friends. Her intelligent analysis suggests a very different approach to a potential resolution of the conflict.
Publisher’s description: This book traces the 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.
Publisher’s description: In 1936, Lillian Rosengarten and her family fled Nazi Germany for New York. But even there, the legacy of the Nazis’ brutality continued to cast a shadow over her family for many decades. In Survival and Conscience Rosengarten describes how she faced those challenges within her own life while gaining empathy for the struggles of others, realizing that all forms of extreme nationalism and hatred must be vigorously resisted. Like many other refugees from Nazism and survivors of the Holocaust, Rosengarten became a strong advocate of Palestinian rights. In 2010, she joined the “Jewish Boat to Gaza,” designed to break Israel’s punishing blockade of the Strip. Though the Israeli Navy obstructed their humanitarian mission, nothing can stop Lillian Rosengarten’s inspiring story of love, self-discovery, and activism
Reviews: none yet available
Publisher’s description: On 7 July 2014, in an apparent response to the murder of three teenagers, Israel launched a major offensive against the Gaza Strip, lasting 51 days, killing 2145 Palestinians (578 of them children), injuring over 11,000, and demolishing 17,200 homes. The global outcry at this collective punishment of an already persecuted people was followed by widespread astonishment at the pro-Israeli bias of Western media coverage. The usual news machine rolled up, and the same distressing images and entrenched political rhetoric were broadcast, yet almost nothing was reported of the on-going lives of ordinary Gazans – the real victims of the war.One of the few voices to make it out was that of Atef Abu Saif, a writer and teacher from Jabalia Refugee Camp, whose eye-witness accounts (…) offered a rare window into the conflict for Western readers. Here, Atef’s complete diaries of the war allow us to witness the full extent of last summer’s atrocities from the most humble of perspectives: that of a young father, fearing for his family’s safety, trying to stay sane in an insanely one-sided war.
Publisher’s description: Shlomo Sand was born in 1946, in a displaced person’s camp in Austria, to Jewish parents; the family later migrated to Palestine. As a young man, Sand came to question his Jewish identity, even that of a “secular Jew.” With this meditative and thoughtful mixture of essay and personal recollection, he articulates the problems at the center of modern Jewish identity. How I Stopped Being a Jew discusses the negative effects of the Israeli exploitation of the “chosen people” myth and its “holocaust industry.” Sand criticizes the fact that, in the current context, what “Jewish” means is, above all, not being Arab and reflects on the possibility of a secular, non-exclusive Israeli identity, beyond the legends of Zionism.
Publisher’s description: Westerners ‘know’ Palestine through images of war and people in immediate distress. Yet this focus has as its consequence that other, less spectacular stories of daily distress are rarely told. Those seldom noticed are the women behind the men who engage in armed resistance against the military occupation: wives of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention and the widows of the martyrs. In Palestine, being related to a detainee serving a sentence for participation in the resistance activities against Israel is a source of pride. Consequently, the wives of detainees are expected to sustain these relationships through steadfast endurance, no matter the effects upon the marriage or family. (…) Lotte Buch Segal offers a glimpse of the lives, and the contradictory emotions, of the families of both detainees and martyrs through an in-depth ethnographic investigation. No Place for Grief asks us to think about what it means to grieve when that which is grieved does not lend itself to a language of loss and mourning.
Reviews: none yet available
Publisher’s description: Salman Abu Sitta, who has single-handedly made available crucial mapping work on Palestine, was just ten years old when he left his home near Beersheba in 1948, but as for many Palestinians of his generation, the profound effects of that traumatic loss would form the defining feature of his life from that moment on. In this rich and moving memoir, Abu Sitta draws on oral histories and personal recollections to vividly evoke the vanished world of his family and home from the late nineteenth century to the eve of the British withdrawal from Palestine and subsequent war. Alongside accounts of an idyllic childhood spent on his family’s farm estate Abu Sitta gives a personal and very human face to the dramatic events of 1930s and 1940s Palestine, conveying the acute sense of foreboding felt by Palestinians as Zionist ambitions and militarization expanded under the mandate. (…) Abu Sitta’s narrative is imbued throughout with a burning sense of justice, a determination to recover and document what rightfully belongs to his people, an aim given poignant expression in his painstaking cartographic and archival work on Palestine, for which he is justifiably acclaimed.
Publisher’s description: Is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ really a love story, or is it a play about young people living in dangerous circumstances? How might life under occupation produce a new reading of ‘Julius Caesar’? What choices must a group of Palestinian students make, when putting on a play which has Jewish protagonists? And why might a young Palestinian student refuse to read? For five months at the start of 2013, Tom Sperlinger taught English literature at the Abu Dis campus of Al-Quds University in the Occupied West Bank. In this account of the semester, Sperlinger explores his students’ encounters with works from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ to Kafka and Malcolm X. By placing stories from the classroom alongside anecdotes about life in the West Bank, Sperlinger shows how his own ideas about literature and teaching changed during his time in Palestine, and asks what such encounters might reveal about the nature of pedagogy and the role of a university under occupation.
During the early to mid-twentieth century, the Zionist Organization secured a series of political victories on the international stage, leading to the foundation of a Jewish state and to its ability to expand its territorial control within Palestine. The International Diplomacy of Israel’s Founders provides a revisionist account of the founding of Israel by exposing the misrepresentations and false assurances of Zionist diplomats during this formative period of Israeli history. By comparing diplomatic statements at the United Nations and elsewhere against the historical record, it sheds new light on the legacies of such leaders as Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, Abba Eban, and Shabtai Rosenne. Including coverage of little-discussed moments in early Israeli history, this book offers an important new perspective for anyone interested in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.How does it feel when you cannot find Palestine under ‘P’ in the encyclopedia your father brings home? Why cultivate fig and orange trees in the Arizona desert? What does it mean to know every inch of a village you have never seen, a village that no longer exists? In this groundbreaking volume, 102 Palestinians in North America and the United Kingdom reflect in their own words on what it means to be Palestinian in the diaspora. Men and women, young and old, Christians and Muslims, including well-known academics, poets, writers, faith leaders and singers, reveal their tangled ties to ‘home’ and ‘homeland’, exploring how Palestine in the diaspora can be both lost and found, bereaved and celebrated, lived and longed-for.
Publisher’s description: The memoirs of Wasif Jawhariyyeh are a remarkable treasure trove of writings on the life, culture, music, and history of Jerusalem. Spanning over four decades, from 1904 to 1948, they cover a period of enormous and turbulent change in Jerusalem’s history, but change lived and recalled from the daily vantage point of the street storyteller. Oud player, music lover and ethnographer, poet, collector, partygoer, satirist, civil servant, local historian, devoted son, husband, father, and person of faith, Wasif viewed the life of his city through multiple roles and lenses. The result is a vibrant, unpredictable, sprawling collection of anecdotes, observations, and yearnings as varied as the city itself. Reflecting the times of Ottoman rule, the British mandate, and the run-up to the founding of the state of Israel, The Storyteller of Jerusalem offers intimate glimpses of people and events, and of forces promoting confined, divisive ethnic and sectarian identities. Yet, through his passionate immersion in the life of the city, Wasif reveals the communitarian ethos that runs so powerfully through Jerusalem’s past. And that offers perhaps the best hope for its future.
Publisher’s description: Children of the Stone is the unlikely story of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a boy from a Palestinian refugee camp in Ramallah who confronts the occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream a reality. That dream is of a music school in the midst of a refugee camp in Ramallah, a school that will transform the lives of thousands of children through music. (…) Children of the Stone is a story about music, freedom and conflict; determination and vision. It’s a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the past and future of musical collaboration across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children see new possibilities for their lives. against the odds to create something lasting and beautiful in a war-torn land.
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.