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RECENT BOOKS RELATING TO ISRAEL/PALESTINE

We plan to update this section every 3 to 4 months. Please contact us if you have any comments or ideas for new books to be included in a future posting. When it is updated, all the books previously on it will be transferred to the appropriate older books section.

MEMOIRS/BIOGRAPHY/ORAL TESTIMONIES

Amos Oz: Dear Zealots: Letters from a divided land (Chatto & Windus, 2018, £10.99)

Ehud Barak: My country, my life: Fighting for Israel, searching for peace (St. Martin’s Press, 2018, £25)

Colin Anderson: Balfour in the dock: J.M.N.Jefferies and the case for the prosecution (Skyscraper, 2017, £16.99)

THE ARTS – FICTION/POETRY/PHOTOGRAPHY

Naomi Foyle (Ed.): A blade of grass: New Palestinian poetry (Smokestack Books, 2017, paperback, £9.99)

Nathan Englander: Dinner at the centre of the earth (Orion, 2018, paperback, £8.99)

HISTORY

Ilan Pappé: Israel (Routledge, 2018, paperback, £29.99)

Michael Brenner: In search of Israel: The history of an idea (University of Princeton Press, 2018, £24.95)

Phyllis Bennis: Understanding the Palestinian- Israeli conflict: A primer (7th edition)(Olive Branch Press, 2018)

CURRENT AFFAIRS/POLITICS

Ben White: Cracks in the wall: Beyond Apartheid in Israel/Palestine (Pluto, 2018, paperback, £9.99)

Jamie Stern-Weiner: Moment of truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine’s toughest questions (OR Books, 2018, paperback, £18)

Greg Shupak: The wrong story (OR Books, 2018, paperback, £13)

Karl Sabbagh: A Modest Proposal: to solve the Palestine-Israel conflict (Skyscraper Books, 2018, paperback, £10)



MEMOIRS/BIOGRAPHY/ORAL TESTIMONIES


Amos Oz: Dear Zealots: Letters from a divided land (Chatto & Windus, 2018, £10.99)

Publisher’s description: This collection of three new essays – all based on talks delivered by Oz – was written out of a sense of urgency, concern, and a belief that a better future is still possible. It touches on the universal nature of fanaticism and its possible cures; the Jewish roots of humanism and the need for a secular pride in Israel; and the geopolitical standing of Israel in the wider Middle East and internationally. These three pleas illuminate the argument over Israeli, Jewish and human existence, and Amos Oz sheds a clear and surprising light on vital political and historical issues, daring to offer new ways out of a reality that appears to be closed down. Dear Zealots is a significant document that outlines Amos’s current thinking about the Middle East – urgent reading for anyone interested in the conflict.

Reviews: none yet available



Ehud Barak: My country, my life: Fighting for Israel, searching for peace (St. Martin’s Press, 2018, £25)

Publisher’s description: The definitive memoir of one of Israel’s most influential soldier-statesmen and one-time Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, with insights into forging peace in the Middle East. In the summer of 2000, the most decorated soldier in Israel’s history—Ehud Barak—set himself a challenge as daunting as any he had faced on the battlefield: to secure a final peace with the Palestinians. He would propose two states for two peoples, with a shared capital in Jerusalem. He knew the risks of failure. But he also knew the risks of not trying: letting slip perhaps the last chance for a generation to secure genuine peace. It was a moment of truth. It was one of many in a life intertwined, from the start, with that of Israel. Born on a kibbutz, Barak became commander of Israel’s elite special forces, then army Chief of Staff, and ultimately, Prime Minister. My Country, My Life tells the unvarnished story of his—and his country’s—first seven decades; of its major successes, but also its setbacks and misjudgments. (…) Drawing on his experiences as a military and political leader, he sounds a powerful warning: Israel is at a crossroads, threatened by events beyond its borders and by divisions within. The two-state solution is more urgent than ever, not just for the Palestinians, but for the existential interests of Israel itself. Only by rediscovering the twin pillars on which it was built—military strength and moral purpose—can Israel thrive.

Reviews: none yet available



Colin Anderson: Balfour in the dock: J.M.N.Jefferies and the case for the prosecution (Skyscraper, 2017, £16.99)

Publisher’s description: During the 1920s and 30s, a British journalist, J.M.N. Jeffries. followed the events in Palestine with growing anger, as he saw the effects of the Balfour Declaration of 1917 on the indigenous Arab inhabitants as they faced the loss of their rights and their land to a movement, political Zionism, which wanted to take over Palestine and turn it into a Jewish state. Andersen has written the first ever biography of Jeffries and of how he came to write his monumental book, Palestine: The Reality, which revealed the truth about the injustice being inflicted on the Palestinians. He also tells the story of how the book disappeared from circulation after publication, and has only now been republished in the centenary year of the Balfour Declaration. Balfour in the Dock is a devastating indictment of British policy in the Middle East and strengthens the growing campaign for an apology for the Balfour Declaration which has caused such havoc in world politics over the last hundred years.
 
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Palestine Chronicle





THE ARTS – FICTION/POETRY/PHOTOGRAPHY


Naomi Foyle (Ed.): A blade of grass: New Palestinian poetry (Smokestack Books, 2017, paperback, £9.99)

Publisher’s description: ‘Against barbarity,’ wrote the celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1942-2008), ‘poetry can resist only by cultivating an attachment to human fragility, like a blade of grass growing on a wall as armies march by.’ A Blade of Grass brings together, in English and in Arabic, new work by poets from the Occupied West Bank and Gaza, from the Palestinian diaspora and from within the disputed borders of Israel. Featuring work by Fady Joudah, Mahmoud Darwish, Maya Abu Al-Hayyat, Deema K. Shehabi, Ashraf Fayadh, Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Naomi Shihab Nye, Marwan Makhoul, Farid Bitar, Fatena Al Ghorra, Dareen Tatour and Sara Saleh, it celebrates the flourishing cultural resistance of the Palestinian people to decades of displacement, occupation, exile and bombardment. Voices fresh and seasoned converse with history, sing to the land, and courageously nurture an attachment to human fragility. Written in free verse and innovative forms, hip-hop rhythms and the Arabic lyric tradition, these poems bear witness both to catastrophe and to the powerful determination to survive it.

Reviews: London Grip



Nathan Englander: Dinner at the centre of the earth (Orion, 2018, paperback, £8.99)

Publisher’s description: From the best-selling author of Pulitzer finalist What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank, Dinner at the Centre of the Earth is a spellbinding thriller, a spy novel and a love story, showcasing Englander’s gifts as never before. Prisoner Z, held at a black site in the Negev desert for a dozen years has only his guard for company. How does a nice American Jewish boy from Long Island wind up an Israeli spy working for Mossad, and later, a traitor to his adopted country? What does it mean to be loyal, what does it mean to be a traitor, when the ideals you cherish are betrayed by the country you love? From Israel and Gaza to Paris, Italy, and America, the story shifts back in time, providing a kaleidoscopic glimpse of Prisoner Z’s improbable journey to his desert cell. Englander’s irresistible hero brings wit and heartbreak to his predicament and the plight of a damaged and riven nation. Taut, provocative, and impossible to put down, a novel of full of shifting surfaces, where nothing and no one is what it seems, Dinner at the Centre of the Earth is the most electrifying work of Nathan Englander’s extraordinary career
 

Reviews: The Guardian
The JC





HISTORY


Ilan Pappé: Israel (Routledge, 2018, paperback, £29.99)

Publisher’s description: Israel is not the only ‘new’ state around, but it is one of the few states whose legitimacy is still questioned, and its future affects the future of the Middle East as a whole and probably the stability of the international system all together. The reasons for this unique reality lies in its past and the particular historical circumstances of its birth. This book seeks to update analysis of the political history, contemporary politics, economics and foreign policy of this unique state. The first part of the book provides a general history of Israel since its inception until 2000. This general history evolves around the political development of the state, beginning with its origins in the early Zionist history (1882–1948) and ending with the turn of the century. The second part focuses on three contemporary aspects of present-day Israel: its political economy, its culture and its international relations. An epilogue describes Israel’s complex international image today and its impact on the state and its future. Providing a solid infrastructure from which readers can form their own opinions, this book offers a fresh perspective on developments both on the ground and in recent scholarship, and is essential reading for students, journalists and policy makers with an interest in Middle Eastern History, Jewish Studies and Israel Studies.
 

Reviews: none yet available



Michael Brenner: In search of Israel: The history of an idea (University of Princeton Press, 2018, £24.95)

Publisher’s description: Many Zionists who advocated the creation of a Jewish state envisioned a nation like any other. Yet for Israel’s founders, the state that emerged against all odds in 1948 was anything but ordinary. Born from the ashes of genocide and a long history of suffering, Israel was conceived to be unique, a model society and the heart of a prosperous new Middle East. It is this paradox, says historian Michael Brenner–the Jewish people’s wish for a homeland both normal and exceptional—that shapes Israel’s ongoing struggle to define itself and secure a place among nations. In Search of Israel is a major new history of this struggle from the late nineteenth century to our time. When Theodor Herzl convened the First Zionist Congress in 1897, no single solution to the problem of “normalizing” the Jewish people emerged. Herzl proposed a secular-liberal “New Society” that would be home to Jews and non-Jews alike. East European Zionists advocated the renewal of the Hebrew language and the creation of a distinct Jewish culture. Socialists imagined a society of workers’ collectives and farm settlements. The Orthodox dreamt of a society based on the laws of Jewish scripture. The stage was set for a clash of Zionist dreams and Israeli realities that continues today. Seventy years after its founding, Israel has achieved much, but for a state widely viewed as either a paragon or a pariah, Brenner argues, the goal of becoming a state like any other remains elusive.

Reviews: Moment
Jewish Book Council



Phyllis Bennis: Understanding the Palestinian- Israeli conflict: A primer (7th edition)(Olive Branch Press, 2018)

Publisher’s description: If you have ever wondered “Why is there so much violence in the Middle East?”, “Who are the Palestinians?”, “What are the occupied territories?” or “What does Israel want?”, then this is the book for you. With straightforward language, Bennis, longtime analyst of the region, answers basic questions about Israel and Israelis, Palestine and Palestinians, the US and the Middle East, Zionism and anti-Semitism; about complex issues ranging from the Oslo peace process to the election of Hamas to the Goldstone Report and Trump’s plan to move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Together her answers provide a comprehensive understanding of the longstanding Palestinian–Israeli conflict. This new edition includes sections on the continuing settlement crisis, Palestine in the Arab Spring, BDS and the Palestinian nonviolent movements, an update on Gaza, US-Israel relations after the election of Donald Trump as president and what’s ahead.

Reviews: The Bowed Bookshelf





CURRENT AFFAIRS/POLITICS


Ben White: Cracks in the wall: Beyond Apartheid in Israel/Palestine (Pluto, 2018, paperback, £9.99)

Publisher’s description: After decades of occupation and creeping annexation, Israel has created an apartheid, one state reality in historic Palestine. Peace efforts have failed because of one, inconvenient truth: the Israeli maximum on offer does not meet the Palestinian minimum, or the standards of international law. But while the situation on the ground is bleak, White argues that there are widening cracks in Israel’s traditional pillars of support. Opposition to Israeli policies and even critiques of Zionism are growing in Jewish communities, as well as amongst Western progressives. The election of Donald Trump has served as a catalyst for these processes, including the transformation of Israel from a partisan issue into one that divides the US establishment. Meanwhile, the Palestinian-led boycott campaign is gathering momentum, prompting a desperate backlash by Israel and its allies. With sharp analysis, Ben White says now is the time to plot a course that avoids the mistakes of the past – a way forward beyond apartheid in Palestine. The solution is not partition and ethnic separation, but equality and self-determination – for all.

Reviews: The National
The New Arab



Jamie Stern-Weiner: Moment of truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine’s toughest questions (OR Books, 2018, paperback, £18)

Publisher’s description: More than a century on from the Balfour Declaration, more than 50 years since the fateful war of 1967, and a full decade into the inhuman siege of Gaza—painfully, absurdly, almost unbelievably—the Israel-Palestine conflict rolls on. Amidst a growing sense that the Palestinians’ long struggle for self-determination has reached a crossroads, if not an impasse, this volume seeks to take stock, draw lessons from experience, and weigh paths forward. Moment of Truth seeks to clarify what it would take to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict, to assess the prospects of doing so, and to illuminate what is possible in Palestine. It assembles an unprecedented wealth of expertise—encompassing political leaders, preeminent scholars, and dedicated activists from Israel, Palestine, and abroad—in direct critical exchange on the issues at the heart of the world’s most intractable conflict. Has Israel’s settlement enterprise made a Palestinian state impossible? Can the Palestinian leadership end the occupation? Is Israel’s rule in the Palestinian territories a form of apartheid? (…) In a series of compelling, enlightening, and at times no-holds-barred debates, leading authorities tackle these and other challenges, exposing myths, challenging preconceptions, and establishing between them a more sober and informed basis for political action.

Reviews: Middle East Eye



Greg Shupak: The wrong story (OR Books, 2018, paperback, £13)

Publisher’s description: The Wrong Story lays bare the flaws in the way large media organizations present the Palestine–Israel issue. It points out major fallacies in the fundamental conceptions that underpin their coverage, namely that Palestinians and Israelis are both victims to comparable extents and are equally responsible for the failure to find a solution; that the problem is “extremists,” often religiously-motivated ones, who need to be sidelined in favour of “moderates”; and that Israel’s uses of force are typically justifiable acts of self-defence. Weaving together the existing literature with new insights, Shupak offers an up-to-date and tightly focused guide that exposes the distorted way these issues are presented and why each is misguided. 

Reviews: The New Arab
Middle East Eye



Karl Sabbagh: A Modest Proposal: to solve the Palestine-Israel conflict (Skyscraper Books, 2018, paperback, £10)

Publisher’s description: The title of this book is ironic. A Modest Proposal... sets out a solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict which is about as immodest as you could get – it will require a huge amount of effort, collaboration, fund-raising and organisation to achieve it.  But in Sabbagh’s view – and that of an increasing number of informed observers of the Middle East – it may be the only solution that will actually work by bringing peace to the region after a hundred years of mismanagement, cowardice, wishful thinking, and prejudice. The solution is simple to describe – the establishment of a new state between the river Jordan and the Mediterranean in which Palestinians and Jews can live as citizens with equal religious, civil and political rights.  This new state will also be open to all Palestinians who were expelled from Palestine in 1948 and 1967 to return home to live. What this book may do is perhaps force people to say “Well, if not this, then what?”  Because the one thing that cannot be denied is the right of people to live in the homeland from which they have been expelled.  If that right is not achievable for the Palestinians by this “modest proposal” for a single state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, combined with the right of return for Palestinians, what other option is there?

Reviews: none yet available

 



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