This page contains details of books previously listed on the Recently Published Books page. Books are listed in alphabetical order of the author. All the books were published in 2014 or later; earlier books previously listed on this page can be found here.
Nahla Abdo: From captive revolution to grand Gaza prison (2014)
Ramzy Baroud: The last earth: A Palestinian story (2018)
Gershon Baskin: In pursuit of peace in Israel/Palestine (2017)
Nicholas Blincoe: Bethlehem: Biography of a town (2017)
Avraham Burg: In days to come: A new hope for Israel (2018)
Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman (Eds.): Kingdom of olives and ash (2017)
Jasmine Donahaye: Losing Israel (2015)
Ben Ehrenreich: The way to the spring: Life and death in Palestine (2016)
Cynthia Franklin et al. (Eds.): Life in Occupied Palestine: A special issue of Biography (2014)
Nahida Gordon: Palestine is our home: Voices of loss, courage and steadfastness (2016)
Norma Hashim (Ed.): Dreaming of freedom: Palestinian child prisoners speak (2016)
Ghada Karmi: Return: A Palestinian memoir (2015)
Sayed Kashua: Native: Dispatches from a Palestinian life (2016)
Hadar Lazar: Six singular figures: Jews & Arabs under the British Mandate (2106)
David Leach: Chasing Utopia: The future of the Kibbutz in a divided Israel (2016)
John Lyons: Balcony over Jerusalem: A Middle East memoir (2017)
Donald Macintyre: Gaza: Preparing for dawn (2017)
Cate Malek & Mateo Hoke (Eds.): Palestine speaks: Narratives of lives under Occupation (2015)
Mohammed Omer: Shell-shocked: On the ground under Israel’s Gaza assault (2015)
Lipika Pelham: The unlikely settler (2014)
Vijay Prashad (ed.): Letters to Palestine: Writers respond to war and occupation (2015)
Anthony Robinson & Annemarie Young: Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation (2017)
Lilian Rosengarten: Survival and conscience: From the shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish boat to Gaza (2015)
Alice Rothchild: Condition critical: Life and death in Palestine/Israel (2017)
Grant Rumley & Amir Tibon: The last Palestinian: The rise and reign of Mahmoud Abbas (2017)
Steve Sabella: The parachute paradox (2017)
Atef Abu Saif: Drone eats with me (2015)
Shlomo Sand: How I stopped being a Jew (2014)
Lotte Buch Segal: No place for grief: Martyrs, prisoners and mourning in contemporary Palestine (2016)
Raja Shehadeh: Where the line is drawn: Crossing boundaries in Occupied Palestine (2017)
Salman Abu Sitta: Mapping my return: A Palestinian memoir (2016)
Tom Sperlinger: Romeo and Juliet in Palestine: Teaching under Occupation (2015)
Yasir Suleiman (Ed.): Being Palestinian: Personal reflections of Palestinian identity in the Diaspora (2016)
S.Tamari & I.Nassar (Eds.): The storyteller of Jerusalem: The life & times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-48 (2014)
Sandy Tolan: Children of the stone: The power of music in a hard land (2015)
Erica Weiss: Conscientious objectors in Israel: Citizenship, sacrifice, trials of fealty (2014)
Nahla Abdo: From captive revolution to grand Gaza prison (Pluto Press, 2014, paperback, £17.50)
Publisher’s description: Women throughout the world have always played their part in struggles against colonialism, imperialism and other forms of oppression. However, there are few books on Arab political prisoners, fewer still on the Palestinians who have been detained in their thousands for their political activism and resistance. Nahla Abdo’s Captive Revolution seeks to break the silence on Palestinian women political detainees, providing a vital contribution to research on women, revolutions, national liberation and anti-colonial resistance. Based on stories of the women themselves, as well as her own experiences as a former political prisoner, Abdo draws on a wealth of oral history and primary research in order to analyse their anti-colonial struggle, their agency and the appalling treatment. Making crucial comparisons with the experiences of female political detainees in other conflicts, and emphasising the vital role Palestinian political culture and memorialisation of the ‘Nakba’ have had on their resilience and resistance, Captive Revolution is a rich and revealing addition to our knowledge of this little-studied phenomenon.
Ramzy Baroud: The last earth: A Palestinian story (Pluto, 2018, paperback, £14.99)
Publisher’s description: Stretching over decades, encompassing bombing campaigns, ceasefires and mass exoduses, The Last Earth tells the story of modern Palestine through the memories of those who have survived it.
Palestinian history has long faced obstacles, first from Orientalist readings of the Middle East, and then by attempts from Zionists to replace Palestinian historical narratives. The Last Earth challenges previous takes on Palestinian history, unearthing the commonalities within the Palestinian narrative, separated through political divisions, geographical barriers and walls, factionalism, military occupation, and exile. Through testimonies and accounts, we come to understand the complexities and contradictions of memory and the telling of history in the midst of conflict. As well as offering a history of the conflict and the region, The Last Earth also acts as a reclamation of history for the Palestinian people, allowing them to be active participants in shaping the present and the future.
Reviews: Palestine Chronicle
Middle East Monitor
Gershon Baskin: In pursuit of peace in Israel/Palestine (Vanderbilt University Press, 2017, £28.95)
Publisher’s description: Baskin’s memoir of 38 years of intensive pursuit of peace begins with a childhood on Long Island and a bar mitzvah trip to Israel with his family. Baskin joined Young Judaea back in the States, then later lived on a kibbutz in Israel, where he announced to his parents that he had decided to make aliya, emigrate to Israel. They persuaded him to return to study at NYU, after which he finally emigrated under the auspices of Interns for Peace. In Israel he spent a pivotal two years living with Arabs in the village of Kufr Qara. Despite the atmosphere of fear, Baskin found he could talk with both Jews and Palestinians, and that very few others were engaged in efforts at mutual understanding. At his initiative, the Ministry of Education (…) created the Institute for Education for Jewish-Arab Coexistence with Baskin himself as director. Eight years later he founded and co-directed the only joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think-and-do tank in the world, the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information. For decades he continued to cross borders, often with a kaffiyeh (Arab headdress) on his dashboard to protect his car in Palestinian neighborhoods. Airport passport control became Kafkaesque as Israeli agents routinely identified him as a security threat. During the many cycles of peace negotiations, Baskin has served both as an outside agitator for peace and as an advisor on the inside of secret talks (…). Baskin ends the book with his own proposal, which includes establishing a peace education program and cabinet-level Ministries of Peace in both countries, in order to foster a culture of peace.
Reviews: NY Journal of Books
Nicholas Blincoe: Bethlehem: Biography of a town (Little Brown, 2017, £20)
Publisher’s description: Bethlehem is so suffused with history and myth that it feels like an unreal city even to those who call it home. For many, Bethlehem remains the little town at the edge of the desert described in Biblical accounts. Today, the city is hemmed in by a wall and surrounded by forty-one Israeli settlements and hostile settlers and soldiers. Blincoe tells the town’s history through the visceral experience of living there, taking readers through its stone streets and desert wadis, its monasteries, aqueducts, and orchards to show the city from every angle and era. His portrait of Bethlehem sheds light on one of the world’s most intractable political problems, and he maintains that if the long thread winding back to the city’s ancient past is severed, the chances of an end to the Palestine-Israel conflict will be lost with it.
Avraham Burg: In days to come: A new hope for Israel (Nation Books, 2018, £22.99)
Publisher’s description: “The first childhood memory I have of my father is linked to the destruction of empires – the collapse of a world order that had once seemed eternal.” So begins Burg’s authoritative and deeply personal inquiry into the ambitions and failures of Israel and Judaism worldwide. Born in 1955, Burg witnessed firsthand many of the most dramatic and critical moments in Israeli history. Here, he chronicles the highs and lows of his country over the last five decades, threading his own journey into the story of his people. He explores the misplaced hopes of religious Zionism through the lens of his conservative upbringing, explains Israel’s obsession with military might while relating his own experiences as a paratrooper officer, and probes the country’s democratic aspirations, informed by his tenure in the Knesset. With bravery and candor, Burg lays bare the seismic intellectual shifts that drove the country’s political and religious journeys, offering a prophecy of fury and consolation and a vision for a new comprehensive paradigm for Judaism, Israel, and the Middle East.
Reviews: none yet available
Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman (Eds.): Kingdom of olives and ash (Harper Collins, 2017, paperback, £12.99)
Publisher’s description: June 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Israel occupation of the West Bank. The violence on both sides of the conflict has been horrific, the casualties catastrophic. Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, two of today’s most renowned novelists and essayists, have joined forces with the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, an organization comprised of former Israeli soldiers who served in the occupied territories and saw firsthand the injustice there, and a host of illustrious writers to tell the stories of the people on the ground in the contested territories. (…) Their writing enables readers to understand the human narratives behind the litany of grim destruction broadcasted nightly on the news. Together they all stand witness to the human cost of the occupation.
Reviews: Publishers Weekly
Times Literary Supplement
Jasmine Donahaye: Losing Israel (Seren, 2015, £12.99)
Publisher’s description: In 2007, in a chance conversation with her mother, a kibbutznik, Jasmine Donahaye stumbled upon the collusion of her family in the displacement of Palestinians in 1948. She set out to learn the story of what happened, and discovered an earlier and rarely discussed piece of history during the British Mandate in Palestine. Her discoveries challenged everything she thought she knew about the country and her family, and transformed her understanding of the place, and of herself. (…) Losing Israel is a moving and honest account which spans travel writing, nature writing and memoir. Losing Israel works on many levels – family relationships, the nature of patriotism and nationalism, cultural dislocation, the story of the Jewish diaspora and Israel, how history changes from one generation to the next, the histories of the dispossessed and the oppressed.
Reviews: New Welsh Review
Ben Ehrenreich: The way to the spring: Life and death in Palestine (Granta Books, 2016, paperback, £!4.99)
Publisher’s description: Over the past three years, American writer Ben Ehrenreich has been traveling to and living in the West Bank, staying with Palestinian families in its largest cities and its smallest villages. (…) We are familiar with brave journalists who travel to bleak or war-torn places on a mission to listen and understand, to gather the stories of people suffering from extremes of oppression and want (…). Palestine is, by any measure, whatever one’s politics, one such place. Ruled by the Israeli military, set upon and harassed constantly by Israeli settlers who admit unapologetically to wanting to drive them from the land, forced to negotiate an ever more elaborate and more suffocating series of fences, checkpoints, and barriers that have sundered home from field, home from home, this is a population whose living conditions are unique, and indeed hard to imagine. In a great act of bravery, empathy and understanding, Ehrenreich, by placing us in the footsteps of ordinary Palestinians and telling their story with surpassing literary power and grace, makes it impossible for us to turn away.
Reviews: Broken Rail
Cynthia Franklin et al. (Eds.): Life in Occupied Palestine: A special issue of Biography (University of Hawaii Press, 2014, $15 or downloadable from Project Muse – details here)
Publisher’s description: not available
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
This Week in Palestine
Nahida Gordon: Palestine is our home: Voices of loss, courage and steadfastness (Palestine Books, 2016, paperback, £14.95)
Publisher’s description: Palestine Is Our Home contains the memories of Palestinians who have suffered loss of home, community, and country at the hands of a people who themselves have suffered greatly. The suffering and loss experienced by the Palestinians, which they call Al Nakba, continues to today and is aided by countries of the West. In spite of a brutal military occupation of their country, Palestinians have kept their identity as Palestinians and through perseverance have kept their culture vibrant and alive. They continue to build their communities in spite of the daily hardships, humiliations, and death inflicted on them by the military occupation. The book contains a brief contemporary history of Palestine, short essays, first hand testimonies from Palestinians who experienced different periods of their country’s painful recent history, and chapters on the liberation art of currently occupied Palestine and on the origins of the traditional Palestinian costume.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Norma Hashim (Ed.): Dreaming of freedom: Palestinian child prisoners speak (2016, Kindle Edition, £3.82)
Publisher’s description: Dreaming of Freedom encourage its participants to speak naturally in their own voices, rather than seeking to depoliticize them or impose false notion of “innocence” on those who has participated in a just anti-colonial struggles. By placing Israel’s military detention of Palestinian Children in its full context – not only the Israeli occupation itself, but also Palestinian resistance to it – Dreaming of Freedom offers valuable insight into the life of children whose forays against heavily armed soldiers, walls and tanks have inspired millions.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Ghada Karmi: Return: A Palestinian memoir (Verso, 2015, £16.99)
Publisher’s description: Having grown up in Britain following her family’s exile from Palestine, doctor, author and academic Ghada Karmi leaves her adoptive home in a quest to return to her homeland. She starts work with the Palestinian Authority and gets a firsthand understanding of its bizarre bureaucracy under Israel’s occupation. In her quest, she takes the reader on a fascinating journey into the heart of one of the world’s most intractable conflict zones and one of the major issues of our time. Visiting places she has not seen since childhood, her unique insights reveal a militarised and barely recognisable homeland, and her home in Jerusalem, like much of the West Bank, occupied by strangers. Her encounters with politicians, fellow Palestinians, and Israeli soldiers cause her to question what role exiles like her have in the future of their country and whether return is truly possible.
Reviews: The Guardian
Sayed Kashua: Native: Dispatches from a Palestinian life (Grove Press, 2016, paperback, £12.99)
Publisher’s description: An Israeli-Palestinian who lived in Jerusalem for most of his life, Kashua started writing in Hebrew with the hope of creating one story that both Palestinians and Israelis could relate to, rather than two that cannot coexist together. He devoted his novels and his satirical weekly column published in Haaretz to telling the Palestinian story and exploring the contradictions of modern Israel, while also capturing the nuances of everyday family life in all its tenderness and chaos. (…) With an intimate tone fueled by deep-seated apprehension and a razor-sharp ironic wit, Kashua has been documenting his own life as well as that of society at large: he writes about his children’s upbringing and encounters with racism, about fatherhood and married life, the Jewish-Arab conflict, his professional ambitions, and—more than anything—his love of literature. From these circumstances, Kashua brings forth a series of brilliant, caustic, wry, and fearless reflections on social and cultural dynamics as experienced by someone who straddles two societies.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Hadar Lazar: Six singular figures: Jews & Arabs under the British Mandate (Mosaic Press, 2016, paperback, £19.99)
Publisher’s description: Six Singular Figures is the story of six people who lived and worked in Palestine in the 1930s; remarkable nonconformists who tried to find a solution to the deteriorating relations between Jews and Arabs, the two peoples living under British Mandate rule. Some took an active part in dialogues between the two peoples and believed that it was possible to live together, although they knew that the chances were slim. When World War II broke out, the contacts ended.
Reviews: none yet available
David Leach: Chasing Utopia: The future of the Kibbutz in a divided Israel (ECW Press, 2016, paperback, £13.99)
Publisher’s description: Say the word “Israel” today and it sparks images of walls and rockets and a bloody conflict without end. Yet for decades, the symbol of the Jewish State was the noble pioneer draining the swamps and making the deserts bloom: the legendary kibbutznik. So what ever happened to the pioneers’ dream of founding a socialist utopia in the land called Palestine? Chasing Utopia draws readers into the quest for answers to the defining political conflict of our era. Acclaimed author David Leach revisits his raucous memories of life as a kibbutz volunteer and returns to meet a new generation of Jewish and Arab citizens struggling to forge a better future together. Crisscrossing the nation, Leach chronicles the controversial decline of Israel’s kibbutz movement and witnesses a renaissance of the original vision for a peaceable utopia in unexpected corners of the Promised Land. Chasing Utopia is an entertaining and enlightening portrait of a divided nation where hope persists against the odds
Reviews: Kirkus Reviews
Quill & Quire
John Lyons: Balcony over Jerusalem: A Middle East memoir (HarperCollins, 2017, paperback, £14.99)
Publisher’s description: Leading Australian journalist John Lyons will take readers on a fascinating personal journey through the wonders and dangers of the Middle East. From the sheer excitement of arriving in Jerusalem with his wife and eight-year-old son, to the fall of dictators and his gripping account of what it feels like to be taken by Egyptian soldiers, blindfolded and interrogated, this is a memoir of the Middle East like no other. Drawing on a 20-year interest in the Middle East, Lyons has had extraordinary access – he’s interviewed everyone from Israel’s former Prime Ministers Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert to key figures from Hezbollah and Hamas. He’s witnessed the brutal Iranian Revolutionary Guard up close and was one of the last foreign journalists in Iran during the violent crackdown against the ‘Green Revolution’. He’s confronted Hamas officials about why they fire rockets into Israel and Israeli soldiers about why they fire tear gas at Palestinian school children. By telling the story of his family travelling through the region, this book is extremely readable and entertaining, full of humour, colour. It is sometimes dazzling in its detail, sometimes tragic. (…) Lyons also looks at 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank – the mechanics of how this works and the effect it now has on both Israelis and Palestinians.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Donald Macintyre: Gaza: Preparing for dawn (Oneworld, 2017, £20)
Publisher’s description: A coastal civilisation open to the world. A flourishing port on a major international trading route. This was Gaza’s past. Can it be its future?
Today, Gaza is home to a uniquely imprisoned people, most unable to travel to the West Bank, let alone Israel, where tens of thousands once worked, and unable to flee in wartime. Trapped inside a crucible of conflict, the surprise is that so many of them remain courageous, outspoken and steadfast. From refugee camps to factories struggling under economic stranglehold and bombardment, Macintyre reveals Gaza’s human tragedy through the stories of the ordinary people who live and work there. He portrays the suffering through siege and war, the failings – including those of the international community – that have seen opportunities for peace pass by and the fragile, lingering hope that Gaza, with its creativity and resilience, can be part of a better future for the Middle East.
Reviews: The Conversation
The New Arab
Cate Malek & Mateo Hoke (Eds.): Palestine speaks: Narratives of lives under Occupation (Verso Books, 2015, paperback, £14.99)
Publisher’s description: For more than six decades, Israel and Palestine have been the center of one of the world’s most widely reported yet least understood human rights crises. In Palestine Speaks men and women from the West Bank and Gaza describe in their own words how their lives have been shaped by the conflict. This includes eyewitness accounts of the most recent attacks on Gaza in 2014. The collection includes Ebtihaj, whose son, born during the first intifada, was killed by Israeli soldiers during a night raid almost twenty years later. Nader, a professional marathon runner from the Gaza Strip who is determined to pursue his dream of competing in international races despite countless challenges, including severe travel restrictions and a lack of resources to help him train.
Reviews: New York Review of Books
Dervla Murphy: Between river and sea, Encounters in Israel & Palestine (Eland, 2015, £18.99)
Publisher’s description: Dervla Murphy describes with passionate honesty the experience of her most recent journeys into Israel and Palestine. In cramped Haifa high-rises, in homes in the settlements and in a refugee camp on the West Bank, she talks with whomever she meets, trying to understand them and their attitudes with her customary curiosity, her acute ear and mind, her empathy, her openness to the experience and her moral seriousness. Behind the book lies a desire to communicate the reality of life on the ground, and to puzzle out for herself what might be done to alleviate the suffering of all who wish to share this land and to make peace in the region a possibility.Meeting the wise, the foolish and the frankly deluded, she knits together a patchwork picture that constitutes both sides of the divide – Hamas and Fatah, rural and urban, refugee,Bedouin nomad, indigenous inhabitant, Black Hebrew, Kabbalist, secular and Orthodox. She finds compassion and empathy in both communities, but is also appalled by instances of its lack on both sides. Overall her sympathies are with the Palestinians, remorselessly dispossessed of, and cut off from, their lands and frustrated and humiliated on a daily basis. Clinging to hope, she comes to believe that despite its difficulties the only viable future lies in a single democratic state of Israel/Palestine, based on one person, one vote – the One-State Solution.
Mohammed Omer: Shell-shocked: On the ground under Israel’s Gaza assault (OR Books,2015, paperback, £14)
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.
Reviews: The Independent
Foreign Policy Journal
Lipika Pelham: The unlikely settler (Other Press, 2014, £17.99)
Publisher’s description: The Unlikely Settler is none other than a young Bengali journalist who moves to Jerusalem with her English-Jewish husband and two children. He speaks Arabic and is an arch believer in the peace process; she leaves her career behind to follow his dream. Jerusalem propels Pelham into a world where freedom from tribal allegiance is a challenging prospect. From the school you choose for your children to the wine you buy, you take sides at every turn. Pelham’s complicated relationship with her husband, Leo, is as emotive as the city she lives in, as full of energy, pain, and contradictions. As she tries to navigate the complexities and absurdities of daily life in Jerusalem, often with hilarious results, Pelham achieves deep insights into the respective woes and guilt of her Palestinian and Israeli friends. Her intelligent analysis suggests a very different approach to a potential resolution of the conflict.
Reviews: Kirkus Reviews
Vijay Prashad (ed.): Letters to Palestine: Writers respond to war and occupation (Verso, 2015, paperback, £8.99)
Publisher’s description: This book traces the swelling American recognition of Palestinian suffering, struggle, and hope, in writing that is personal, lyrical, anguished, and inspiring. Some of the leading writers of our time, such as Junot Díaz and Teju Cole, poets and essayists, novelists and scholars, Palestinian American activists like Huwaida Arraf, Noura Erakat, and Remi Kanazi, give voice to feelings of empathy and solidarity—as well as anger at US support for Israeli policy—in intimate letters, beautiful essays, and furious poems.
Reviews: Passion to Understand
Anthony Robinson & Annemarie Young: Young Palestinians Speak: Living Under Occupation (Interlink Books, 2017, £16.99)
Publisher’s description: In Palestine today, a second generation of children and young people is growing up experiencing life under occupation. These are children who know only fear when they see an Israeli soldier or come across a roadblock.
This book provides a platform for children and young people, from all over this occupied land, to speak in their own voices about the day-to-day experience of living under occupation. It begins with an explanation of what the occupation means for those living under it, and is followed by the heart of the book: nine sections, each one focusing on one of the places visited by the authors. At the end, there is a timeline showing the main events that led up to the occupation.
As you read their words, you will see that what these young people want is a stable family life, security where they live, the freedom to move around their country, safety and space in which to grow up and dream of a future. They are just like young people everywhere; it is only the circumstances of their lives that are so different.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Middle East Monitor
Lillian Rosengarten: Survival and conscience: From the shadows of Nazi Germany to the Jewish boat to Gaza (Just World Books, 2015, paperback, £14.99)
Publisher’s description: In 1936, Lillian Rosengarten and her family fled Nazi Germany for New York. But even there, the legacy of the Nazis’ brutality continued to cast a shadow over her family for many decades. In Survival and Conscience Rosengarten describes how she faced those challenges within her own life while gaining empathy for the struggles of others, realizing that all forms of extreme nationalism and hatred must be vigorously resisted. Like many other refugees from Nazism and survivors of the Holocaust, Rosengarten became a strong advocate of Palestinian rights. In 2010, she joined the “Jewish Boat to Gaza,” designed to break Israel’s punishing blockade of the Strip. Though the Israeli Navy obstructed their humanitarian mission, nothing can stop Lillian Rosengarten’s inspiring story of love, self-discovery, and activism
Reviews: none yet available
Alice Rothchild: Condition critical: Life and death in Palestine/Israel (Just World Books, 2017, paperback, £17.50)
Publisher’s description: Since 2003, obstetrician Alice Rothchild has traveled annually to Israel/Palestine with other concerned Americans, to learn about health and human rights situation of politically marginalized communities, especially Palestinians. Condition Critical presents key blog posts and analytical essays that explore everyday life in Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza up close and with searing honesty. These eyewitness reports and intimate stories depict the critical condition of a region suffering from decades-old wounds of colonization and occupation. Condition Critical dares (and inspires) its readers to examine the painful consequences of Zionism and Israeli expansion and to bend the arc of the moral universe towards justice.
Grant Rumley & Amir Tibon: The last Palestinian: The rise and reign of Mahmoud Abbas (Prometheus Books, 2017, £21)
Publisher’s description: Mahmoud Abbas rose to prominence as a top Palestinian negotiator, became the leader of his nation, and then tragically failed to negotiate a peace agreement. (…) Filled with new details and based on interviews with key figures in Ramallah, Jerusalem, and Washington, this book weaves together a fascinating story that will interest both veteran observers of the conflict and readers new to Israeli-Palestinian history. The authors (…) tell the inside story of Abbas’s complicated multi-decade relationship with America, Israel, and his own people. They trace his upbringing in Galilee, his family’s escape from the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, and his education abroad. (…) The authors pay special attention to the crucial years of 2005 to 2014, exploring such questions as: How did Abbas lose control of half of his governing territory and the support of more than half of his people? Why was Abbas the most prominent Palestinian leader to denounce terrorism? Why did Abbas twice walk away from peace offers from Israel and the U.S. in 2008 and 2014? And how did he turn himself from the first world leader to receive a phone call from President Obama to a person who ultimately lost the faith of the American president?
Reviews: Foreword (downloads as a PDF)
Washington Independent Review of Books
Steve Sabella: The parachute paradox (Kerber, 2017, £33)
Publisher’s description: The Parachute Paradox tells the life story of artist Steve Sabella, who was born in Jerusalem’s Old City and raised under Israeli occupation. After living through both intifadas, being kidnapped in Gaza, and learning to navigate Palestinian and Israeli culture, he feels in exile at home. For him, the Occupation attaches each Palestinian to an Israeli, as if in a tandem jump. The Israeli is always in control, placing the Palestinian under threat in a never-ending hostage situation. He realizes he has two options: either surrender or unbuckle his harness. Blurring fact and fiction, love and loss, the memoir traces one man’s arduous search for liberation from within, through a confrontation with his colonized imagination.
Reviews: The National
Atef Abu Saif: Drone eats with me (Comma Press, 2015, paperback, £9.99)
Publisher’s description: On 7 July 2014, in an apparent response to the murder of three teenagers, Israel launched a major offensive against the Gaza Strip, lasting 51 days, killing 2145 Palestinians (578 of them children), injuring over 11,000, and demolishing 17,200 homes. The global outcry at this collective punishment of an already persecuted people was followed by widespread astonishment at the pro-Israeli bias of Western media coverage. The usual news machine rolled up, and the same distressing images and entrenched political rhetoric were broadcast, yet almost nothing was reported of the on-going lives of ordinary Gazans – the real victims of the war.One of the few voices to make it out was that of Atef Abu Saif, a writer and teacher from Jabalia Refugee Camp, whose eye-witness accounts (…) offered a rare window into the conflict for Western readers. Here, Atef’s complete diaries of the war allow us to witness the full extent of last summer’s atrocities from the most humble of perspectives: that of a young father, fearing for his family’s safety, trying to stay sane in an insanely one-sided war.
Reviews: The Rumpus
Shlomo Sand: How I stopped being a Jew (Verso, 2014, £9.99)
Publisher’s description: Shlomo Sand was born in 1946, in a displaced person’s camp in Austria, to Jewish parents; the family later migrated to Palestine. As a young man, Sand came to question his Jewish identity, even that of a “secular Jew.” With this meditative and thoughtful mixture of essay and personal recollection, he articulates the problems at the center of modern Jewish identity. How I Stopped Being a Jew discusses the negative effects of the Israeli exploitation of the “chosen people” myth and its “holocaust industry.” Sand criticizes the fact that, in the current context, what “Jewish” means is, above all, not being Arab and reflects on the possibility of a secular, non-exclusive Israeli identity, beyond the legends of Zionism.
Reviews: Doha Institute
Times Higher Education
Lotte Buch Segal: No place for grief: Martyrs, prisoners and mourning in contemporary Palestine (Univ. of Pennsylvania Press, 2016, £32.50)
Publisher’s description: Westerners ‘know’ Palestine through images of war and people in immediate distress. Yet this focus has as its consequence that other, less spectacular stories of daily distress are rarely told. Those seldom noticed are the women behind the men who engage in armed resistance against the military occupation: wives of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention and the widows of the martyrs. In Palestine, being related to a detainee serving a sentence for participation in the resistance activities against Israel is a source of pride. Consequently, the wives of detainees are expected to sustain these relationships through steadfast endurance, no matter the effects upon the marriage or family. (…) Lotte Buch Segal offers a glimpse of the lives, and the contradictory emotions, of the families of both detainees and martyrs through an in-depth ethnographic investigation. No Place for Grief asks us to think about what it means to grieve when that which is grieved does not lend itself to a language of loss and mourning.
Reviews: none yet available
Raja Shehadeh: Where the line is drawn: Crossing boundaries in Occupied Palestine (Profile Books, 2017, £14.99)
Publisher’s description: As a young boy, Raja Shehadeh was entranced by a forbidden Israeli postage stamp in his uncle’s album, intrigued by tales of a green land beyond the border. Impossible then to know what Israel would come to mean to him, or to foresee the future occupation of his home in Palestine. Later, as a young lawyer, he worked to halt land seizures and towards peace and justice in the region, and made close friends with several young Israelis. But as life became increasingly unbearable under Occupation, and horizons shrank, it was impossible to escape politics or the past, and friendships and hopes were put to the test. Brave, intelligent and deeply controversial, in Where the Line is Drawn award-winning author Raja Shehadeh explores the devastating effect of Occupation on even the most intimate aspects of life. Looking back over decades of political turmoil, Shehadeh traces the impact on the fragile bonds of friendship across the Israel-Palestine border, and asks whether those considered bitter enemies can come together to forge a common future.
Reviews: The Guardian
Salman Abu Sitta: Mapping my return: A Palestinian memoir (American University in Cairo Press, 2016, £29.95)
Publisher’s description: Salman Abu Sitta, who has single-handedly made available crucial mapping work on Palestine, was just ten years old when he left his home near Beersheba in 1948, but as for many Palestinians of his generation, the profound effects of that traumatic loss would form the defining feature of his life from that moment on. In this rich and moving memoir, Abu Sitta draws on oral histories and personal recollections to vividly evoke the vanished world of his family and home from the late nineteenth century to the eve of the British withdrawal from Palestine and subsequent war. Alongside accounts of an idyllic childhood spent on his family’s farm estate Abu Sitta gives a personal and very human face to the dramatic events of 1930s and 1940s Palestine, conveying the acute sense of foreboding felt by Palestinians as Zionist ambitions and militarization expanded under the mandate. (…) Abu Sitta’s narrative is imbued throughout with a burning sense of justice, a determination to recover and document what rightfully belongs to his people, an aim given poignant expression in his painstaking cartographic and archival work on Palestine, for which he is justifiably acclaimed.
Middle East Monitor
Tom Sperlinger: Romeo and Juliet in Palestine: Teaching under Occupation (Zero Books, 2015, paperback, £9.99)
Publisher’s description: Is ‘Romeo and Juliet’ really a love story, or is it a play about young people living in dangerous circumstances? How might life under occupation produce a new reading of ‘Julius Caesar’? What choices must a group of Palestinian students make, when putting on a play which has Jewish protagonists? And why might a young Palestinian student refuse to read? For five months at the start of 2013, Tom Sperlinger taught English literature at the Abu Dis campus of Al-Quds University in the Occupied West Bank. In this account of the semester, Sperlinger explores his students’ encounters with works from ‘Hamlet’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ to Kafka and Malcolm X. By placing stories from the classroom alongside anecdotes about life in the West Bank, Sperlinger shows how his own ideas about literature and teaching changed during his time in Palestine, and asks what such encounters might reveal about the nature of pedagogy and the role of a university under occupation.
Reviews: The Guardian
LA Review of Books
Yasir Suleiman (Ed.): Being Palestinian: Personal reflections of Palestinian identity in the diaspora (Edinburgh University Press, 2016, paperback, £16.99)
During the early to mid-twentieth century, the Zionist Organization secured a series of political victories on the international stage, leading to the foundation of a Jewish state and to its ability to expand its territorial control within Palestine. The International Diplomacy of Israel’s Founders provides a revisionist account of the founding of Israel by exposing the misrepresentations and false assurances of Zionist diplomats during this formative period of Israeli history. By comparing diplomatic statements at the United Nations and elsewhere against the historical record, it sheds new light on the legacies of such leaders as Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion, Abba Eban, and Shabtai Rosenne. Including coverage of little-discussed moments in early Israeli history, this book offers an important new perspective for anyone interested in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.How does it feel when you cannot find Palestine under ‘P’ in the encyclopedia your father brings home? Why cultivate fig and orange trees in the Arizona desert? What does it mean to know every inch of a village you have never seen, a village that no longer exists? In this groundbreaking volume, 102 Palestinians in North America and the United Kingdom reflect in their own words on what it means to be Palestinian in the diaspora. Men and women, young and old, Christians and Muslims, including well-known academics, poets, writers, faith leaders and singers, reveal their tangled ties to ‘home’ and ‘homeland’, exploring how Palestine in the diaspora can be both lost and found, bereaved and celebrated, lived and longed-for.
Reviews: This Week in Palestine
Palestine Book Awards
S.Tamari & I.Nassar (Eds.): The storyteller of Jerusalem: The life & times of Wasif Jawhariyyeh, 1904-48 (Interlink Books, 2014 paperback, £15.99)
Publisher’s description: The memoirs of Wasif Jawhariyyeh are a remarkable treasure trove of writings on the life, culture, music, and history of Jerusalem. Spanning over four decades, from 1904 to 1948, they cover a period of enormous and turbulent change in Jerusalem’s history, but change lived and recalled from the daily vantage point of the street storyteller. Oud player, music lover and ethnographer, poet, collector, partygoer, satirist, civil servant, local historian, devoted son, husband, father, and person of faith, Wasif viewed the life of his city through multiple roles and lenses. The result is a vibrant, unpredictable, sprawling collection of anecdotes, observations, and yearnings as varied as the city itself. Reflecting the times of Ottoman rule, the British mandate, and the run-up to the founding of the state of Israel, The Storyteller of Jerusalem offers intimate glimpses of people and events, and of forces promoting confined, divisive ethnic and sectarian identities. Yet, through his passionate immersion in the life of the city, Wasif reveals the communitarian ethos that runs so powerfully through Jerusalem’s past. And that offers perhaps the best hope for its future.
Reviews: Electronic Intifada
Palestine Book Awards
Sandy Tolan: Children of the stone: The power of music in a hard land (Bloomsbury, 2015, £20)
Publisher’s description: Children of the Stone is the unlikely story of Ramzi Hussein Aburedwan, a boy from a Palestinian refugee camp in Ramallah who confronts the occupying army, gets an education, masters an instrument, dreams of something much bigger than himself, and then inspires scores of others to work with him to make that dream a reality. That dream is of a music school in the midst of a refugee camp in Ramallah, a school that will transform the lives of thousands of children through music. (…) Children of the Stone is a story about music, freedom and conflict; determination and vision. It’s a vivid portrait of life amid checkpoints and military occupation, a growing movement of nonviolent resistance, the past and future of musical collaboration across the Israeli-Palestinian divide, and the potential of music to help children see new possibilities for their lives. against the odds to create something lasting and beautiful in a war-torn land.
Erica Weiss: Conscientious objectors in Israel: Citizenship, sacrifice, trials of fealty (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014, £32.50)
Publisher’s description: In Conscientious Objectors in Israel, Erica Weiss examines the lives of Israelis who have refused to perform military service for reasons of conscience. Based on long-term fieldwork, this ethnography chronicles the personal experiences of two generations of Jewish conscientious objectors as they grapple with the pressure of justifying their actions to the Israeli state and society—often suffering severe social and legal consequences, including imprisonment. While most scholarly work has considered the causes of animosity and violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Conscientious Objectors in Israel examines how and under what circumstances one is able to refuse to commit acts of violence in the midst of that conflict. By exploring the social life of conscientious dissent, Weiss exposes the tension within liberal citizenship between the protection of individual rights and obligations of self-sacrifice. While conscience is a strong cultural claim, military refusal directly challenges Israeli state sovereignty. Weiss explores conscience as a political entity that sits precariously outside the jurisdictional bounds of state power.
Reviews: LSE Blogs
Jewish Book Council