Current Affairs/Politics

This page presents books previously featured as New and Notable. Titles are listed by year of publication (newest-oldest) and then alphabetically by author surname. Older entries can be found here.













Asa Winstanley. Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023)

Publisher’s description: In an electrifying account, investigative journalist Asa Winstanley shows how Labour’s anti-Semitism crisis was manufactured by pro-Israel groups. Despised and feared by Israel and its allies because of his long-standing support for the Palestine solidarity movement, Jeremy Corbyn became a target of enemies determined to abort his left-wing project.

Drawing on new interviews with many of those victimized in purges the Labour leadership claimed were necessary to tackle anti-Semitism, Winstanley exposes a plot by the Israel lobby, in alliance with the Labour right and Israeli and British intelligence agencies, to prevent a socialist entering Downing Street.


‘[A] very courageous exposé of a taboo subject. As I have said, Winstanley is never at all antisemitic. Like Hil Aked, he emphasises the weakness of the Israel Lobby, which has lost the moral argument in liberal public opinion. In my view, Winstanley over-emphasises the effectiveness of the Israel Lobby and Israeli interference in bringing down Corbyn; but this over-emphasis is not the result of antisemitism but of anti-Zionism. The difference between the two is very clear in this book; Winstanley is an extreme anti-Zionist without being in the least antisemitic. Weaponising Antisemitism is also a fascinating, fast-paced read – a political thriller narrating the real-life story of an extraordinary and appalling mass hysteria and scam’ – JJP signatory Deborah H. Maccoby


Jehad Abusalim et al. (eds.). Light in Gaza: Writings Born of Fire (Haymarket Books, 2022)

Publisher’s description: Gaza, home to two million people, continues to face suffocating conditions imposed by Israel. This distinctive anthology imagines what the future of Gaza could be, while reaffirming the critical role of Gaza in Palestinian identity, history, and struggle for liberation. Light in Gaza is a seminal, moving and wide-ranging anthology of Palestinian writers and artists. It constitutes a collective effort to organize and centre Palestinian voices in the ongoing struggle. As political discourse shifts toward futurism as a means of reimagining a better way of living, beyond the violence and limitations of colonialism, Light in Gaza is an urgent and powerful intervention into an important political moment.


‘Thematically, the stories talk of life under occupation and violence, but only indirectly as the discussions talk of what under normal circumstances would be rather mundane ideas. Families and travel are two main themes as the occupation does its best to restrict travel domestically and abroad (mostly for educational and medical purposes), separating families and in that aspect attempting to eliminate a part of the Palestinian cultural heritage. Life is described as a permanent temporality, not knowing when movement will be allowed or not, when the electricity will be on or not, when there will be water available (when the electricity is on), when one can communicate with one’s distant relatives (mostly when the electricity is on) (…) The stories have a strong emotive content, are honest in their expressions, and above all create a strong sense of humanity and peaceful desires for the people of Gaza’ – Palestine Chronicle


Ramzy Baroud and Ilan Pappé (eds.). Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out (Clarity Press, 2022)

Publisher’s description: Our Vision for Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out aims to challenge several strata of the current Palestine discourse that have led to the present dead end: the American pro-Israel political discourse, the Israeli colonial discourse, the Arab discourse of purported normalization, and the defunct discourse of the Palestinian factions. None promote justice, none have brought resolution; none bode well for any of the parties involved. Here, engaged Palestinian leaders and intellectuals, those who have been actively involved in generating an ongoing Palestinian discourse on liberation, take into account the parameters of their struggle as it now stands. Drawing on their own personal experiences as educators, community leaders, spiritual leaders, artists, historians, human rights activists, political prisoners, and the like, they address what has been and what must next be done, in a manner that reflects not only Palestinian aspirations, but their view of what is possible.


‘a fascinating book, a beautiful book, a real treasure. Twenty-seven Palestinians, distinguished in a variety of fields, tell their narratives: who they are, what it means to be Palestinian, their efforts to keep alive knowledge of the past, and to maintain and grow their cultural heritage’ – Palestine Chronicle


Azmi Bishara. Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice (Hurst, 2022)

Publisher’s description: Drawing on extensive research and rich theoretical analysis, Bishara examines the overlap between the long-discussed ‘Jewish Question’ and what he calls the ‘Arab Question’, complicating the issue of Palestinian nationhood. He addresses the Palestinian Liberation Movement’s failure to achieve self-determination, and the emergence of a ‘Palestinian Authority’ under occupation. He contends that no solution to problems of nationality or settler colonialism is possible without recognising the historic injustices inflicted on Palestinians since the Nakba. This book compellingly argues that Palestine is not simply a dilemma awaiting creative policy solutions, but a problem requiring the application of justice. Attempts by regional governments to marginalise the Palestinian cause and normalise relations with Israel have emphasised this aspect of the struggle, and boosted Palestinian interactions with justice movements internationally. Bishara provides a sober perspective on the current political situation in Palestine, and a fresh outlook for its future.


‘Bishara’s latest work combines a historical overview of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict with the author’s analytical reflections. The Arab scholar has extensive experience in Israeli politics, having served as a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, for over a decade. Bishara was behind the foundation of the Balad party in 1995, which became a platform defending the rights of Arab Israelis and greater democratic freedoms. Outspoken in his criticism of successive Israeli governments, Bishara was brought to court in Israel in 2002 for allegedly supporting Hezbollah (…) Bishara’s historical exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is highly instructive, but it is certainly when discussing current events that the Arab scholar’s analytical skills are at their sharpest’ – Informed Comment


Antony Lerman. Whatever Happened to Antisemitism? Redefinition and the Myth of the ‘Collective Jew’ (Pluto Press, 2022)

Publisher’s description: Antisemitism is one of the most controversial topics of our time. The public, academics, journalists, activists and Jewish people themselves are divided over its meaning. Antony Lerman shows that this is a result of a 30-year process of redefinition of the phenomenon, casting Israel, problematically defined as the ‘persecuted collective Jew’, as one of its main targets. This political project has taken the notion of the ‘new antisemitism’ and codified it in the flawed International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s ‘working definition’ of antisemitism. This text is the glue holding together an international network comprising the Israeli government, pro-Israel advocacy groups, Zionist organisations, Jewish communal defence bodies and sympathetic governments fighting a war against those who would criticise Israel. The consequences of this redefinition have been alarming, supressing free speech on Palestine/Israel, legitimising Islamophobic right-wing forces, and politicising principled opposition to antisemitism.


‘For any anti-racist, Antony Lerman’s book does not make for easy reading. Across almost 300 pages of historical research and analysis, Lerman sketches the genesis of the discourse on the “new anti-semitism”: in short, the equation of anti-Zionism with anti-semitism (…) Lerman’s achievement is to show how the notion of the what constitutes Jewishness, and anti-semitism in turn, has changed shape throughout history, constantly being reforged by political forces’ – Vashti

‘Lerman’s account is comprehensive and forensic (…) The core value of this book to our understanding of the political debates of our time (…) is how it demonstrates not only that the development of the “new antisemitism” project is essentially a political pursuit, rather than an academic one, but also that Israel, its acolytes, and other right-wing political figures have exploited the fears of Jewish communities around the world to muddy the waters of the vital task of dismantling antisemitism, in order to serve their own political agenda. Whatever Happened provides invaluable history and context for those seeking to make sense of how the battle over definitions of antisemitism has been core to a process of attempting to bind Jewish identity to a nationalist project – both among Jews and across wider society’ – +972 Magazine


Sylvain Cypel. The State of Israel vs. the Jews (Other Press, 2021)

Publisher’s description: More than a decade ago, the historian Tony Judt considered whether the behaviour of Israel was becoming not only “bad for Israel itself” but also, on a wider scale, “bad for the Jews.” Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, this issue has grown ever more urgent. In The State of Israel vs. the Jews, veteran journalist Sylvain Cypel addresses it in depth, exploring Israel’s rightward shift on the international scene and with regard to the diaspora. Cypel reviews the little-known details of the military occupation of Palestinian territory, the mindset of ethnic superiority that reigns throughout an Israeli “colonial camp” that is largely in the majority, and the adoption of new laws, the most serious of which establishes two-tier citizenship between Jews and non-Jews. He shows how Israel has aligned itself with authoritarian regimes and adopted the practices of a security state, including the use of technologies such as the software that enabled the tracking and, ultimately, the assassination of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Lastly, The State of Israel vs. the Jews examines the impact of Israel’s evolution in recent years on the two main communities of the Jewish diaspora, in France and the United States, considering how and why public figures in each differ in their approaches.


‘Sylvain Cypel’s new book is a violent indictment of the Jewish homeland, its growing embrace of apartheid and its closeness to some of the worst autocratic and similarly ethnocentric regimes around the world, including Hungary, Brazil and the Philippines. The author is a prominent French newspaper editor and foreign correspondent who lived in Israel for 12 years, trained there to be a youth movement leader and even served in a paratroop brigade after being drafted. Cypel writes with the passion of the convert: someone who believes he has been betrayed by the faith in which he was raised. His father was also a journalist, the editor of France’s Yiddish-language daily, Unzer Wort, and the main leader of labour Zionism in France for a quarter of a century. Cypel was very close to his father, but Zionism ultimately became the “unbridgeable hiatus” between them (…) In a long section about the Jewish diaspora, Cypel points out that Israel’s lurch to the right has produced a growing gap with the liberal traditions of American Jews in the Reform movement’ – Guardian


Leila H. Farsakh (ed.). Rethinking Statehood in Palestine: Self-Determination and Decolonization Beyond Partition (University of California Press, 2021; read online here)

Publisher’s description: The quest for an inclusive and independent state has been at the centre of the Palestinian national struggle for a very long time. This book critically explores the meaning of Palestinian statehood and the challenges that face alternative models to it. Giving prominence to a young set of diverse Palestinian scholars, this groundbreaking book shows how notions of citizenship, sovereignty, and nationhood are being rethought within the broader context of decolonization. Bringing forth critical and multifaceted engagements with what modern Palestinian self-determination entails, Rethinking Statehood sets the terms of debate for the future of Palestine beyond partition.


‘In her coherent and original treatment of the thorny interplay between the Palestinian people’s quest for national self-determination and the possible nation-state formulas for its achievement, Leila Farsakh has assembled an impressive set of studies by solid scholars in their fields. Rethinking Statehood dispassionately examines in its two main parts: the historic record and transformation in the contours of the past half century or more of the Palestinian national movement’s struggle; and, the legal and political models available, if not feasible, for achieving national, and other socio-economic and rights-based, manifestations of self-determination. this review entails a skilful critique of the pitfalls of the national self-determination parameters of a Palestinian struggle with Zionism over a century that has never been solely about statehood or sovereignty (…) [I]t is to Farsakh’s credit that in the current polarized and confrontational context of the Palestinian people’s century long quest for justice, she has broached raised a question most Palestinians deny as relevant, or at best are not willing to address seriously: namely what rights, and what future for Israeli Jews in a beyond-partition, beyond-colonial Palestinian future?’ – Forum for Social Economics


Jeff Halper. Decolonizing Israel, Liberating Palestine: Zionism, Settler Colonialism, and the Case for One Democratic State (Pluto Press, 2021)

Publisher’s description: For decades we have spoken of the ‘Israel-Palestine conflict’, but what if our understanding of the issue has been wrong all along? This book explores how the concept of settler colonialism provides a clearer understanding of the Zionist movement’s project to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, displacing the Palestinian Arab population and marginalizing its cultural presence.  Jeff Halper argues that the only way out of a colonial situation is decolonization: the dismantling of Zionist structures of domination and control and their replacement by a single democratic state, in which Palestinians and Israeli Jews forge a new civil society and a shared political community. To show how this can be done, Halper uses the 10-point program of the One Democratic State Campaign as a guide for thinking through the process of decolonization to its post-colonial conclusion. Halper’s unflinching reframing will empower activists fighting for the rights of the Palestinians and democracy for all.


‘Why listen to Halper? He is an academic, a public intellectual and, as with other Israel critics, actively defying attempts to criminalize anti-Zionism. Halper is also an activist with years of experience on the ground. He is a founding member of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. As well he is part of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), where over the last two years, 50 Palestinians and 20 Israeli Jews have met regularly over the last two years to hammer out a political program (…) Halper is always a thorough researcher, and in this book, he provides a clear conceptual, historical, and comparative analysis of Israeli and global settler colonialism and decolonization. He contends that settler colonialism is always violent and that Israel’s Dominance Management Regime, a totalitarian matrix of control, requires a complete transformation’ – Socialist Project


John Lyons. Dateline Jerusalem: Journalism’s Toughest Assignment (Monash University Publishing, 2021)

Publisher’s description: For Lyons, the six years he spent in Jerusalem as Middle East correspondent for The Australian were the toughest of his forty-year career. He explains how lobby groups attempt to prevent the real story being told, revealing how he himself became a target, and the dirty tricks that are used. He describes how journalists who accurately report what they see can be hounded and vilified, part of a practice of intimidation, harassment and influence peddling that is designed to stop the truth from being told – a practice that must stop. This is an insider’s account of why the real story of the Israel-Palestine conflict goes largely unreported. It is also the story of why, in the wake of the international backlash against media coverage of the May 2021 Israel-Hamas violence, this could be about to change.


Dateline Jerusalem is one of the most astute, recent books on Australia’s Israel lobby and how it harasses the media. The subtitle, Journalism’s Toughest Assignment, is over the top. Being based in Israel is not even close to the hardest role in foreign reporting, although it’s clear Lyons means the pressure a reporter receives for speaking truthfully about Israeli occupation. Nevertheless, Lyons has written a compelling book to explain in detail why and how the lobby acts as it does – and who is being ignored in the process. Lyons alleges that many in the Australian media simply don’t explain the reality of Israel’s occupation because of Zionist lobby pressure. Although the lobby says that the situation is “complicated” Lyons correctly explains that it’s not (…) Lyons has felt the wrath of the Israel lobby and writes honestly about his experiences inside one of the most pro-Israel media organisations on the planet. Sadly, he doesn’t go into any real detail in explaining why it is his former employer is so ferociously supportive of Israel and its occupation. Internationally, News Corp continues to be one of the Jewish state’s staunchest backers’ – Sydney Review of Books


Sara Roy. Unsilencing Gaza: Reflections on Resistance (Pluto Press, 2021)

Publisher’s description: Gaza, the centre of Palestinian nationalism and resistance to the occupation, is the linchpin of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the key to its resolution. Since 2005, Israel has deepened the isolation of the territory, severing it almost completely from its most vital connections to the West Bank, Israel and beyond, and has deliberately shattered its economy, transforming Palestinians from a people with political rights into a humanitarian problem. Sara Roy unpacks this process, looking at US foreign policy towards the Palestinians, as well as analysing the trajectory of Israeli policy toward Gaza, which became a series of punitive approaches meant not only to contain the Hamas regime but weaken Gazan society. Roy also reflects on Gaza’s ruination from a Jewish perspective and discusses the connections between Gaza’s history and her own as a child of Holocaust survivors. This book, a follow up from the renowned Failing Peace, comes from one of the world’s most acclaimed writers on the region.


‘Her basic thesis has been that, since the 1980s, Israel has aimed to avoid the emergence of a Palestinian state by preventing any form of economic development. The other goal of stunting the Palestinian economy is to “eliminate any source of competition with the Israeli economy” (…) Roy identifies a change in Israel’s objectives, which “is no longer just the isolation of Gaza but its disablement, as seen in the policy shift from one that addresses the economy in some manner (whether positively or negatively) to one that dispenses with the concept of an economy altogether”, for this Gaza’s economy has swung “from one driven in large part by private-sector productivity to one dependent on public-sector salaries” (…) While Unsilencing Gaza forcefully and eloquently explains the fact of Gaza being silenced, it does less well on the actual “unsilencing”, that is, giving Gaza and Gazans a voice. And while she is extremely rigorous on sources, numbers, and percentages when debating economics, Roy has fewer exacting standards regarding the social sphere (…) Her sources are almost invariably referred to as “a friend”, “a colleague”, or “an analyst” without providing further details, which proves in certain cases clearly unreliable’ – The Middle East Journal


Lynn Welchman. Al-Haq: A Global History of the First Palestinian Human Rights Organization (University of California Press, 2021; read online here)

Publisher’s description: Established in Ramallah in 1979, al-Haq was the first Palestinian human rights organization and one of the first such organizations in the Arab world. This inside history explores how al-Haq initiated methodologies in law and practice that were ahead of its time and that proved foundational for many strands of today’s human rights work in Palestine and elsewhere. Lynn Welchman looks at both al-Haq’s history and legacy to explore such questions as: Why would one set up a human rights organization under military occupation? How would one go about promoting the rule of law in a Palestinian society deleteriously served by the law and with every reason to distrust those charged with implementing its protections? How would one work to educate overseas allies and activate international law in defence of Palestinian rights? This revelatory story speaks to the practice of local human rights organizations and their impact on international groups.


‘As I was reading Lynn Welchman’s rich and unsparing new book (…) I was struck by a line on page 149 about one of the organization’s founders: “Back in the early eighties when [Raja] Shehadeh still believed in the power of law…” (…) Al-Haq set a course that many other human rights lawyers and activists have followed and adapted to their own contexts: judging a powerful state against the standards of international law and stripping the state of a monopoly over the interpretation of law (…) If we were to think about the results of these efforts like a lawyer, we could bemoan the fact that, to date, no Israeli war criminals have been indicted in any court system. But (…) this accountability work itself – despite the lack of wins – is altering global narratives about Israel and Palestine, and in that regard, legal activism is affecting the political terrain’ – Jadaliyya


Rashid Khalidi. The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonial Conquest and Resistance (Metropolitan, 2020)

Publisher’s description: Drawing on a wealth of untapped archival materials and the reports of generations of family members—mayors, judges, scholars, diplomats, and journalists – The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine upends accepted interpretations of the conflict, which tend, at best, to describe a tragic clash between two peoples with claims to the same territory. Instead, Khalidi traces a hundred years of colonial war on the Palestinians, waged first by the Zionist movement and then Israel, but backed by Britain and the United States, the great powers of the age. He highlights the key episodes in this colonial campaign, from the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the destruction of Palestine in 1948, from Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon to the endless and futile peace process. Original, authoritative, and important, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine is not a chronicle of victimisation, nor does it whitewash the mistakes of Palestinian leaders or deny the emergence of national movements on both sides. In reevaluating the forces arrayed against the Palestinians, it offers an illuminating new view of a conflict that continues to this day.


‘Rashid Khalidi’s account of Jewish settlers’ conquest of Palestine is informed and passionate. It pulls no punches in its critique of Jewish-Israeli policies (policies that have had wholehearted US support after 1967), but it also lays out the failings of the Palestinian leadership. Khalidi participated in this history as an activist scion of a leading Palestinian family: in Beirut during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and as part of the Palestinian negotiating team prior to the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian peace accords. He slams Israel but his is also an elegy for the Palestinians, for their dispossession, for their failure to resist conquest. It is a relentless story of Jewish-Israeli bad faith, alongside one of Palestinian corruption and political short-sightedness’ – Guardian


Arie M. Dubnov and Laura Robson (eds.). Partitions: A Transnational History of Twentieth-Century Territorial Separatism (Stanford University Press, 2019)

Publisher’s description: Partition – the physical division of territory along ethno-religious lines into separate nation-states – is often presented as a successful political ‘solution’ to ethnic conflict. In the twentieth century, at least three new political entities – the Irish Free State, the Dominions (later Republics) of India and Pakistan, and the State of Israel – emerged as results of partition. This volume offers the first collective history of the concept of partition, tracing its emergence in the aftermath of the First World War and locating its genealogy in the politics of twentieth-century empire and decolonization. Making use of the transnational framework of the British Empire, which presided over the three major partitions of the twentieth century, contributors draw out concrete connections among the cases of Ireland, Pakistan, and Israel—the mutual influences, shared personnel, economic justifications, and material interests that propelled the idea of partition forward and resulted in the violent creation of new post-colonial political spaces. In so doing, the volume seeks to move beyond the nationalist frameworks that served in the first instance to promote partition as a natural phenomenon.


‘[A] convincing contribution to shed light on the post-World War I zeitgeist and in support of the empowerment of those who suffered the British Empire’s partitioning of Palestine, Ireland, and India – the three earliest and most prominent instances of partition. Overall, the book, which examines the background on why and how this “moment of partition” occurred, offers a convincing employment of transdisciplinary approaches, research tools, and analysis. Particularly credible is the way the editors and contributors shift research away from the prevailing geopolitical reductionism that is currently so central in most works on ethnoreligious dynamics in conflictual areas’ – The American Historical Review


Michael R. Fischbach. The Movement and the Middle East: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Divided the American Left (Stanford University Press, 2019)

Publisher’s description: The Movement and the Middle East offers the first assessment of the controversial and ultimately debilitating role of the Arab-Israeli conflict among left-wing activists during a turbulent period of American history. Michael R. Fischbach draws on a deep well of original sources – from personal interviews to declassified FBI and CIA documents – to present a story of the left-wing responses to the question of Palestine and Israel. He shows how, as the 1970s wore on, the cleavages emerging within the American Left widened, weakening the Movement and leaving a lasting impact that still affects progressive American politics today.


‘Fischbach describes in impressively researched detail how virtually every political formation of the Left came to define itself in part by its position on Israel’s siege and occupation of historic Palestine. In particular, he focuses on how the 1967 “Six-Day War” was a pivot point between an older generation of communists and socialist Zionists who supported Israel, and a new generation expressing solidarity with the Palestinian self-determination struggle (…) As a few progressives within the Democratic Party slowly push for Palestinian civil rights, and growing organizations like the Democratic Socialists of America try to act on their pledge to support the Palestinian boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement, Fischbach’s book reminds us that unconditional support for Palestinian liberation must be a cornerstone of any healthy, radical political movement. His book is both a fine act of scholarship and a useful intervention in the battle for Palestinian freedom’ – Journal of Palestine Studies


Walter L. Hixson. Israel’s Armor: The Israel Lobby and the First Generation of the Palestine Conflict (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

Publisher’s description: The United States and Israel have long had a ‘special relationship’. The US became the first country in the world to recognize the state of Israel in 1948, and has been an important ally and benefactor ever since. A critical component of the special relationship is the pro-Israel lobby. Although the lobby has been a controversial topic in public affairs, it has been widely understudied. Israel’s Armor fills a gap in the existing literature by examining the origins and early history of the Israel lobby, looking at its influence on American foreign policy, and weaving its activities into the diplomatic history of the first generation of the Palestine conflict. Covering the period roughly from World War II to the pivotal June War, 1967, Walter L. Hixson demonstrates that the Israel lobby from the outset played a crucial role in mobilizing US support for the Zionist state.


Israel’s Armor (…) sets out to prove that the lobby’s influence, while “monumental”, would have been smaller were it not for deeper affinities between the US and Israel, among them the fact that both are settler societies. It is a bold thesis – Hixson posits a “dialectical relationship” between the political and cultural factors – but the book does not quite follow through in illustrating it (…) [W]hile Hixson is a more sophisticated advocate for the lobby thesis than Mearsheimer and Walt, he falls victim to their main error: the conviction that the US national interest is what he thinks it should be. Have presidents and diplomats believed, as Hixson seems to, that this interest lay with Arab states rather than Israel or at least in neutrality between the two? Yes, some have. But, from a historical standpoint, the national interest has no fixed meaning; rather, it is as an object of constant contestation, among power centres like lobbies, to be sure, but also in relation to changing conceptions of what America means at home and in the world. Factors besides the lobby help explain why presidents and diplomats have viewed the national interest differently than realist foreign policy theorists have’ – The Middle East Journal


Dana El Kurd. Polarized and Demobilized: Legacies of Authoritarianism in Palestine (Hurst, 2019)

Publisher’s description: After the 1994 Oslo Accords, Palestinians were hopeful that an end to the Israeli occupation was within reach, and that a state would be theirs by 1999. With this promise, international powers became increasingly involved in Palestinian politics, and many shadows of statehood arose in the territories. Today, however, no state has emerged, and the occupation has become more entrenched. Concurrently, the Palestinian Authority has become increasingly authoritarian, and Palestinians ever more polarised and demobilised. Palestine is not unique in this: international involvement, and its disruptive effects, have been a constant across the contemporary Arab world. This book argues that internationally backed authoritarianism has an effect on society itself, not just on regime-level dynamics. It explains how the Oslo paradigm has demobilised Palestinians in a way that direct Israeli occupation, for many years, failed to do. Using a multi-method approach including interviews, historical analysis, and cutting-edge experimental data, Dana El Kurd reveals how international involvement has insulated Palestinian elites from the public, and strengthened their ability to engage in authoritarian practices. In turn, those practices have had profound effects on society, including crippling levels of polarisation and a weakened capacity for collective action.


‘It is now commonly established, therefore, that the Oslo Accords practically failed to achieve its promise of Palestinian self-governance. In Polarized and Demobilized, Dana El Kurd, a Palestinian researcher at the Arab Centre for Research and Policy Studies, critiques the dominant “failure” thesis for wrongly presuming the positive intentions of the Accords in the first place. She rather affirms that the negative repercussions of the Accords were, in fact, its intended strategic agenda (…) Polarized and Demobilized provides such a sophisticated account that any sort of summary or short review would fail to do it justice. Not only is it one of the most astute empirical analyses of authoritarianism in the region, but it is also an invaluable contribution to international political theory on authoritarianism, (post)colonialism and the social spaces in which the two intersect. The book is also useful as an analytic historical sociology of post-Oslo Palestine. Over and above, it is a truly enjoyable read: one of the very few academic works that combines theoretical sophistication with a smooth, seamless and beautifully articulated narrative’ – LSE Review of Books


Ian S. Lustick. Paradigm Lost: From the Two-State Solution to One-State Reality (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019)

Publisher’s description: Why have Israelis and Palestinians failed to achieve a two-state solution to the conflict that has cost so much and lasted so long? In Paradigm Lost, Ian S. Lustick brings fifty years as an analyst of the Arab-Israeli dispute to bear on this question and offers a provocative explanation of why continued attempts to divide the land will have no more success than would negotiations to establish a one-state solution. Basing his argument on the decisiveness of unanticipated consequences, Lustick shows how the combination of Zionism’s partially successful Iron Wall strategy for dealing with Arabs, an Israeli political culture saturated with what the author calls ‘Holocaustia’, and the Israel lobby’s dominant influence on American policy toward the Arab-Israeli conflict scuttled efforts to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Yet, he demonstrates, it has also unintentionally set the stage for new struggles and ‘better problems’ for both Israel and the Palestinians. Drawing on the history of scientific ideas that once seemed certain but were ultimately discarded, Lustick encourages shifting attention from two-state blueprints that provide no map for realistic action to the democratizing competition that arises when different subgroups, forced to be part of the same polity, redefine their interests and form new alliances to pursue them.


‘Once a supporter of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Lustick now deems that goal a deceptively Solomonic, and often disingenuous, approach to avoiding a “one-state reality” (…) His argument is compelling: whatever promise it once held, the two-state solution is now dead. But in light of the continuing expansive ambitions of Israeli leadership and the simultaneous decay of vision and dynamism among the Palestinians, it is hard to know what exactly should replace the old paradigm’ – Foreign Affairs

‘Lustick admits that the one-state reality has not yet congealed into a distinct paradigm that embraces specific values, premises, strategies, and practices. Yet in the concluding chapter of this work, he comes very close to conflating an oppressive dominant one-state reality with a potentially egalitarian, beneficial, alternative solution. In fact, he goes out of his way to sketch the components of such a vision, based first and foremost on the normative foundation of equality between Palestinians and Israelis living in the same geopolitical space. The logical contradictions inherent in such an argument aside (when do the frequently inequitable contours of the present situation become a solution to the problems they embody?), is this vision any more workable than the now discredited two-state model? Does it supply, even in the longer term, a common set of goals which can effectively bind together the majority of Israelis and Palestinians? (…) The elimination of the domination of one people over another through protracted occupation and possible formal annexation does not dictate the exact form of its political replacement’ – Palestine-Israel Journal

‘Lustick’s argument that a focus on “solutions” should be abandoned in favor of current “reality” is a real contribution to perception and policy alike—although his prediction that a true resolution of the conflict will probably take even more decades is disheartening, if perhaps realistic. Since he also emphasizes the role of unintended consequences, however, one remains determined not to abandon all hope. After all, who could have predicted the end of apartheid in South Africa?’ – Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Orna Ben-Naftali et al. The ABC of the OPT: A Legal Lexicon of the Israeli Control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Publisher’s description: Israel’s half-a-century long rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and some of its surrounding legal issues, have been the subject of extensive academic literature. Yet, to date, there has been no comprehensive, theoretically-informed, and empirically-based academic study of the role of various legal mechanisms, norms, and concepts in shaping, legitimising, and responding to the Israeli control regime. This book seeks to fill this gap, while shedding new light on the subject. Through the format of an A-Z legal lexicon, it critically reflects on, challenges, and redefines the language, knowledge, and practices surrounding the Israeli control regime. Taken together, the entries illuminate the relation between global and local forces – legal, political, and cultural – in Israel and Palestine. The study of the terms involved provides insights that are relevant to other situations elsewhere in the world, particularly with regard to belligerent occupation, the law’s role in relation to state violence, and justice.


‘This book is now the definitive go-to handbook – the indispensable guide – on international human rights and humanitarian law as it applies to occupied Palestine. It is substantive, definitive and utterly persuasive. Against the stardust that is regularly thrown up to either attempt to justify the occupation, or to excuse its many excesses, this book stands as a compelling answer, and a thorough refutation, to those shallow and spurious arguments that are rationalizations for impermissible behaviour rather than any true reflection for what the law stands for today’ – Verfassungsblog


Amy Kaplan. Our American Israel (Harvard University Press, 2018)

Publisher’s description: Our American Israel tells the story of how a Jewish state in the Middle East came to resonate profoundly with a broad range of Americans in the twentieth century. Beginning with debates about Zionism after World War II, Israel’s identity has been entangled with America’s belief in its own exceptional nature. Now, in the twenty-first century, Amy Kaplan challenges the associations underlying this special alliance. Through popular narratives expressed in news media, fiction, and film, a shared sense of identity emerged from the two nations’ histories as settler societies. Americans projected their own origin myths onto Israel: the biblical promised land, the open frontier, the refuge for immigrants, the revolt against colonialism. Israel assumed a mantle of moral authority, based on its image as an “invincible victim”, a nation of intrepid warriors and concentration camp survivors. This paradox persisted long after the Six-Day War, when the United States rallied behind a story of the Israeli David subduing the Arab Goliath. The image of the underdog shattered when Israel invaded Lebanon and Palestinians rose up against the occupation. Israel’s military was strongly censured around the world, including notes of dissent in the United States. Rather than a symbol of justice, Israel became a model of military strength and technological ingenuity. In America today, Israel’s political realities pose difficult challenges. Turning a critical eye on the turbulent history that bound the two nations together, Kaplan unearths the roots of present controversies that may well divide them in the future.


‘A tour de force of both history and cultural studies, it is the first work to describe, fully and rigorously, America’s relationship with Israel in terms of the profound cultural ties that bind the two countries so closely together and to examine their evolving relationship over several generations. The title of Kaplan’s book is extremely telling: This is a story of how a national and colonial settler project in a distant and seemingly exotic part of the world was normalized and Americanized to the point that, in the American imagination, Israelis are seen as close kin. In a certain sense, for many Americans, Israel is a part of us. Amy Kaplan is a historian of American culture and intellectual life at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work is widely respected among scholars in the field for its perceptive understanding of the crucial role of culture in history, and here she offers an exemplary examination of how American exceptionalism and the sense of Israel as a special place and people fostered by Zionism have mirrored each other. For Kaplan, this explains a crucial aspect of the extraordinary affinity between the two peoples: They share a belief that their nation’s existence was divinely ordained and that it is therefore exempt from the rules that apply to other nations’ – The Nation


Anshel Pfeffer. Bibi: The Turbulent Life and Times of Benjamin Netanyahu (Hurst, 2018)

Publisher’s description: In Bibi, Anshel Pfeffer reveals the formative influence of Netanyahu’s father and grandfather, who bequeathed to him a once-marginal brand of Zionism combining Jewish nationalism with religious traditionalism. In the Zionist enterprise, Netanyahu embodies the triumph of the underdogs over the secular liberals who founded the nation. Netanyahu’s Israel is a hybrid of ancient phobia and high-tech hope; of tribalism and globalism – just like the man himself. We cannot understand Israel today without first understanding the man who leads it.


‘Perhaps the most conspicuous surprise in Anshel Pfeffer’s biography of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s long-serving but little-loved prime minister, who glowers from the cover, is his emergence from these pages as a man of unbending principle (…) The final rendering of Netanyahu is devastating. “Israel turns seventy in 2018. Netanyahu will turn seventy in 2019. He is convinced that no one else but him is qualified to lead the nation into its eighth decade and beyond,” Pfeffer concludes. Netanyahu is depicted as a man stricken with an acute case of l’état, c’est moi, a “patriot” with little faith in the remarkable nation he leads, believing only in himself’ – Los Angeles Times

‘Pfeffer rightly focuses on Bibi’s attitude toward the Palestinians. In his first term of office in 1996, he inherited Rabin’s landmark Oslo agreement with the P.L.O., which the Likud opposed, but still grudgingly complied with it. Back in power in 2009 after a period that encompassed the second intifada, Arafat’s death and Ariel Sharon’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, he came to appreciate how Oslo maintained Israel’s security while allowing settlements to expand as the American-led “peace process” went nowhere slowly. Netanyahu was initially seen as committed to a two-state solution while simultaneously demanding that Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. But a few years later the most he was prepared to contemplate was a “state-minus”. Rivals further to the right do not even go that far. “The only peace he has been willing to consider”, Pfeffer concludes, “is one where Israel bullies the Palestinians into submission. Until that happens, he will continue building walls”’ – New York Times


Karl Sabbagh. A Modest Proposal: To Solve the Palestine-Israel Conflict (Skyscraper Books, 2018) 

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?


‘Sabbagh presents as the main theme of his book the creation of a single democratic state in pre-1948 Palestine, offering citizenship to all of its people, Arabs and Jews. But lest you take him for a Pollyanna, he rapidly acknowledges the formidable, political, economic and psychological obstacles standing in the way’ – Middle East Policy Council


Michael Sfard. The Wall and the Gate (Metropolitan Books, 2018)

Publisher’s description: A farmer from a village in the occupied West Bank, cut off from his olive groves by the construction of Israel’s controversial separation wall, asked Israeli human rights lawyer Sfard to petition the courts to allow a gate to be built in the wall. While the gate would provide immediate relief for the farmer, would it not also confer legitimacy on the wall and on the court that deems it legal? The defence of human rights is often marked by such ethical dilemmas, which are especially acute in Israel, where lawyers have for decades sought redress for the abuse of Palestinian rights in the country’s High Court – that is, in the court of the abuser. In The Wall and the Gate, Sfard chronicles this struggle – a story that has never before been fully told – and in the process engages the core principles of human rights legal ethics. Sfard recounts the unfolding of key cases and issues, ranging from confiscation of land, deportations, the creation of settlements, punitive home demolitions, torture, and targeted killings – all actions considered violations of international law. In the process, he lays bare the reality of the occupation and the lives of the people who must contend with that reality. He also exposes the surreal legal structures that have been erected to put a stamp of lawfulness on an extensive program of dispossession. Finally, he weighs the success of the legal effort, reaching conclusions that are no less paradoxical than the fight itself.

Review by JJP signatory David Sperlinger:

Michael Sfard is a leading Israeli human rights lawyer, who has been involved in many of the key legal battles fighting for Palestinians’ legal rights in the face of the Occupation. This impressive book combines a history of some of those battles that have taken place over the last 50 years, along with his descriptions of some of the cases that he has personally been directly involved in. The main sections of the book focus on the litigation relating to five main areas: the deportation of Palestinians from their homeland to other countries (in effect making them stateless refugees); the creation of the settlements on occupied land; the use of torture against Palestinian prisoners; the building of the separation barrier (‘the Wall’); and the development of ”unauthorized” outposts (which has often led to the development of permanent settlements).

From the outset, Sfard makes clear that his work as a lawyer on these cases is underpinned by his uncompromising opposition to the Occupation:

The longer it goes on, the more our rule over the occupied resembles the regimes our parents (…) fought to defeat. This is our current national project: Our army controls the lives of the occupied, who need its permissions and the permits it issues for every daily action. Our soldiers protect, and often help, thieves from among our people who invade the territory we have captured and, at gunpoint, do as they please. Our jurists design a two-tiered legal system: one (modern, generous, respectful) for our brethren living in occupied land, and another (military, cruel, brutal) for their neighbours, the people we occupy.

The book evokes two rather contradictory responses. On the one hand, as well as giving graphic accounts of some of the human rights abuses daily suffered by the Palestinians, the book provides a concrete and depressing picture of the failure of the higher courts generally to protect those rights. Sfard detailed accounts of individual cases make clear the extraordinary lengths the courts have gone to avoid making decisions that would be in line with international human rights laws, especially when those decisions would be highly politically contentious and are presented and perceived to affect “security” matters. These strategies include postponing hearings and putting off making decisions (often for years) and finding ways to decide that the matters involved are not within in the courts’ powers to address.

On the other hand, it is inspiring to read, in spite of these obstacles, of the brave and dogged commitment to continuing the legal fight for human rights which is being shown by so many Israeli and Palestinian lawyers and civil rights groups. This commitment does result, eventually, in some victories in individual cases and some slowing down in the remorseless oppression of the Occupation, although Sfard also recognises the myriad ways that the Israeli state often, in practice, avoids implementing the decisions in many of these cases (including simply not doing what it is legally required to do).

In one of his concluding chapters, Sfard outlines some of the ethical dilemmas for lawyers working on human rights in Israel and attempts to draw up a realistic balance sheet of the impact of all this legal activity on the fight against the Occupation. He looks at this evaluation in terms of three layers: providing a remedy for the client; challenging a policy; and regime change – that is the impact on the Occupation’s shelf life and durability. This is a very nuanced account (that it is not possible to briefly summarise in this review) that recognizes that “victories” in individual cases, may actually have long-term negative impacts that mean that they should be seen as “failures” in terms of halting the Occupation. (On the other hand, he also recognises that a few of the “defeats” in individual cases may actually be “successes”, in terms of mitigating some aspect of the Occupation, when seen from a longer-term perspective. For example, in relation to deportation, where, despite all the legal defeats, the succession of legal cases, along with other forms of struggle, raised the political cost of deportation and ultimately the campaign ended in success.) He is also well aware that one of the costs of litigating in these cases is that they can provide legitimacy to the practices of the regime and his overall conclusions are typically measured and honest:

Litigation can help a public movement, providing tools and information. It can also compel the authorities to make a decision or take a position. But it is not the main tool for change: it cannot replace a public movement and is rarely able to effect clear social change without one. (…) Even if the wall we face seems impenetrable, our scraping at it might make a dent. Tipping the scales in legal battle for human right is sometime accomplished by adding small weights over time – we will see no change until the final weight shifts the balance. (…) It seems clear that the litigation against human rights violations of the occupation did produce some positive outcomes over the years: a few victories, more successes and many clients who received remedy. (…) But the question remains: How much damage has been done by the legitimacy lent to policies upheld by the court and to the occupation regime itself?

I was initially daunted by the detail that the book goes into at times about the individual cases and the Israeli and international legislation to which they relate. But such is the clarity of the Sfard’s writing and the importance of the issues being addressed, that I ended up being gripped by the book’s lively account of the numerous legal battles. This is an important and, ultimately, moving book that provides a fascinating insight into one significant aspect of the struggle for justice for the Palestinians living under the Occupation.


Greg Shupak. The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel, and the Media (OR Books, 2018)

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. 


‘After reading The Wrong Story, a previously uninformed reader should find themselves questioning the reporting, commentary and key ideas underpinning the conflict. It’s a heavily referenced record of existing literature and reportage, which not only disentangles the media narrative but produces the background that’s been missing. If nothing else, the reader should finish Shupak’s book with the understanding that they need more than one paper’s coverage before forming an opinion on Palestine’ – The New Arab


Jamie Stern-Weiner (ed.). Moment of Truth: Tackling Israel-Palestine’s Toughest Questions (OR Books, 2018)

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.


‘With more than 50 contributors, including such distinguished voices as Richard Falk, Norman Finkelstein and Gideon Levy, among many others, the book lays out some of the toughest questions on the conflict and considers the facts on the ground (…) The book is gargantuan, as are the dimensions of the conflict, so the editor can’t take on everything, but what the book does present is pertinent and illuminating’ – Middle East Eye


Ben White. Cracks in the Wall: Beyond Apartheid in Israel/Palestine (Pluto Press, 2018)

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.


‘White, a long-time observer of the Israel-Palestine conflict, advances two important arguments. The first is that Israel is an “apartheid” state in practice because it denies Palestinians in the occupied territories under its de facto rule rudimentary civil rights; they live under Israeli authority but are treated in law as a people apart. White’s other argument is that serious cracks are appearing in the cast-iron bipartisan support Israel has long enjoyed in the West. “Israel’s deteriorating image amongst the liberal left”, he writes, “is a phenomenon that looks impossible to reverse” (…) It is impossible to fault White’s call for equality which is not far removed from what Theodor Herzl, the author of Zionism’s foundational text, wanted. At the same time, it is difficult to overlook the fact that White knows Palestinian society better than he understands contemporary Israel’ – The National


Yael Berda. Living Emergency: Israel’s Permit Regime in the West Bank (Stanford University Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: In 1991, the Israeli government introduced emergency legislation cancelling the general exit permit that allowed Palestinians to enter Israel. The directive, effective for one year, has been reissued annually ever since, turning the Occupied Territories into a closed military zone. Today, Israel’s permit regime for Palestinians is one of the world’s most extreme and complex apparatuses for population management. Yael Berda worked as a human rights lawyer in Jerusalem and represented more than two hundred Palestinian clients trying to obtain labour permits to enter Israel from the West Bank. With Living Emergency, she brings readers inside the permit regime, offering a first-hand account of how the Israeli secret service, government, and military civil administration control the Palestinian population. Through interviews with Palestinian laborers and their families, conversations with Israeli clerks and officials, and research into the archives and correspondence of governmental organizations, Berda reconstructs the institutional framework of the labyrinthine permit regime, illuminating both its overarching principles and its administrative practices. In an age where terrorism, crime, and immigration are perceived as intertwined security threats, she reveals how the Israeli example informs global homeland security and border control practices, creating a living emergency for targeted populations worldwide.


‘Berda argues that the permit regime in the West Bank is a sophisticated apparatus aimed at the racial management of movement in a settler colonial context. As such, the permit regime serves as a means of controlling and monitoring the Palestinian population through security classifications. The book’s relevance is not limited to Israel/Palestine, however, since “the management of Palestinian population in Israel has served as a laboratory for policies and technologies restricting mobility, particularly to police social inequalities”. Deciphering the Israeli system of control in the West Bank is thus important for understanding contemporary technologies of control, varying from urban policing to “the global war on terror”’ – Society and Space


Gregg Carlstrom. How Long Will Israel Survive: The Threat from Within (Hurst, 2017)

Publisher’s description: Israel is surrounded by an array of ever-changing threats. But what if its most serious challenge comes from within? There was once a national consensus in Israeli society: despite a left-right political split, its people were broadly secular and liberal. Over the past decade, the country has fractured into tribes with little shared understanding of what it means to be a Zionist – let alone an Israeli – and contesting the very notion of a ‘Jewish and democratic’ state. While this shift has profound implications for Israel’s relationship with the broadly liberal Jewish diaspora, the greatest consequences will be felt at home. Israel’s tribes increasingly lead separate lives; even the army, once a great melting-pot, is now a political and cultural battleground. Tamir Pardo, former head of Mossad, has warned of the risk of civil war. Carlstrom maps this conflict, from cosmopolitan Tel Aviv to the hilltops of the West Bank, and asks a pressing question: will the Middle East’s strongest power survive its own internal contradictions?


‘Carlstrom agrees with the analysis of President Rivlin of Israel (himself a fascinating and contradictory character) that the country is divided into four “tribes”. The largest for the moment is that of secular Zionists, including conservatives and “Tel Aviv liberals” – the kind of people who run the tourist agency and vote in Eurovision. The second is the “national religious”, i.e. mostly nationalist, right, which has particular support among the young. The third is the Arab minority and the fourth the ultra-Orthodox or Haredi (…) Meanwhile, there is no great division over how to deal with the Palestinians (… ) In this mix Carlstrom describes a kind of slow Erdoganisation – an intolerance of contrary views, an inward gaze, a weakening of liberal values’ – The Times


Haidar Eid (ed.). Countering the Palestinian Nakba: One State for All (Noor Publishing, 2017)

Publisher’s description: What do Palestinian, American and anti-Zionist Israeli intellectuals, artists and academicians think of the various ‘peace processes’ and failed solutions to 69 years of dispossession and Diaspora? Are there alternative solutions and is there an effective and legitimate resistance? This collection of analytical writing on the conflict is composed almost entirely of essays by intellectuals and activists critical of the dominant US/Israeli political ideology in the Middle East. By featuring voices of American, Israeli, and Palestinian intellectuals and activists from a broad cross-section of academic institutions and civil society organizations, this collection aims to provide an in-depth look at how alternative political programs and struggles can offer prospects for a just peace in Palestine. The argument made is that the only just solution to the conflict is the establishment of a unitary state in which all inhabitants are treated equally regardless of their religion and ethnicity. What is envisioned is a solution based on resolutions of international legitimacy which accord the Palestinian people their basic rights – i.e., return of dispossessed refugees, and equality.


‘[A]ll contributing writers are proponents of the one-state alternative. This collection, unlike instances where the one-state possibility is mentioned without any proper discussion of what it would entail, is adamant about the incompatibility of Zionist ideology with democracy, thus making it clear that any talk of one-state should not be contaminated by the Israeli narrative and thus become the precedent for the entire colonisation of Palestine’ – Middle East Monitor


Kareem Estefan (ed.). Assuming Boycott: Resistance, Agency, and Cultural Production (OR Books, 2017)

Publisher’s description: Boycott and divestment are essential tools for activists around the globe. Today’s organizers target museums, universities, corporations, and governments to curtail unethical sources of profit, discriminatory practices, or human rights violations. They leverage cultural production – and challenge its institutional supports – helping transform situations in the name of social justice. The refusal to participate in an oppressive system has long been one of the most powerful weapons in the organizer’s arsenal. (…) Assuming Boycott is the essential reader for today’s creative leaders and cultural practitioners, including original contributions by artists, scholars, activists, critics, curators and writers who examine the historical precedent of South Africa; the current cultural boycott of Israel; freedom of speech and self-censorship; and long-distance activism. Far from withdrawal or cynicism, boycott emerges as a productive tool of creative and productive engagement.


‘Altogether, Assuming Boycott covers the steps that were taken to initiate boycotts, the reasons behind them and their effects, good and bad (…) The book aims to lay out the positives and negatives of boycott movements, but the editors, judging by the introduction, are decidedly for using cultural boycotts as a tool for change (…) The collection of essays provides a guideline on how to maintain a cultural boycott and, through its words of caution, offers sound advice on current and possible challenges that threaten to deter boycott movements. Artists might find the book particularly insightful since several artists here share their personal anecdotes and advice for engaging with a cultural boycott. However, possibly because of the large number of writers and diverse viewpoints, the collection feels disjointed. This is especially evident in the last chapter, where the essays are not cohesive’ – Electronic Intifada


Richard Falk. Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace (Pluto Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine (2008-2014), has dedicated much of his life to the study of the Israel/Palestine conflict. In Palestine’s Horizon, he brings his experiences to bear on one of the most controversial issues of our times. This book explores the intricacies and interconnections of the history and politics of Israel/Palestine, in light of the global community’s troubled morality. After enduring years of violent occupation, the Palestinian movement is exploring different avenues for peace. These include the pursuit of rights under international law in venues such as the UN and International Criminal Court, and the new emphasis on global solidarity and non-violent militancy embodied by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Campaign, among others. Falk refutes the notion that the Palestinian struggle is a ‘lost cause’ by focusing on new tactics of resistance.

Palestine’s Horizon is a thoughtful and timely monograph on where the struggle for Palestinian and, by extension, Israeli liberation is today. As ever, it is a movement that must be guided as much, if not more, by the metaphysical realm of principle, morality, and justice as by the physical realms of politics, capital, and force. For anyone who cares to explore a deeper and more critical analysis of the contemporary history and geopolitics of Palestine/Israel, as explained through the relationship between hard and soft power in global politics, this is a book that should be consulted’ – Journal of Palestine Studies


Aeyal Gross. The Writing on the Wall: Rethinking the International Law of Occupation (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: As Israel’s control of the Occupied Palestinian Territory nears its fiftieth anniversary, The Writing on the Wall offers a critical perspective on the international law of occupation. Advocating a normative and functional approach to occupation and to the question of when it exists, it analyses the application of humanitarian and human rights law, pointing to the risk of using the law of occupation in its current version to legitimize new variations of conquest and colonialism. The book points to the need for reconsidering the law of occupation in light of changing forms of control, such as those evident in Gaza. Although the Israeli occupation is a main focal point, the book broadens its compass to look at other cases, such as Iraq, Northern Cyprus, and Western Sahara, highlighting the role that international law plays in all of these cases.


‘Gross uses a “functional” critique to analyse the issue of occupation from legal realist perspectives, using a contextual analysis to highlight the actual consequences and impact of legal rules on the lives of persons. The crux of his proposition is that the scope of the occupier’s obligations and responsibilities should be determined by the degree of power and control that it exercises functionally. Such a proposal goes beyond the common understanding that emphasizes effective territorial control when determining the obligation of an occupying power. It also transcends the fixation of the conceptual approach on the all-or-nothing, sovereignty-occupation binary (…) Readers may be gripped by his sustained challenge to the general thesis that IHRL can enhance effectiveness in safeguarding civilians under occupation. All of the chapters are unified by a common theme – revealing the inherent indeterminacy in the foundation of the law of occupation and highlighting the need to reconceptualize the legal framework of occupation from a functional perspective’ – American Journal of International Law


Mya Guarnieri Jaradat. The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others (Pluto Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: Drawing on a decade of courageous and pioneering reporting, Mya Guarnieri Jaradat brings us an unprecedented and compelling look at the lives of asylum seekers and migrant workers in Israel, who hail mainly from Africa and Asia. From illegal kindergartens to anti-immigrant rallies, from detention centres to workers’ living quarters, from family homes to the high court, The Unchosen sheds light on one of the most little-known but increasingly significant aspects of Israeli society. In highlighting Israel’s harsh and worsening treatment of these newcomers, The Unchosen presents a fresh angle on the Israel-Palestine conflict, calling into question the state’s perennial justification for mistreatment of Palestinians: ‘national security’. More fundamentally, this beautifully written book captures the voices and the struggles of some of the most marginalised and silenced people in Israel today.


The Unchosen is about much more than the heartbreaking accounts of migrant workers seeking a decent life and refugees escaping genocidal wars and brutal authoritarian regimes. It also documents the resistance waged by both migrant workers and asylum seekers and the gradual awakening of Jewish Israelis to the nature of their government’ – Electronic Intifada


Jewish Voice for Peace. On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice (Haymarket Books, 2017)

Publisher’s description: When the State of Israel claims to represent all Jewish people, defenders of Israeli policy redefine antisemitism to include criticism of Israel. Antisemitism is harmful and real in our society. What must also be addressed is how the deployment of false charges of antisemitism or redefining antisemitism can suppress the global progressive fight for justice. There is no one definitive voice on antisemitism and its impact. Jewish Voice for Peace has curated a collection of essays that provides a diversity of perspectives and standpoints. Each contribution explores critical questions concerning uses and abuses of antisemitism in the twenty-first-century, focusing on the intersection between anti-Semitism, accusations of anti-Semitism, and Palestinian human rights activism. (…) Featuring contributions from Omar Barghouti, Judith Butler, and Rebecca Vilkomerson, as well as activists, academics, students, and cultural workers, On Antisemitism includes the voices of Palestinian students and activists, and Jews that are often marginalized in mainstream discussions of anti-Semitism, including Jews of Color and Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews.


‘If you want to understand how anti-Semitism has changed and how the Zionist movement has redefined and fashioned it into a weapon to be employed against their perceived enemies, then there is no better book than On Anti-Semitism by Jewish Voice for Peace’ – Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies


Julie Peteet. Space and Mobility in Palestine (Indiana University Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: Peteet believes that the concept of mobility is key to understanding how place and space act as forms of power, identity, and meaning among Palestinians in Israel today. In Space and Mobility in Palestine, she investigates how Israeli policies of closure and separation influence Palestinian concerns about constructing identity, the ability to give meaning to place, and how Palestinians comprehend, experience, narrate, and respond to Israeli settler-colonialism. Peteet’s work sheds new light on everyday life in the Occupied Territories and helps explain why regional peace may be difficult to achieve in the foreseeable future.


Space and Mobility in Palestine investigates the contemporary role of closure and separation in delimiting the ambit of Palestinian life. Palestinian dispossession is rendered here as the result of normalized and ritualized practices entrenched over the course of several decades in Israel’s “enclavization” of Palestine, first at the horizon of political futurity – Peteet argues that commitment to the geographical separation of Israelis and Palestinians drove the final negotiations that resulted in the Oslo Accords – and second in the construction of a material landscape that includes the separation barrier snaking through the West Bank, a system of more than five hundred checkpoints and Israeli- only roadways crisscrossing the occupied territories, and the ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip (…) Peteet’s anthropology is both archival and theoretical. It provides us a nuanced habitus, one that articulates a wider set of incisive understandings of the patterns, practices, and effects of settler- colonial rule that grow out of that habitus’ – Journal of Palestine Studies

‘Peteet’s historical and political analysis, importantly, links the settler colonial project of the1948 war and the establishment of the state of Israel, to the spatial turning point of June 1967, when Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem. As she does with Israel’s initial settler-colonial processes, Peteet examines two complementary strategies implemented by Israel to relocate borders and boundaries, shift populations and reshape the occupied territories: the construction of a massive outer ring of Jewish neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, and the establishment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Both are referred to as colonies by Peteet – colonies that currently house over 700,000 people and serve to constrict all Palestinian development. Other Israeli policies, such as house demolitions, the prevention of immigration and control over land further restrict Palestinian development (…) Throughout this book, it becomes clear that politics in settler-colonial societies are racialised and characterized by gradual processes of social polarization, primarily along ethno-national lines. Within this context, mobility, housing, infrastructure and employment are marked by deep patterns of segregation, inequality and exclusion that minimize the control of indigenous members over resources and territory. Indeed, Peteet presents a pessimistic picture of the current conditions in Israel\Palestine. The apartheidization processes draws on three interrelated dynamics: an existing political infrastructure that facilitates division and separation via governance and planning (occupation, colonization); existing spatial conditions that implement political hierarchies, limitations on movement, and political boundaries (road systems, the Separation Wall); and a permeating presence of private, non-state actors, which take part in the process of institutionalized separation in and of the region (settler movements, private companies)’ – MERIP


William I. Robinson and Maryam S. Griffin (eds.). We Will Not Be Silenced: The Academic Repression of Israel’s Critics (Pluto Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: This book is a collection of first-hand testimonials by scholars and students in the United States who have been targeted for persecution by the Israel lobby over the content of their teaching, scholarship and activism with regards to the Israel-Palestine conflict, and the Palestinian freedom struggle. As criticism continues to mount over Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights and of international law, campaigns to silence and repress those who speak out against Israeli apartheid and US complicity have grown alarmingly. College and university campuses across the United States now find themselves at the centre stage of this conflict over free speech: scholars have been turned away from jobs, denied tenure and promotion, rejected for funding, and expelled from institutions, while student organisations have faced harassment and sanctions.


‘an instructive compendium of the pro-Israel lobby’s bag of underhanded tricks and an invaluable playbook for how to preempt and defeat them (…) Despite appearances, the pro-Israel lobby is not winning these campus skirmishes. All of us who work for social justice should take heart and fight smart’ – Mondoweiss


Nadim N. Rouhana (ed.). Israel and Its Palestinian Citizens: Ethnic Privileges in the Jewish State (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: This volume presents new perspectives on Israeli society, Palestinian society, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Based on historical foundations, it examines how Israel institutionalizes ethnic privileging among its nationally diverse citizens. Arab, Israeli, and American contributors discusses the paradoxes of democratic claims in ethnic states, as well as dynamics of social conflict in the absence of equality. This book advances a new understanding of Israel’s approach to the Palestinian citizens, covers the broadest range of areas in which Jews and Arabs are institutionally differentiated along ethnic basis, and explicates the psycho-political foundations of ethnic privileges.


‘This is a variegated, in-depth book, fundamental and informative to any layman interested in the Arab minority in Israel and the practices employed toward it. A foundation to any reader interested in learning how a covert semi-democracy is practiced efficiently, and to any reader interested in practices of dominating a minority in hegemonic nation states’ – Ethnic and Racial Studies


Ella Shohat. On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements: Selected Writings (Pluto Press, 2017)

Publisher’s description: Spanning several decades, Shohat’s work has introduced conceptual frameworks that fundamentally challenged conventional understandings of Palestine, Zionism and the Middle East, focusing on the pivotal figure of the Arab-Jew. This book gathers together her most influential political essays, interviews, speeches, testimonies and memoirs, as well as previously unpublished material. Defying the binarist and Eurocentric Arab-versus-Jew rendering of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, Shohat’s work has dared to engage with the deeper historical and cultural questions swirling around colonialism, Orientalism and nationalism. Shohat’s paradigm-shifting work unpacks such fraught issues as the anomalies of the national/colonial in Zionist discourse; the narrating of Jewish pasts in Muslim spaces; the links and distinctions between the dispossession of the Nakba and the dislocation of Arab-Jews; the traumatic memories triggered by partition and border-crossing; the echoes within Islamophobia of the anti-Semitic figure of ‘the Jew’; and the efforts to imagine a possible future inter-communal ‘convivencia’. Shohat’s transdisciplinary perspective illuminates the cultural politics in and around the Middle East. Juxtaposing texts of various genres written in divergent contexts, the book offers a vivid sense of the author’s intellectual journey.


‘The thread running through the collection is Shohat’s reflection on Arabness and Jewishness and how the pursuit of the Zionist project has driven a wedge between them without entirely succeeding in prising the two apart (…) Israel’s establishment has had a less catastrophic effect on the Mizrahim than on the Palestinians: they have not become stateless and, although largely concentrated in the poorer strata of Israeli society, they have been generally spared the acute insecurity and deprivation that is the lot of most Palestinians. Nevertheless, their uprooting, the negation of their history in the Arab world and the daily racism they face in Israel have left a deep and enduring imprint on their lives’ – Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies


Matthew Vickery. Employing the Enemy: The Story of Palestinian Labourers on Israeli Settlements (Zed Books, 2017)

Publisher’s description: How would it feel to build homes on land stolen from you? This bitter toil is the daily reality for many Palestinians. Currently, thousands of Palestinians are working in, and building, illegal Israeli settlements. This work entails a rejection of their legal rights, little to no job security, low wages and dangerous working conditions. Through a vivid and moving narrative, based on many conversations with these workers and their families, Vickery explores the rationale, emotions, thoughts and consequences of such employment. In doing so, he draws attention to a previously neglected aspect of the Palestinian experience and Israeli subjugation. This, coupled with an innovative and ground-breaking analysis of the Israeli government’s role in the settlement employment sector, exposes the true nature of these practices as a new, insidious form of state-sponsored forced labour.


‘This short but disturbing book explores the apparently puzzling contradiction that many of the Israeli settlements on the West Bank rely on employing large numbers of Palestinians for their farms, industries and even for their construction (…) Vickery generally writes clearly and movingly about the lives and conflicts of the people that he met (although, on occasions, his very lengthy sentences can be a bit hard to follow).  His analysis is generally compelling about the factors that have created and that perpetuate this situation, although a chapter developing Marx’s concept of a “reserve army of labour” did not seem to add greatly to the argument. He also makes a strong case that the work of Palestinians in the settlements falls under the International Labour Organisation’s definition of “forced labour”’ – JJP signatory David Sperlinger


Yossi Alpher. No End of Conflict: Rethinking Israel-Palestine (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2016)

Publisher’s description: Yossi Alpher, a veteran of peace process research and dialogue, explains how Israel got into its current situation of growing international isolation, political stalemate, and gathering messianic political influence. He investigates the inability of Israelis and Palestinians to make peace and end their conflict before suggesting not “solutions” (as there is no current prospect for a realistic comprehensive solution), but ways to moderate and soften the worst aspects of the situation and “muddle through” as Israel looks to a sombre bi-national future. Alpher argues that a sober reassessment is long overdue in the way the West looks at the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. He submits that we have to stop talking about “the peace process” as if it still seriously exists, that 20 years of the Oslo process have failed for very substantial reasons that the professional peacemakers ignore at their risk, and that Israel is more likely to sink into a single-state reality than to remain truly “Jewish and democratic.” Yet, his is a non-ideological, no nonsense book. Israel will not disappear, will not become impoverished, and will still find strategic partners.


‘In this highly personalized account, he describes an ugly protracted stalemate that appears farther away than ever from a peaceful resolution. But Alpher’s concern is less with the nonresolution of the conflict per se than with the future of Israel as a state that wants to be both Jewish and democratic (…) No End of Conflict argues for abandoning that ideal two-state solution in exchange for something far less satisfying: “muddling through”’ – Middle East Journal


Björn Brenner. Gaza Under Hamas: From Islamic Democracy to Islamist Governance (I.B. Tauris, 2016)

Publisher’s description: Hamas is designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the EU, the USA and the UN. It has made itself notorious for its violent radicalism and uncompromising rejection of the Jewish state. So after its victory in the 2006 elections the world was watching. How would Hamas govern? (…) Brenner investigates what happened after the elections and puts the spotlight on the people over whom Hamas rules, rather than on its ideas. Lodging with Palestinian families and experiencing their daily encounters with Hamas, he offers an intimate perspective of the group as seen through local eyes. The book is based on hard-to-secure interviews with a wide range of key political and security figures in the Hamas administration, as well as with military commanders and members of the feared Qassam Brigades. Brenner has also sought out those that Hamas identifies as local trouble makers: the extreme Salafi-Jihadis and members of the now more quiescent mainstream Fatah party led by Mahmoud Abbas. The book provides a new interpretation of one of the most powerful forces in the Israel-Palestine arena, arguing that the Gazan Islamists carry a potential to be much more flexible and pragmatic than anticipated – if they would think they stand to gain from it. Gaza under Hamas investigates the key challenges to Hamas’s authority and reveals why and in what ways ideology comes second to power consolidation.


‘The book’s focus revolves around three main themes: the political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas’ reaction to Salafist groups and the process of establishing order and a judicial system in Gaza. Drawing upon interviews conducted between 2009 and 2012 with Hamas officials, Palestinians in Gaza, as well as including observations and media reports, Brenner analyses a complex reality from a local perspective, shedding light upon processes and contradictions which are easily overlooked. Most importantly, the book dispels the prevailing polar opposite references to Hamas, bringing about nuanced and informative insight’ – Middle East Monitor


Yifat Gutman. Memory Activism: Reimagining the Past for the Future in Israel/Palestine (Vanderbilt University Press, 2016)

Publisher’s description: Set in Israel in the first decade of the twenty-first century and based on long-term fieldwork, this rich ethnographic study offers an innovative analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It explores practices of “memory activism” by three groups of Jewish-Israeli and Arab-Palestinian citizens – Zochrot, Autobiography of a City, and Baladna – showing how they appropriated the global model of truth and reconciliation while utilizing local cultural practices such as tours and testimonies. These activist efforts gave visibility to a silenced Palestinian history in order to come to terms with the conflict’s origins and envision a new resolution for the future. This unique focus on memory as a weapon of the weak reveals a surprising shift in awareness of Palestinian suffering among the Jewish majority of Israeli society in a decade of escalating violence and polarization–albeit not without a backlash. (…) The walking tour and survivor testimonies originally deployed by the state for national Zionist education that marginalized Palestinian citizens are now being appropriated by activists for tours of pre-state Palestinian villages and testimonies by refugees.


‘[Gutman’s] analysis, albeit highly sophisticated, remains bounded by the parameters of the conceptual framework that infuses the work and vision of Israeli memory activism—an approach, which unavoidably results in the magnification of the impact and relevance of the latter. This receives salient manifestation in the tendency to equate the information (knowledge) that memory activists produce on the pre–48 era and the Nakba with “the truth”. Thereby, not only are the claims and interpretation of the activists largely accepted at face value, but mainly, the Nakba is dissociated from the full historical context of the 1948 War and ultimately from that of the conflict between two national movements. While reconciliation undoubtedly requires an Israeli recognition of its responsibility for Palestinian uprooting and refugeehood, this can only be achieved within a comprehensive solution of the conflict. The latter necessitates a much broader outlook than that offered by memory activists’ – American Journal of Sociology


Philip Leech. The State of Palestine: A Critical Analysis (Routledge, 2016)

Publisher’s description: The Palestinian national movement reached a dead end and came close to disintegration at the beginning of the present century. This critical analysis of internal Palestinian politics in the West Bank traces the re-emergence of the Palestinian Authority’s established elite in the aftermath of the failed unity government and examines the main security and economic agendas pursued by them during that period. Based on extensive field research interviews and participant observation undertaken across several sites in Nablus and the surrounding area, it provides a bottom-up interpretation of the Palestinian Authority’s agenda and challenges the popular interpretation that its governance represents the only realistic path to Palestinian independence. As the first major account of the Palestinian Authority’s political agenda since the collapse of the unity government this book offers a unique explanation for the failure to bring a Palestinian state into being and challenges assumptions within the existing literature by addressing the apparent incoherence between mainstream debates on Palestine and the reality of conditions there.

Reviews: none yet available


Emily McKee. Dwelling in Conflict: Negev Landscapes and the Boundaries of Belonging (Stanford University Press, 2016)

Publisher’s description: Land disputes in Israel are most commonly described as stand-offs between distinct groups of Arabs and Jews. In Israel’s southern region, the Negev, Jewish and Bedouin Arab citizens and governmental bodies contest access to land for farming, homes, and industry and struggle over the status of unrecognized Bedouin villages. ‘Natural’, immutable divisions, both in space and between people, are too frequently assumed within these struggles. Dwelling in Conflict offers the first study of land conflict and environment based on extensive fieldwork within both Arab and Jewish settings. It explores planned towns for Jews and for Bedouin Arabs, unrecognized villages, and single-family farmsteads, as well as Knesset hearings, media coverage, and activist projects. Emily McKee sensitively portrays the impact that dividing lines – both physical and social – have on residents. She investigates the political charge of people’s everyday interactions with their environments and the ways in which basic understandings of people and ‘their’ landscapes drive political developments. While recognizing deep divisions, McKee also takes seriously the social projects that residents engage in to soften and challenge socio-environmental boundaries.


‘Historicizing the landscape in the Naqab, McKee describes Israeli state practices and policies that resulted in the displacement of bedouins and the establishment of Jewish settlements (…) Engaging with critical questions concerning bedouins as indigenous communities in Israel, McKee attempts to trace how displacement and community-building function in the geographic proximity of a landscape shared by colonized and colonizer, contested through discourses and practices of dwelling that both contextualize and decontextualize belonging. Bedouin dwelling, despite state displacement and relocation, is an act of resistance and an adherence to indigenous ways of living. The author fails, however, to strongly connect practices of displacement of Naqab’s bedouin communities with the wider context of the colonization of Palestine, such as in the occupied Palestinian territories’ – Journal of Palestine Studies


Yonatan Mendel and Ronald Ranta. From the Arab Other to the Israeli Self: Palestinian Culture in the Making of Israeli National Identity (Routledge, 2016)

Publisher’s description: This book examines the role played by Arab-Palestinian culture and people in the construction and reproduction of Israeli national identity and culture, showing that it is impossible to understand modern Israeli national identity and culture without taking into account its crucial encounter and dialectical relationship with the Arab-Palestinian indigenous ‘Other’. Based on extensive and original primary sources, including archival research, memoirs, advertisements, cookbooks and a variety of cultural products – from songs to dance steps – From the Arab Other to the Israeli Self sheds light on an important cultural and ideational diffusion that has occurred between the Zionist settlers – and later the Jewish-Israeli population – and the indigenous Arab-Palestinian people in Historical Palestine. By examining Israeli food culture, national symbols, the Modern Hebrew language spoken in Israel, and culture, the authors trace the journey of Israeli national identity and culture, in which Arab-Palestinian culture has been imitated, adapted and celebrated, but strikingly also rejected, forgotten and denied.


‘To demonstrate the process of emulation and appropriation the authors use many examples that are anecdotal rather than systematic. Combined, they provide for an interesting and thought-provoking story of culture and identity. The Jaffa orange, part of the landscape of Palestine, became a symbol of Jewish (Israeli) presence and agriculture a proof of transformation and connection to the land. Zionist settlers claimed the land also by transforming themselves in order to prove their inheritance by identifying themselves with landscape. Walking the land in “biblical” sandals, giving Hebrew names to the plants and flowers, drinking black (“Arab”) coffee and wearing the traditional kefiyah, were all part of the process. Unlike material elements, however, symbols are not easily appropriated, as they constantly change and remain open for reappropriation. Biblical sandals, for example, are nowadays proudly worn by religious settlers – who claim to be the heirs of Zionism. The kefiyah, conversely, has been for decades the symbol of Palestinian nationhood and resistance’ – Issues in Contemporary Jewish History


Dave Rich. The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti-Semitism (Biteback Publishing, 2016)

Publisher’s description: With three separate inquiries into anti-Semitism in the Labour Party in the first six months of 2016 alone, it seems hard to believe that, until the 1980s, the British left was broadly pro-Israel. And while the election of Jeremy Corbyn may have thrown a harsher spotlight on the crisis, it is by no means a recent phenomenon. The widening gulf between British Jews and the anti-Israel left – born out of antiapartheid campaigns and now allying itself with Islamist extremists who demand Israel’s destruction – did not happen overnight or by chance: political activists made it happen. This book reveals who they were, why they chose Palestine and how they sold their cause to the left.


‘Of course there are antisemitic ideas around in Britain and it would be nonsense to assume that the left was immune. But Rich is on a mission to show antisemitism as widespread, systematic, hegemonic on the left. As Rich is aware, there isn’t much Jew-hatred of a traditional kind around on the left. There is, rather, he believes, a different kind of antisemitism, expressed as an anti-Zionism (…) If Rich’s book encourages us to be more precise in our language, to temper how we express our emotional outrage at the things Israel does with impunity, to be more strategic in how we build support for Palestinian rights, it may (inadvertently!) achieve something useful. But in its own terms, it must be treated as a polemical intervention rather than a serious analytical contribution to our understanding of antisemitism (or the left) today’ – JJP signatory Richard Kuper


Michael Sandford (ed.). The Bible, Zionism, & Palestine: The Bible’s Role in Conflict and Liberation in Israel-Palestine (Relegere Academic Press, 2016; free to read here)

Publisher’s description: Contributors evaluate the divisive and liberatory influences and effects of the Bible on Zionism and Palestine-Israel and, conversely, the practice of biblical interpretation in a Post-Nakba world.

Reviews: none yet available


Keren Sharvit and Eran Halperin (eds.). A Social Psychology Perspective on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Springer, 2016)

Publisher’s description: This volume explores the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a social psychology perspective. At the core of the book is a theory of intractable conflicts, as developed by Daniel Bar-Tal of Tel Aviv University, applied to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Opening with an introduction to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict situation and a few chapters on the theoretical backgrounds of the creation of a societal ethos of conflict, the volume then moves to an analysis of the psycho-social underpinnings of the conflict, while concluding with a discussion of the possibility of long-standing peace in the region. Among the topics included in the coverage are: Identity formation during conflict; The Israeli and Palestinian ethos of conflict; The important role of Palestinian and Israeli education; An analysis of the leadership in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

Reviews: none yet available


Dov Waxman. Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel (Princeton University Press, 2016)

Publisher’s description: Trouble in the Tribe explores the increasingly contentious place of Israel in the American Jewish community. In a fundamental shift, growing numbers of American Jews have become less willing to unquestioningly support Israel and more willing to publicly criticize its government. More than ever before, American Jews are arguing about Israeli policies, and many, especially younger ones, are becoming uncomfortable with Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Dov Waxman argues that Israel is fast becoming a source of disunity for American Jewry, and that a new era of American Jewish conflict over Israel is replacing the old era of solidarity. Drawing on a wealth of in-depth interviews with American Jewish leaders and activists, Waxman shows why Israel has become such a divisive issue among American Jews. (…) Waxman sets this conflict in the context of broader cultural, political, institutional, and demographic changes happening in the American Jewish community.


‘a fair and thorough account of a growing schism between American Jews who refuse to remain silent about Israeli policies they find objectionable and the well-known Israel Lobby (…) Trouble in the Tribe is a valuable road map to an ongoing and very important conflict’ – History News Network


a name=”Williamson”>Bill Williamson. Place is the Passion: Reframing the Israel/Palestine Conflict (Comerford & Miller, 2016)

Publisher’s description: Israel relies for its survival on its lucrative arms trade and American military support. Meanwhile, the Palestinians suffer poverty and destitution as an occupied nation. Indeed, were it not for vast international financial support, the Palestinians would face starvation. Any solution is impossible while Israel pursues an aggressive programme of settlement, expansion and ethnic cleansing. The author rejects the two state solution, which he likens to Apartheid. In a convincing fact-based analysis, he shows that a better future is achievable for both peoples: one that is secular, democratic, bi-national, culturally vibrant and economically successful.


‘Williamson eschews a straight historical narrative, choosing instead to focus on different aspects of the conflict in nine short chapters with titles like Breaking the Power of the Past and Re-imagining the Future. This fragments the history and entails a certain amount of repetition and overlap but, by the end, the perplexed reader will certainly have clearer understanding of how the Israeli state came into being and how the conflict has reached its current impasse: on one side an expansionist, militarised state with a right wing government dominated by a religious settler bloc and with a Palestinian minority discriminated against and viewed as a demographic threat; on the other side an oppressed, occupied, besieged Palestinian people with its leadership split between, in the West Bank, a secular Palestinian Authority that no longer has any credibility and, in Gaza, an Islamist, socially conservative movement, Hamas (…) This is a useful book, well worth reading. If you are perplexed – or even if you are not – it will make you better informed and better able to argue the case for justice and human rights’ – Red Pepper


Ofra Yeshua-Lyth. Politically Incorrect: Why a Jewish State is a Bad Idea (Skyscraper Books, 2016)

Publisher’s description: Israel claims to be a modern democratic state, but Israeli writer Ofra Yeshua-Lyth reveals some startling truths about modern day Israel: how although 70% of Israelis do not follow the Jewish religion, all citizens are all subject to laws designed to favour religious Israelis over all others. In matters of birth and death; marriage and divorce; finance and the military, Israel’s rabbis exercise iron control over governments, however secular they claim to be. Yeshua-Lyth sees the seeds of Israel’s demise in the growing tension between Israelis who want to lead modern secular lives, and those who wish Israel to continue in the iron grip of the rabbis. The arguments are woven through the story of the author’s childhood and later life in Israel, and illustrated with personal experiences.


‘There are many echoes in this book of Arundhati Roy’s writings on India in Listening to Grasshoppers; not only in the intelligent, shocking, convincing and gripping writing but with its parallel themes of discriminating laws that institutionalise prejudice; a middle class content not to see what is happening; and an impoverished mass dispossessed of their land’ – Tribune Magazine

‘[Lyth] uses personal memoirs from her Yemeni Jewish family background to support her opinion that Israel is far from the ‘Jewish democratic state’ that it likes to portray (…) There is a touching section on the failed attempts by the writer’s family to get her grandmother a secular funeral (…) [A] powerful collection of arguments and anecdotes as to why criticism of Israel is far from antisemitism’ – Socialist Review


Max Blumenthal. The 51 Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza (Nation Books, 2015)

Publisher’s description: On July 8, 2014, Israel launched air strikes on Hamas-controlled Gaza, followed by a ground invasion. The ensuing fifty-one days of war left more than 2,200 people dead, the vast majority of whom were Palestinian civilians, including over 500 children. During the assault, at least 10,000 homes were destroyed and, according to the United Nations, nearly 300,000 Palestinians were displaced. Max Blumenthal was in Gaza and throughout Israel–Palestine during what he argues was an entirely avoidable catastrophe. In this explosive work of intimate reportage, Blumenthal reveals the harrowing conditions and cynical deceptions that led to the ruinous war – and tells the human stories. Blumenthal brings the battles in Gaza to life, detailing the ferocious clashes that took place when Israel’s military invaded the besieged strip. He radically shifts the discussion around a number of highly contentious issues: the use of civilians as human shields by Israeli forces, the arbitrary targeting of Palestinian civilians, and the radicalization of Israeli public officials and top military personnel. Amid the rubble of Gaza’s border regions, Blumenthal recorded the testimonies from scores of residents, documenting potential war crimes committed by the Israeli armed forces while carefully examining the military doctrine that led to them.


‘[O]ne of the best and most thorough accounts yet of the prelude to the war, which is essential to understanding why Israel attacked Gaza. Since the corporate media suffer from repressed memory, it’s useful to have a chronology that doesn’t omit the key developments leading to the slaughter (…) Blumenthal was able to enter Gaza during the fighting, we have one of the few accounts of the popular resistance that united the military wings of Hamas, Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Islamic Jihad as Israel pressed its land invasion (…) This work is reminiscent in many ways of John Hersey’s Hiroshima. Hersey was the first US journalist to walk through the ashes of that Japanese city in the wake of the atomic bomb and interview its survivors. The 51-Day War is the first account by a US journalist of an assault that dropped almost the same tonnage of explosives on Gaza as that on Hiroshima. Read what the survivors have to say’ – Electronic Intifada 


Michael Buergermeister. Gaza: A Philosophical Dictionary (ePubli, 2015)

Publisher’s description: This book is not about how evil either the Americans or Israelis are, which is how some might see it. This book is about both the causes and effects of Israeli and American policy. It is about the ideas, which underpin these policies and about the effects of these self-same policies on ordinary individuals. It is above all about how the narratives of Jews, Zionists and Palestinians are inextricably intertwined. It is a book about common humanity.

Reviews: none yet available


Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé. On Palestine (Penguin, 2015)

Publisher’s description: What is the future of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement directed at Israel? Which is more viable, the binational or one state solution? Ilan Pappé and Noam Chomsky, two leading voices in the struggle to liberate Palestine, discuss these critical questions and more in this urgent and timely book, a sequel to their acclaimed Gaza in Crisis.


‘The first part of the book consists of dialogues between Chomsky and Pappe on Palestine’s past, present and future. Editor and human rights activist Frank Barat guides these conversations. He also separately interviews Pappe on the current political situation inside his native Israel and Chomsky on the current role of the United States in the so-called peace negotiations (…) Chomsky and Pappe agree on many of these issues. The dialogues show both men acknowledging that Israel is a settler-colonial society (…) Chomsky believes that a two-state solution is the only realistic one given that there is an international consensus behind it. The US government, he argues, could be compelled to cease providing support for Israel’s violations of international law. Facing that prospect, Israel might recognize its total international isolation and negotiate a two-state solution based on the international consensus. Pappe, on the other hand, argues that the two-state solution is no solution at all because it doesn’t address the problem: Zionism as a colonialist movement and Israel as a “racist, apartheid state”. The solution starts, he writes, “within a framework where all [including Palestinian refugees] enjoy full rights, equality and partnership”’ – Electronic Intifada 


Marwan Darweish and Andrew Rigby. Popular Protest in Palestine: The Uncertain Future of Unarmed Resistance (Pluto Press, 2015)

Publisher’s description: Popular Protest in Palestine provides an overview and analysis of the role and significance of unarmed civil (popular) resistance in the Palestinian national movement. The main focus is on the contemporary popular resistance movement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), but it is prefaced by a historical review of the thread of unarmed civil resistance that has run throughout the history of the Palestinian liberation struggle. It informs a contemporary readership about this under-emphasised dimension of the Palestinian struggle, arguing that at the present juncture the popular resistance movement, especially in the West Bank, is the most significant form of struggle against the ongoing occupation. Popular Protest in Palestine also addresses the international dimensions of the Palestinian struggle, focusing in particular on the BDS campaign, the role of international solidarity activists in the OPT and beyond, and the changing forms of engagement developed by international agencies seeking to work on the roots of the conflict whilst fulfilling their humanitarian aid mandates.


‘This analysis of Palestinian popular – civil – resistance to the creation and expansion of Israel and its nearly 50-year occupation of Palestinian territory, is essential reading for anyone wishing to gain a deeper understanding of the dynamics of civil resistance in an occupied country, and the factors making for its success or failure’ – Peace News

‘In what may be the most insightful, comprehensive, and sensitive academic study of today’s Palestinian popular resistance, Marwan Darweish and Andrew Rigby’s new book (…) provides an excellent analysis of Palestinian unarmed resistance to the Israeli occupation, and the reasons why it has not developed into a popular, mass movement. Woven into their overview is an analysis of Palestinian unarmed resistance in a different role — one that opens the possibility of identifying new and more effective strategies, and thereby a potential for hope’ – +972 Magazine


Ru Freeman (ed.). Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine (OR Books, 2015)

Publisher’s description: Extraordinary Rendition brings together the work of sixty-five prominent writers to examine America’s culpability in the denial of human rights and dignity to Palestinians in Israel/Palestine and beyond. The anthology includes pieces by writers such as Chana Bloch, Jane Hirshfield, Colum McCann, Roger Reeves, George Saunders and Alice Walker. In writing that is always clear, and often startlingly beautiful, they cover a range of issues including the erasure and reconstruction of histories, the examination of identity, the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of speaking out as artists, the conditions of occupation, and the potential for activism. They also explore the way U.S. foreign policy towards Palestine regularly mirrors the harsh realities faced by many of America’s own minorities.


‘Reading the book, it seems that its intended audience are those who are generally progressive yet excuse their way out of taking a stand on Palestine. It also might be a beneficial read for those who feel gagged for a variety of reasons — ranging from a refusal to see beyond the magnitude of European crimes against the Jewish people, to an unwillingness to upset those around them or damage their own positions against the powers that be (“fear of a backlash from an unnamed and unseen ‘them,’” as the book’s editor, Ru Freeman, puts it) (…) This volume is a celebration of those who continue to object, mobilize and creatively inform and is an encouragement to those too nervous to speak out’ – Electronic Intifada


Alon Gratch. The Israeli Mind: How the Israeli Character Shapes Our World (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Publisher’s description: Israelis are bold and visionary, passionate and generous. But they can also be grandiose and self-absorbed. Emerging from the depths of Jewish history and the drama of the Zionist rebellion against it, they have a deeply conflicted identity. They are willing to sacrifice themselves for the collective, but also to sacrifice that very collective for a higher, and likely unattainable, ideal. Resolving these internal conflicts and coming to terms with the trauma of the Holocaust are imperative to Israel’s survival as a nation and to the stability of the world. Alon Gratch, a clinical psychologist whose family has lived in Israel for generations, is uniquely positioned to confront these issues. (…) Drawing on a broad cultural and historical canvas, and weaving in the author’s personal and professional experience, The Israeli Mind presents a provocative, first-hand portrait of the Israeli national character.


‘Alon Gratch shares a com­pelling and dis­turb­ing por­tray­al of the Israeli nation­al char­ac­ter with his read­ers. The insight is worth­while, the analy­sis is sharp and the anec­dotes are touch­ing, fun­ny and at times dis­turb­ing – this is, after all, a psy­cho­analy­sis of Israel and Israelis. Psy­cho­an­a­lyz­ing an entire peo­ple, a whole nation –  espe­cial­ly a nation like Israel – is very dif­fi­cult and yet, he makes it seem effort­less. The peo­ple Gratch writes about are plagued by the mem­o­ry of the Holo­caust; they pos­sess an arro­gance and a know-it-all-ness that is unpar­al­leled; they are both suc­cess­ful and guilty over their successes (…) any books have been writ­ten about Israeli soci­ety, but sel­dom are they so easy and fun to read while at the same time forc­ing the read­er to sit up and ask some seri­ous questions’ – Jewish Book Council


Jeff Halper. War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians, and Global Pacification (Pluto Press, 2015)

Publisher’s description: War Against the People is a disturbing insight into the new ways world powers such as the US, Israel, Britain and China forge war today. It is a subliminal war of surveillance and whitewashed terror, conducted through new, high-tech military apparatuses, designed and first used in Israel against the Palestinian population. Including hidden camera systems, sophisticated sensors, information databases on civilian activity, automated targeting systems and, in some cases, unmanned drones, it is used to control the very people the nation’s leaders profess to serve. Drawing from years of research, as well as investigations and interviews conducted at international arms fairs, Jeff Halper reveals that this practice is much more insidious than was previously thought.


‘a devastatingly effective antidote to the silly ‘Israeli tail wags American dog’ (Itwad) theories, according to which the US slavishly supports and protects Israel, although this damages true American ‘national interests’. Such theories have been put forward not only by bourgeois political ‘scientists’, but very regrettably also by some would-be leftists. This apparently masochistic US behaviour is explained by the influence of the Jewish and fundamentalist Christian pro-Israel lobby, or – more crudely – by the influence of Jewish plutocrats. This explanation, of course, begs the question as to why the really dominant section of the US ruling class does little to counteract the influence of the said lobby’ – Weekly Worker 


Adi Kuntsman and Rebecca Stein. Digital Militarism: Israel’s Occupation in the Social Media Age (Stanford University Press, 2015)

Publisher’s description: Israel’s occupation has been transformed in the social media age. Over the last decade, military rule in the Palestinian territories grew more bloody and entrenched. In the same period, Israelis became some of the world’s most active social media users. In Israel today, violent politics are interwoven with global networking practices, protocols, and aesthetics. Israeli soldiers carry smartphones into the field of military operations, sharing mobile uploads in real-time. Official Israeli military spokesmen announce wars on Twitter. And civilians encounter state violence first on their newsfeeds and mobile screens. Across the globe, the ordinary tools of social networking have become indispensable instruments of warfare and violent conflict. This book traces the rise of Israeli digital militarism in this global context – both the reach of social media into Israeli military theatres and the occupation’s impact on everyday Israeli social media culture.


‘In a historical moment where Israeli racism has never been more visible or more claimed, Kuntsman and Stein offer an important intervention. Politicians and citizens, abandoning earlier claims that the IDF is an uncommonly moral army, are calling for greater violence, harsher measures. Digital Militarism turns the scrutinizing gaze toward the Israeli, building a viral archive of quotidian participation in state violence (…) Anti-occupation activists from Palestine, Israel, and the international community urgently capture human rights abuses on camera, daily acting as witnesses, calling for action based on ethical seeing. At the same time, the dominant visual regime of occupation goes ever more viral, rooting itself deeper into the visual order with every like and share. Under the logic of selfie militarism, the soldier who shoots and cries becomes the soldier who shoots and posts. The perpetrator is caught in the act, turns to the camera, and smiles’ – New Inquiry 


Padraig O’Malley. The Two-State Delusion. Israel-Palestine—A Tale of Two Narratives (Viking Press, 2015)

Publisher’s description: Disputes over settlements, the right of return, the rise of Hamas, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and other intractable issues have repeatedly derailed peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine. Now, in a book that is sure to spark controversy, renowned peacemaker Padraig O’Malley argues that the moment for a two-state solution has passed. After examining each issue and speaking with Palestinians and Israelis as well as negotiators directly involved in past summits, O’Malley concludes that even if such an agreement could be reached, it would be nearly impossible to implement given the staggering costs, Palestine’s political disunity and the viability of its economy, rapidly changing demographics, Israel’s continuing political shift to the right, global warming’s effect on the water supply, and more. In this revelatory, hard-hitting book, O’Malley approaches the key issues pragmatically, without ideological bias, to show that we must find new frameworks for reconciliation if there is to be lasting peace between Palestine and Israel.


‘an impressive and frustrating book. It’s impressive because O’Malley (…) has done a tremendous amount of research about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (…) What makes O’Malley’s book frustrating, however, is not his critique of the so-called two-state delusion. It’s his refusal to offer an alternative – New York Times


Mohammed Omer. Shell-Shocked: On the Ground Under Israel’s Gaza Assault (OR Books, 2015)

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.


‘a vivid series of despatches from what in other conflicts would be called the front line. In the open-air prison of Gaza, though, everywhere is the front line. Or as he puts it, “everyone is running everywhere and nowhere, because there is nowhere to hide” (…) Following ambulance drivers, farmers and refugees, his tales are liberally spattered with body parts and scenes of hopeless vulnerability, like the fathers who send family members into different rooms in the hope that some at least may survive a missile strike. It’s a catalogue of horror. But with little sense of perspective beyond that of the victims, it can become repetitive – a fault accentuated by the format. These are news agency-style features, punctuated by formulaic explanations and regular updates on the toll of dead and wounded. Invaluable when filed as individual reports, but less illuminating en masse’ – Independent


Ilan Pappé (ed.). Israel and South Africa: The Many Faces of Apartheid (Zed Books, 2015)

Publisher’s description: In Israel and South Africa, Ilan Pappé, one of Israel’s preeminent academics and a noted critic of the current government, brings together lawyers, journalists, policy makers, and historians of both countries to assess the implications of the apartheid analogy for international law, activism and policy making.


‘Ilan Pappé, one of Israel’s “New Historians” and Professor of History at the University of Exeter, brings together political scientists, policymakers, journalists, lawyers and sociologists to compile a variety of substantive comparisons between the two situations. Within this comparative framework, the issues addressed include topics such as the historical roots of both regimes and the practice of indigenous femicide and its significance for apartheid racial elites, as well as the nature and organisation of protest groups in both segregation contexts. The book makes a compelling contribution to a topic that, while having been the focus of considerable media and activist attention, has rarely been examined as an academic issue’ – LSE Review of Books


Raja Shehadeh. Language of War, Language of Peace: Palestine, Israel and the Search for Justice (Profile Books, 2015)

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.


‘In person, as in the print of lyrical, visionary and quietly impassioned books such as Palestinian Walks and Occupation Diaries, Shehadeh – the scholarly jurist, rational and unflappable – projects an almost eerie calm. This gathering of recent lectures is perhaps his bleakest book. Nonetheless, he manages to reiterate his plea for peace with justice among Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, “in this beautiful but tortured land which we share”. Here, the prose has an urgent topicality that sometimes lacks the grace and charm of his more subjective works. Yet still he embodies, and celebrates, the virtues of the Arabic word sumoud: steadfastness; perseverance’ – Independent 


Jon Soske and Sean Jacobs (eds.). Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy (Haymarket Books, 2015)

Publisher’s description: In Apartheid Israel: The Politics of an Analogy, twenty scholars of Africa and its diaspora reflect on the similarities and differences between apartheid-era South Africa and contemporary Israel, with an eye to strengthening and broadening today’s movement for justice in Palestine.


‘A backbone of many of the contributions is their discussion of Palestine/Israel as a case, like South Africa and other contexts, of settler colonialism, mirroring a recent shift in scholarship about the region that has allowed research as well as activism to place this particular history within a broader global context. Within that framework, the most instructive chapters are those that interrogate with historical nuance comparisons of apartheid era South Africa and antiapartheid struggles with contemporary Israel/Palestine (…) The use of the term “apartheid” and the force it now carries with it has its place in such thinking and acting, these authors concur, but if activists and scholars fail to go beyond the moral satisfaction of deploying it in superficial and unreflective ways, the analogy becomes an ethically and politically suspect technique through which critique is dulled and action is self-serving (…) Curiously, given these critical interventions, this failure is precisely what some of the collection’s other chapters exemplify. Taking the apartheid analogy for granted, and focussing instead on the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) call as an appropriate response, these chapters are less useful in opening up new lines of thought and possible strategies toward social and political change, and more oriented toward an absolution from the sins of apartheid and settler colonialism’ – Safundi


Helga Tawil-Souri and Dina Matar (eds.). Gaza as Metaphor (Hurst, 2015)

Publisher’s description: Open-air Prison, Terror, Resistance, Occupation, Siege, Trauma: irrespective of when, where, and to whom the word is uttered, ‘Gaza’ immediately evokes an abundance of metaphors. Similarly, a host of metaphors also recall Gaza: Crisis, Exception, Refugees, Destitution, Tunnels, Persistence. This book brings together journalists, writers, doctors, academics and others, who use metaphor to record and historicise Gaza, to contextualise its everyday realities, interrogate its representations and provide an understanding of its real and symbolic significance. (…) The contributors reveal the manner of Gaza’s historical and spatial creation, to show that Gaza is more than simply a metaphor for far-away humanitarian disaster, or a location of incomprehensible violence  –  it is above all an inseparable part of Palestine’s past, present, and future, and of the condition of dispossession.


‘In their joint introduction, Helga Tawil-Souri and Dina Matar explain their purpose: “We use Gaza as metaphor to ask how the place, its people, its culture and its historical processes can help us understand the contemporary condition of Palestinians, in particular, and the condition of dispossession, in general”. They have therefore designed the book in four roughly equal parts, like the movements of a symphony: “Living Gaza”, “Placing Gaza”, “Narrating Gaza”, and “Thinking Gaza”. No less than nineteen contributors, in addition to the two editors, have been mobilized for this endeavour, including several names familiar in Palestine studies. This means, of course, that each contribution is relatively short—a dozen pages on average—making the book all the more readable as most pieces are written in lively style. They cover a wide spectrum of genres, from mood chronicles to theoretical reflections (…) Gaza as Metaphor is an exemplary collection: comprehensive despite its relatively small size, greatly readable, very stimulating, and most satisfying intellectually and aesthetically: a landmark in Gaza studies and an important addition to Palestine studies’ – Journal of Palestine Studies


Eyal Weizman and Fazal Sheikh. The Conflict Shoreline: Colonization as Climate Change in the Negev Desert (Steidl, 2015)

Publisher’s description: The village of al-‘Araqib has been destroyed and rebuilt more than seventy times in the ongoing “battle over the Negev,” an Israeli state campaign to uproot the Palestinian Bedouins from the northern threshold of the desert. Unlike other frontiers fought over during the Israel-Palestine conflict, this one is not demarcated by fences and walls but by shifting climatic conditions. The threshold of the desert advances and recedes in response to colonization, cultivation, displacement, urbanization, and, most recently, climate change. In his response to Sheikh’s “Desert Bloom” series (part of Sheikh’s The Erasure Trilogy, published by Steidl), Eyal Weizman’s essay incorporates historical aerial photographs, contemporary remote sensing data, state plans, court testimonies, and nineteenth-century travellers’ accounts, exploring the Negev’s threshold as a “shoreline” along which climate change and political conflict are deeply and dangerously entangled.


‘When we consider the book’s title, the shoreline evoked here is not a maritime one but rather the shifting line of aridity that separates the Negev from the rest of Israel-Palestine. Sheikh’s photographs of the numerous trees planted in the desert show the extent of Israeli efforts to engineer its shift to the South, thus actualising the biblical injunction “Make the Desert Bloom!” This attempt to engineer climate by the State of Israel is not new: since 1948, helped by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), it has planted thousands of hectares of forests in a strategy to make the Near East climate “more European”, as well as to dissimulate the Palestinian villages evicted and destroyed during the Nakba. In the case of the Negev, the forests are used directly as a means of coercion against the Bedouin villages, a strategy brilliantly exposed by Weizman and Sheikh in the book’ – Uncube 


Matthew Abraham. Out of Bounds: Academic Freedom and the Question of Palestine (Bloomsbury, 2014)

Publisher’s description: Academic freedom is a key element of the academic enterprise in the U.S. However, it does not seem to exist when scholars seek to advocate on behalf of Palestinian self-determination. This unique work examines how the knowledge-power nexus is shaping the discourse around the Israel-Palestine conflict and restricting academic freedom. Beginning with a discussion of American Zionism, the work proceeds to explain why scholars working on the question of Palestine are often denied standard academic freedom. This is supported by prominent cases, such as Norman G. Finkelstein’s denial of tenure, the Middle East Studies Department at Columbia University, and Mearsheimer and Walt’s book, The Israel Lobby. The work of Edward Said and Noam Chomsky are also discussed and the book concludes with recommendations for protecting intellectual freedom to those seeking to critically pursue the question of Palestine.


’Out of Bounds establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that “certain types of scholarship and political orientations toward the Israel-Palestine conflict are placed ‘out of bounds’ with respect to academic freedom protections” and placed “out of bounds” of polite academic debate (…) an eye-opening examination of the threat posed to academic freedom by the taboo on critical discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict’ – American Association of University Professors


Ali Abunimah. The Battle for Justice in Palestine (Haymarket Books, 2014)

Publisher’s description: Efforts to achieve a “two-state solution” have finally collapsed, and the struggle for justice in Palestine is at a crossroads. As Israeli society lurches toward greater extremism, many ask where the struggle is headed. This book offers a clear analysis of this crossroads moment and looks forward with urgency down the path to a more hopeful future.


‘Beginning with the premise that “The historic land of Palestine belongs to all who live in it and to those who were expelled or exiled from it since 1948, regardless of religion, ethnicity, national origin or current citizenship status,” Abunimah strips away Israel’s justifications for its occupation and makes a vital contribution to real justice in Palestine’ – Counterpunch


Yaacov Bar Siman Tov. Justice and Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (Routledge, 2014)

Publisher’s description: In this book, the late Prof. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov argues that the failure of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process so far has been mainly the result of the inability of both sides to reach an agreed formula for linking justice to peace. The issues of justice and injustice are focused mainly on the outcomes of the 1947-1949 first Arab-Israeli War and specifically in the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem. The conflicting historical narratives of the two sides regarding the question of responsibility for the injustice done to the Palestinians turn the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into a classic case of linking the issues of justice and peace. Yaacov Bar-Siman-Tov maintains that the narratives of justice and injustice in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have proved to be formidable barriers to peace. Hence, he recommends that justice should be compromised for the sake of peace. The link between justice and peace is an important issue requiring both sides’ attention, but, given the wide and currently unbridgeable gap separating the two sides, it should be postponed to the phase of reconciliation rather than being included in the process of conflict resolution. The two-state solution is endorsed as the best and practical solution and as a first step for a “just peace” in this conflict, to be followed by reconciliation.

Reviews: none yet available


Khaled Diab. Intimate Enemies: Living with Israelis and Palestinians in the Holy Land (Guardian Books, 2014)

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.


‘[Diab’s] writing is engaging, informative and often funny, and he introduces the reader to an impressively wide and varied cast of Israeli and Palestinian characters. Despite the brevity of the book, he manages to touch on numerous issues relating to the conflict’ – Qantara


Caroline Glick. The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East (Crown Forum, 2014)

Publisher’s description: In The Israeli Solution, Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor to the Jerusalem Post, examines the history and misconceptions behind the two-state policy (…) After a century spent chasing a two-state policy that hasn’t brought the Israelis and Palestinians any closer to peace, The Israeli Solution offers an alternative path to stability in the Middle East based on Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.


‘Glick’s proposal is intriguing. Here is a fervent Zionist calling on Israel to permanently incorporate the Palestinian-majority West Bank into its territory in order for the Jewish state to have both defensible borders and no hostile forces on the other side. Yet she also urges Israel to offer citizenship to West Bank Palestinians, which is anathema to most Israelis across the political spectrum (…) Yet The Israeli Solution is fraught with problems. To begin with, more than one third of the book consists of malicious, defamatory attacks on the Palestinians (…) The Israeli Solution also provides a mendacious reading of history (…) Yet the most serious flaw here is what Glick doesn’t do: pay sufficient attention – let alone attribute importance – to what Palestinians themselves think of becoming part of Israel’ – The National


Ibrahim Hewitt (ed.). Israel and Gaza: Behind the Media Veil (MEMO Publishers, 2014)

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


Keith Kahn-Harris. Uncivil Wars: The Israel Conflict in the Jewish Community (David Paul, 2014)

Publisher’s description: The author explores the causes of the conflicts and describes his own innovative efforts at conflict resolution. Analysing the various groupings – left, right, secular and religious, pro and anti-Zionist – in Britain and the USA, Keith Kahn-Harris looks at the history of civility in society and examines the different methods used by international organisations and groups involved in developing dialogue within Jewish communities. He describes, how using these techniques and with expert help, he brought together more than seventy prominent diverse British Jews for a series of encounters. He concludes that dialogue and civility is possible. But with no change in behaviour there will be serious consequences for the Jewish communities of the world.


‘Before reading this book, I tended to lump all Israel government supporters together and so have learnt a lot from the distinctions drawn between the various groups on the right, in particular between the Public Supporters and the Pro-Israel Pluralists. This bears out Kahn-Harris’s contention that all sides need to learn more about the complexities and nuances of each other’s positions. He makes an interesting point in writing that the Public Supporters cannot be necessarily labelled as right wing, in that their position is to support whatever the current Israeli government does – so, if an Israeli government were ever to negotiate a genuine peace, the Public Supporters would support it. Interestingly too, Kahn-Harris points out that the fiercest and most bitter debates are between those closest to each other in position, such as the Public Supporters versus the Pro-Israel Pluralists and the self-described Decent Left (exemplified by the Engage group) versus the Jewish Radicals and Anti Zionist Left (…) But I have a number of problems with the book. For a start, nowhere does Kahn-Harris point out that this identification of the whole community with support for Israeli government policies is fuelling the current rise in antisemitism in Britain – on the contrary, he associates opposition to antisemitism primarily with the right wing of the community. Also, throughout the book he describes supporters of Israeli government policies as “supporters of Israel”, the implication being that those who oppose these policies are opponents of Israel. He never deals explicitly with the position held by many “Radical Jews” – and indeed by many in the Palestinian solidarity movement – that Israeli government policies are self-destructive as well as destructive, and that Israel needs to be saved from itself’ – JJP signatory Deborah H. Maccoby


Mark LeVine and Mathias Mossberg (eds.). One Land: Israel and Palestine as Two Parallel States (University of California Press, 2014)

Publisher’s description: One Land, Two States imagines a new vision for Israel and Palestine in a situation where the peace process has failed to deliver an end of conflict. “If the land cannot be shared by geographical division, and if a one-state solution remains unacceptable,” the book asks, “can the land be shared in some other way?” Leading Palestinian and Israeli experts along with international diplomats and scholars answer this timely question by examining a scenario with two parallel state structures, both covering the whole territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, allowing for shared rather than competing claims of sovereignty. Such a political architecture would radically transform the nature and stakes of the Israel-Palestine conflict, open up for Israelis to remain in the West Bank and maintain their security position, enable Palestinians to settle in all of historic Palestine, and transform Jerusalem into a capital for both of full equality and independence – all without disturbing the demographic balance of each state. Exploring themes of security, resistance, diaspora, globalism, and religion, as well as forms of political and economic power that are not dependent on claims of exclusive territorial sovereignty, this pioneering book offers new ideas for the resolution of conflicts worldwide.


‘Historian Mark LeVine and diplomat Mathias Mossberg bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to join the growing chorus of experts who are convinced that a conventional two-state solution is no longer possible and those who accept opposition to a one-state solution. This book proposes an alternative that should fundamentally change the dynamics of what currently appears as an intractable conflict. If this conflict has primarily been a struggle over territory, the idea of parallel states removes that issue entirely, thereby theoretically removing the fire that fuels the conflict (…) This book raises more questions than it answers, but that is precisely its point. The authors intended to provoke renewed thought and conversation’ – Political and Legal Anthropology Review


Shourideh Molavi. Stateless Citizenship: The Palestinian-Arab Citizens of Israel (Haymarket Books, 2014)

Publisher’s description: In this provocative and compelling work Shourideh Molavi documents the legal plight of Palestinians living inside of Israel. Palestinians living inside of Israel are placed in a paradoxical situation where, as Arab citizens of a Jewish state, they are both inside and outside, host and guest, citizen and stateless. Through the paradigm of stateless citizenship Molavi centres our analytical gaze on the paradox that it is through their status as Israeli citizens that Palestinians are deemed stateless.


‘an extensively referenced piece of research that boasts a heavy social-scientist perspective on the nature of the citizenship given by Israel to its Arab population inside the “green line” (…) Its chapters are often heavy on theory, although the monograph’s objectives and arguments strive to reach a wider audience within history, anthropology, and even post-colonial studies (…) What is missing here, however, are practical and on- the-ground examples of these dynamics to give the theory-heavy final chapters that much more depth’ – Journal of Palestine Studies


Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm (eds.). The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel (Wayne State University Press, 2014)

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 analysing 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.


‘Opponents of the academic boycott have put together a remarkable, sprawling volume (…) with some 25 essays over 550 pages, that cover the issue from almost every conceivable angle. Anyone remotely interested in the issue should read it (…) I am less worried than some of the writers in The Case Against an Academic Boycott of Israel the recrudescence of a new anti-Semitism. For me, the tragedy of the current situation is that most supporters of an academic BDS, are not by any reasonable standard, haters of Jews. The BDS movement is growing, in large part, because of the increasing despair that so many share, that a peaceful, negotiated solution to the Israel-Palestine problem has become impossible’ – Jewish Pluralist


Marcelo Svirsky. After Israel: Towards Cultural Transformation (Zed Books, 2014)

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


Mandy Turner and Omar Shweiki (eds.). Decolonising Palestinian Political Economy: De-Development and Beyond (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

Publisher’s description: This volume provides cutting-edge political economy analyses of the Palestinian people as a whole – those living in the occupied territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (including annexed East Jerusalem), those living within Israel and refugees in neighbouring Arab states. It rejects the dominant, conventional approach that has fragmented the Palestinians into separate and distinct groups (some thereafter named as ‘Arab-Israeli’, ‘Bedouin’, etc.), and which has reduced those regarded as ‘the Palestinian people’ to only those who reside within the occupied territory. The book challenges this intellectual fragmentation by reuniting Palestinians in one historical political-economy narrative of a people experiencing a common process of dispossession, disenfranchisement and disarticulation.


‘The forceful reminder they put forward is that the habit into which many (most?) of us so easily slip in talking about Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank, the diaspora or present-day Israel as separate entities is one which naturalizes colonial divisions. These profoundly unhistorical and culturally anomalous separations only exist because they have been imposed militarily and politically by Israel. Invoking the Harvard scholar Sara Roy’s concept of “de-development” and other ideas about how the Palestinian economy and polity have been deliberately eroded by Israel and its international allies, Turner and Shweiki have assembled a volume of research into the impacts of these processes on Palestinians in all four of these division (…) This is, of course, an academic book on political economy, so it was never going to be the lightest of reads. But, as an edited volume, it does contain a range of voices and more concise expression than a standard monograph might; this also means that it covers a wide range of issues, making it a useful overview for those wanting to understand different aspects of the political economy of Palestine’ – Electronic Intifada 


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