From earliest times to the present – introductions and overviews

Page last updated 2 June 2018

General overviews

(and see the related sub-section on The Palestinian refugees)


1. Israel and Palestine: Competing Histories
Mike Berry and Greg Philo, Pluto Press, 2006

In our view, by far the best introduction to the conflict available, from its Zionist origins to the early 2000s. Reproduced by kind permission of the authors and of Pluto Press. Copyright © Mike Berry and Greg Philo 2006

This book was developed from work undertaken for a study of TV news coverage of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict Bad News from Israel (Pluto Press, 2004). The authors tried to provide a brief history of the conflict but as they wrote at the time:

It quickly became apparent to us that there was not one history of the conflict but many, since almost every historical fact was contested by one or other of the parties…. In this book we have outlined the range of different positions and arguments on all the major events in the history of the conflict… [As] far as possible we have indicated which views are best supported by available evidence and where there are contradictions or inaccuracies in what is being said. We have, however, tried to do this with a light touch because in the end it is up to our readers to make their own decisions on the validity of accounts and on what they believe. Finally, we hope that in laying out the range of arguments in a clear and accessible fashion, we may contribute to a better-informed public debate in an area that has so often been full of propaganda and confusion.


2. The Origin of the Palestine-Israel Conflict
Jews for Justice in the Middle East, 2001.

Provides quotes from experts on all issues from the Canaanites to the present day (c.2000). Also downloadable as a 40pp PDF


3. Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A MERIP Primer
Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar, The Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), nd.

Detailed overview of the conflict from its origins to events of 2012 (also available to download as a 16pp PDF).


4. Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer
Phyllis Bennis, Interlink Books

With straightforward language, Phyllis Bennis, longtime analyst of the region, answers basic questions about Israel and Israelis, Palestine and Palestinians, the US and the Middle East, Zionism and anti-Semitism; about complex issues ranging from the Oslo peace process to the election of Hamas. Together her answers provide a comprehensive understanding of the longstanding Palestinian–Israeli conflict.


5. United Nations’ history of Palestine from 1917 (PART I: 1917-1947)

Written in 1978 a substantial (c. 37k words) but possibly dated analysis of the period from the Balfour Declaration until the end of the Mandate.


6. Tell Me Again, Who Made The Desert Bloom?
By Diana Mason, ‘Lawrence of Cyberia’ (blog), JfJfP 23 Mar 2010

In December 1945 and January 1946, the British Mandate authorities carried out an extensive survey of Palestine. Diana Mason draws on it extensively in her entertaining account of the productivity of Palestinian agriculture at the time.


7. Zionism And Its Impact
Ann M. Lesch, originally published in the Encyclopedia Of The Palestinians ed. Philip Mattar, Facts on File, 2000

A comprehensive overview of the Zionist movement and its policies, and their implication for the Palestinians, from 1880s to the establishment of the state of Israel.


8. Exposing Israel’s original sins
Gideon Levy, Ha’aretz Book Review, 11 Mar 2000

“Correcting a Mistake,” by new historian Benny Morris, “is a collection of articles that come together to form a gripping, infuriating collage of injustices committed between 1936-1956 by the Jewish community of Palestine, and thereafter, the state, against the native Palestinians.”


9. Background to the Israel-Palestine Crisis: Question & Answer
Stephen R. Shalom, from Z Magazine, May 2002, with footnotes.


10. Truth against Truth
English [NB: updated version] 1 Jan 2010 A history of the conflict by Gush Shalom (the Israeli Peace Bloc).

A basic introduction to and alternative view of the history of the conflict in 101 paragraphs, outlining the basic principles Gush Shalom believes will need to underlie any peace settlement. Download as PDF


11. Israeli & Zionist Frequently Asked Questions (not a web-page; the file downloads)

“Israeli & Zionist Frequently Asked Questions section is the most frequently visited section at…present[ing] the Palestinian version of events.” – 74pp document


12. The Truth about 1948
Norman Finkelstein, Against the Current, reprinted by Not in My Name, first published 1988

A review of Simha Flapan’s important study The Birth of Israel: Myths and Realities (Pantheon, NY 1987), unfortunately long out of print. In this book, “new historian” Flapan identifies seven myths about Israel’s foundation and systematically demolishes them. Finkelstein provides a convenient summary and discussion of Flapan’s work and adds his own critical voice.


13. A Dear Jon (Voight) Letter About Gaza and the History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict
Profs Gil Hochberg and Mark LeVine, Network of Spritiual Progressives mailing, 15 Aug 2014, on JfjfP website

In this letter Hochberg and LeVine, professors of modern Middle Eastern studies specialising on the history and contemporary realities of Israel, Zionism and Palestine, take on the arguments presented by actor Jon Voight in 2014 in support of the latest Israeli bombing and invasion of Gaza. In doing so they provide a brief, alternative overview of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel


14. The Nakba, Flight and expulsion on the Palestinians in 1948

Nakba exhibition, staged by Zochrot, 2014

This exhibition was staged in Germany by Zochrot for Flüchtlingskinder im Libanon e.V., a charitable association for aiding Palestinian refugee children in Lebanon. The English translation was subsidised by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) in the European Parliament.  The exhibition portrays the background, history and present day ramifications of the expulsion of some 750,000 Palestinians, during the war of 1947-49, by Zionist forces from the part of Palestine that became Israel. Palestinians and other Arabs call it the Nakba, or catastrophe.

“… such a painful journey into the past is the only way forward if we want to create a better future for us all, Palestinians and Israelis alike.“ Ilan Pappe, Israeli historian


15. Marking the Nakba from betrayals and warnings to future visions

A selection of analysis that reviews the past 100 years, dissects the present, and looks ahead to a better future, Al-Shabaka Palestinian policy Network, May 2018




1. Palestine-Israel 101: The Two State Solution
American Task Force on Palestine, uploaded 30 Jan 2007

The ATFP provides this blurb about this two-part half-hour video:
“This short educational video on explaining the Palestinian narrative of the conflict with Israel was produced by the American Task Force on Palestine in 2005, two years after the inception of ATFP, with the help of the Cerebellum Corporation. The short, which advocates for a peaceful end to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, still attracts diverse viewers from all over the world, and, given that it is almost 10 years old, will be subjected to a process of thorough review and update… Peace and prosperity, for both Palestinians and Israelis, will not be achieved without a mutual understanding, if not a mutual acceptance, of each other’s narratives.”


2. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 101
Jewish Voice for Peace, adapted from the Institute of Middle East Understanding (IMEU)’s background briefings.


Contents of this section


a) General introduction
b) Timelines and maps

c) From earliest times to the present – introductions and overviews
d) The Palestinian refugees

e) From 1948 to 1967
f) Oslo and after
g) Gaza’s special history

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