This is a reading list put together by Joey Ayoub.
I’m a multilingual writer, researcher and editor.
I host ‘The Fire These Times‘ podcast and newsletter.
My MA Thesis (SOAS, 2016) was entitled ‘Jewish identity and language politics: Hebrew, Yiddish and the contemporary debate on Zionism’.
Criteria for books:
Informative. That’s it. I don’t necessarily agree with everything written in these books.
Book descriptions aren’t mine. You can also check out the Bookshop.org link: https://bookshop.org/lists/reading-list-israel-palestine
The Holocaust and the Nakba
A New Grammar of Trauma and History
Edited by Bashir Bashir, Amos Goldberg
Forward by Elias Khoury
In this groundbreaking book, leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals examine how and why the Holocaust and the Nakba are interlinked without blurring fundamental differences between them. While these two foundational tragedies are often discussed separately and in abstraction from the constitutive historical global contexts of nationalism and colonialism, The Holocaust and the Nakba explores the historical, political, and cultural intersections between them. The majority of the contributors argue that these intersections are embedded in cultural imaginations, colonial and asymmetrical power relations, realities, and structures.
Focusing on them paves the way for a new political, historical, and moral grammar that enables a joint Arab-Jewish dwelling and supports historical reconciliation in Israel/Palestine. This book does not seek to draw a parallel or comparison between the Holocaust and Nakba or to merely inaugurate a “dialogue” between them. Instead, it searches for a new historical and political grammar for relating and narrating their complicated intersections.
The book features prominent international contributors, including a foreword by Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury on the centrality of the Holocaust and Nakba in the essential struggle of humanity against racism, and an afterword by literary scholar Jacqueline Rose on the challenges and contributions of the linkage between the Holocaust and Nakba for power to shift and a world of justice and equality to be created between the two peoples. The Holocaust and the Nakba is the first extended and collective scholarly treatment in English of these two constitutive traumas together.
The Arab and Jewish Questions
Geographic of Engagement in Palestine and Beyond
Edited by Bashir Bashir and Leila Farsakh
Nineteenth-century Europe turned the political status of its Jewish communities into the “Jewish Question,” as both Christianity and rising forms of nationalism viewed Jews as the ultimate other. With the onset of Zionism, this “question” migrated to Palestine and intensified under British colonial rule and in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Zionism’s attempt to solve the “Jewish Question” created what came to be known as the “Arab Question,” which concerned the presence and rights of the Arab population in Palestine. For the most part, however, Jewish settlers denied or dismissed the question they created, to the detriment of both Arabs and Jews in Palestine and elsewhere.
This book brings together leading scholars to consider how these two questions are entangled historically and in the present day. It offers critical analyses of Arab engagements with the question of Jewish rights alongside Zionist and non-Zionist Jewish considerations of Palestinian identity and political rights. Together, the essays show that the Arab and Jewish questions, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which they have become subsumed, belong to the same thorny history. Despite their major differences, the historical Jewish and Arab questions are about the political rights of oppressed groups and their inclusion within exclusionary political communities—a question that continues to foment tensions in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Shedding new light on the intricate relationships among Orientalism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, colonialism, and the impasse in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this book reveals the inseparability of Arab and Jewish struggles for self-determination and political equality.
Contributors include Gil Anidjar, Brian Klug, Amal Ghazal, Ella Shohat, Hakem Al-Rustom, Hillel Cohen, Yuval Evri, Derek Penslar, Jacqueline Rose, Moshe Behar, Maram Masarwi, and the editors, Bashir Bashir and Leila Farsakh.
Stories from a century after the Nakba
Edited by Basma Ghalayini
Palestine + 100 poses a question to twelve Palestinian writers: what might your country look like in the year 2048 – a century after the tragedies and trauma of what has come to be called the Nakba? How might this event – which, in 1948, saw the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinian Arabs from their homes – reach across a century of occupation, oppression, and political isolation, to shape the country and its people? Will a lasting peace finally have been reached, or will future technology only amplify the suffering and mistreatment of Palestinians?
Covering a range of approaches – from SF noir, to nightmarish dystopia, to high-tech farce – these stories use the blank canvas of the future to reimagine the Palestinian experience today. Along the way, we encounter drone swarms, digital uprisings, time-bending VR, peace treaties that span parallel universes, and even a Palestinian superhero, in probably the first anthology of science fiction from Palestine ever.
Translated from the Arabic by Raph Cormack, Mohamed Ghalaieny, Andrew Leber, Thoraya El-Rayyes, Yasmine Seale and Jonathan Wright.
On the Arab-Jew, Palestine, and Other Displacements
Selected Writings of Ella Shohat
By Ella Shohat
Spanning several decades, Ella 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.
Justice for Some
Law and the Question of Palestine
By Noura Erakat
Justice in the Question of Palestine is often framed as a question of law. Yet none of the Israel-Palestinian conflict’s most vexing challenges have been resolved by judicial intervention. Occupation law has failed to stem Israel’s settlement enterprise. Laws of war have permitted killing and destruction during Israel’s military offensives in the Gaza Strip. The Oslo Accord’s two-state solution is now dead letter.
Justice for Some offers a new approach to understanding the Palestinian struggle for freedom, told through the power and control of international law. Focusing on key junctures—from the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to present-day wars in Gaza—Noura Erakat shows how the strategic deployment of law has shaped current conditions. Over the past century, the law has done more to advance Israel’s interests than the Palestinians’. But, Erakat argues, this outcome was never inevitable.
Law is politics, and its meaning and application depend on the political intervention of states and people alike. Within the law, change is possible. International law can serve the cause of freedom when it is mobilized in support of a political movement. Presenting the promise and risk of international law, Justice for Some calls for renewed action and attention to the Question of Palestine.
Babel in Zion
Jews, Nationalism, and Language Diversity in Palestine, 1920-1948
By Liora R. Halperin
The promotion and vernacularization of Hebrew, traditionally a language of Jewish liturgy and study, was a central accomplishment of the Zionist movement in Palestine. Viewing twentieth-century history through the lens of language, author Liora Halperin questions the accepted scholarly narrative of a Zionist move away from multilingualism during the years following World War I, demonstrating how Jews in Palestine remained connected linguistically by both preference and necessity to a world outside the boundaries of the pro-Hebrew community even as it promoted Hebrew and achieved that language’s dominance.
The story of language encounters in Jewish Palestine is a fascinating tale of shifting power relationships, both locally and globally. Halperin’s absorbing study explores how a young national community was compelled to modify the dictates of Hebrew exclusivity as it negotiated its relationships with its Jewish population, Palestinian Arabs, the British, and others outside the margins of the national project and ultimately came to terms with the limitations of its hegemony in an interconnected world.
Returning to Haifa and Other Stories
By Ghassan Kanafani
“Politics and the novel,” Ghassan Kanafani once said, “are an indivisible case.” Fadl al-Naqib reflected that Kanafani “wrote the Palestinian story, then he was written by it.” His narratives offer entry into the Palestinian experience of the conflict that has anguished the people of the Middle East for more than a century.
In Palestine’s Children, each story involves a child—a child who is victimized by political events and circumstances, but who nevertheless participates in the struggle toward a better future. As in Kanafani’s other fiction, these stories explore the need to recover the past—the lost homeland—by action. At the same time, written by a major talent, they have a universal appeal.
The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance
By Tareq Baconi
Hamas rules Gaza and the lives of the two million Palestinians who live there. Demonized in media and policy debates, various accusations and critical assumptions have been used to justify extreme military action against Hamas. The reality of Hamas is, of course, far more complex. Neither a democratic political party nor a terrorist group, Hamas is a multifaceted liberation organization, one rooted in the nationalist claims of the Palestinian people.
Hamas Contained offers the first history of the group on its own terms. Drawing on interviews with organization leaders, as well as publications from the group, Tareq Baconi maps Hamas’s thirty-year transition from fringe military resistance towards governance. He breaks new ground in questioning the conventional understanding of Hamas and shows how the movement’s ideology ultimately threatens the Palestinian struggle and, inadvertently, its own legitimacy.
Hamas’s reliance on armed struggle as a means of liberation has failed in the face of a relentless occupation designed to fragment the Palestinian people. As Baconi argues, under Israel’s approach of managing rather than resolving the conflict, Hamas’s demand for Palestinian sovereignty has effectively been neutralized by its containment in Gaza. This dynamic has perpetuated a deadlock characterized by its brutality—and one that has made permissible the collective punishment of millions of Palestinian civilians.
A Child in Palestine
The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali
With a Forward by Joe Sacco
Naji al-Ali grew up in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in the south Lebanese city of Sidon, where his gift for drawing was discovered by the Palestinian poet Ghassan Kanafani in the late 1950s. Early the following decade he left for Kuwait, embarking on a thirty-year career that would see his cartoons published daily in newspapers from Cairo to Beirut, London to Paris.
Resolutely independent and unaligned to any political party, Naji al-Ali strove to speak to and for the ordinary Arab people; the pointed satire of his stark, symbolic cartoons brought him widespread renown. Through his most celebrated creation, the witness-child Handala, al-Ali criticized the brutality of Israeli occupation, the venality and corruption of the regimes in the region, and the suffering of the Palestinian people, earning him many powerful enemies and the soubriquet “the Palestinian Malcolm X.”
For the first time in book form, A Child in Palestine presents the work of one of the Arab world’s greatest cartoonists, revered throughout the region for his outspokenness, honesty and humanity.
“That was when the character Handala was born. The young, barefoot Handala was a symbol of my childhood. He was the age I was when I had left Palestine and, in a sense, I am still that age today and I feel that I can recall and sense every bush, every stone, every house and every tree I passed when I was a child in Palestine. The character of Handala was a sort of icon that protected my soul from falling whenever I felt sluggish or I was ignoring my duty. That child was like a splash of fresh water on my forehead, bringing me to attention and keeping me from error and loss. He was the arrow of the compass, pointing steadily towards Palestine. Not just Palestine in geographical terms, but Palestine in its humanitarian sense—the symbol of a just cause, whether it is located in Egypt, Vietnam or South Africa.”—Naji al-Ali, in conversation with Radwa Ashour
A City in Fragments
Urban Text in Modern Jerusalem
by Yair Wallach
In the mid-nineteenth century, Jerusalem was rich with urban texts inscribed in marble, gold, and cloth, investing holy sites with divine meaning. Ottoman modernization and British colonial rule transformed the city; new texts became a key means to organize society and subjectivity. Stone inscriptions, pilgrims’ graffiti, and sacred banners gave way to street markers, shop signs, identity papers, and visiting cards that each sought to define and categorize urban space and people.
A City in Fragments tells the modern history of a city overwhelmed by its religious and symbolic significance. Yair Wallach walked the streets of Jerusalem to consider the graffiti, logos, inscriptions, official signs, and ephemera that transformed the city over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As these urban texts became a tool in the service of capitalism, nationalism, and colonialism, the affinities of Arabic and Hebrew were forgotten and these sister-languages found themselves locked in a bitter war. Looking at the writing of—and literally on—Jerusalem, Wallach offers a creative and expansive history of the city, a fresh take on modern urban texts, and a new reading of the Israel/Palestine conflict through its material culture.
Queer Masculinities and Nationalism in Israeli Cinema
By Raz Yosef
Zionism was not only a political and ideological program but also a sexual one. The liberation of Jews and creation of a new nation were closely intertwined with a longing for the redemption and normalization of the Jewish male body. That body had to be rescued from anti-Semitic, scientific-medical discourse associating it with disease, madness, degeneracy, sexual perversity, and femininityeven with homosexuality. The Zionist movement was intent on transforming the very nature of European Jewish masculinity as it had existed in the diaspora. Zionist/Israeli films expressed this desire through visual and narrative tropes, enforcing the image of the hypermasculine, colonialist-explorer and militaristic nation-builder, an image dependent on the homophobic repudiation of the “feminine” within men.
The creation of a new heterosexual Jewish man was further intertwined with attitudes on the breeding of children, bodily hygiene, racial improvement, and Orientalist perspectiveswhich associated the East, and especially Eastern bodies, with unsanitary practices, plagues, disease, and sexual perversity. By stigmatizing Israels Eastern populations as agents of death and degeneration, Zionism created internal biologized enemies, against whom the Zionist society had to defend itself. In the name of securing the life and reproduction of the new Ashkenazi Jewry, Israeli society discriminated against both its internal enemies, the Palestinians, and its own citizens, the Mizrahim (Oriental Jews).
Yosef’s critique of the construction of masculinities and queerness in Israeli cinema and culture also serves as a model for the investigation of the role of male sexuality within national culture in general.
Out of Place
By Edward Said
From one of the most important intellectuals of our time comes an extraordinary story of exile and a celebration of an irrecoverable past. A fatal medical diagnosis in 1991 convinced Edward Said that he should leave a record of where he was born and spent his childhood, and so with this memoir he rediscovers the lost Arab world of his early years in Palestine, Lebanon, and Egypt.
Said writes with great passion and wit about his family and his friends from his birthplace in Jerusalem, schools in Cairo, and summers in the mountains above Beirut, to boarding school and college in the United States, revealing an unimaginable world of rich, colorful characters and exotic eastern landscapes. Underscoring all is the confusion of identity the young Said experienced as he came to terms with the dissonance of being an American citizen, a Christian and a Palestinian, and, ultimately, an outsider. Richly detailed, moving, often profound, Out of Place depicts a young man’s coming of age and the genesis of a great modern thinker.
A History of Jewish Radicalism
By Alain Brossat and David Fernbach
Jewish radicals manned the barricades on the avenues of Petrograd and the alleys of the Warsaw ghetto; they were in the vanguard of those resisting Franco and the Nazis. They originated in Yiddishland, a vast expanse of Eastern Europe that, before the Holocaust, ran from the Baltic Sea to the western edge of Russia and incorporated hundreds of Jewish communities with a combined population of some 11 million people. Within this territory, revolutionaries arose from the Jewish misery of Eastern and Central Europe; they were raised in the fear of God and taught to respect religious tradition, but were caught up in the great current of revolutionary utopian thinking. Socialists, Communists, Bundists, Zionists, Trotskyists, manual workers and intellectuals, they embodied the multifarious activity and radicalism of a Jewish working class that glimpsed the Messiah in the folds of the red flag.
Today, the world from which they came has disappeared, dismantled and destroyed by the Nazi genocide. After this irremediable break, there remain only survivors, and the work of memory for red Yiddishland. This book traces the struggles of these militants, their singular trajectories, their oscillation between great hope and doubt, their lost illusions—a red and Jewish gaze on the history of the twentieth century.
Writing between Hebrew and Arabic in Israel/Palestine
By Lital Levy
A Palestinian-Israeli poet declares a new state whose language, “Homelandic,” is a combination of Arabic and Hebrew. A Jewish-Israeli author imagines a “language plague” that infects young Hebrew speakers with old world accents, and sends the narrator in search of his Arabic heritage. In Poetic Trespass, Lital Levy brings together such startling visions to offer the first in-depth study of the relationship between Hebrew and Arabic in the literature and culture of Israel/Palestine. More than that, she presents a captivating portrait of the literary imagination’s power to transgress political boundaries and transform ideas about language and belonging.
Blending history and literature, Poetic Trespass traces the interwoven life of Arabic and Hebrew in Israel/Palestine from the turn of the twentieth century to the present, exposing the two languages’ intimate entanglements in contemporary works of prose, poetry, film, and visual art by both Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel. In a context where intense political and social pressures work to identify Jews with Hebrew and Palestinians with Arabic, Levy finds writers who have boldly crossed over this divide to create literature in the language of their “other,” as well as writers who bring the two languages into dialogue to rewrite them from within.
Exploring such acts of poetic trespass, Levy introduces new readings of canonical and lesser-known authors, including Emile Habiby, Hayyim Nahman Bialik, Anton Shammas, Saul Tchernichowsky, Samir Naqqash, Ronit Matalon, Salman Masalha, A. B. Yehoshua, and Almog Behar. By revealing uncommon visions of what it means to write in Arabic and Hebrew, Poetic Trespass will change the way we understand literature and culture in the shadow of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Arabs and the Holocaust
The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives
By Gilbert Achcar
The Arab–Israeli conflict goes far beyond the wars waged on Middle East battlefields. There is also a war of narratives revolving around the two defining traumas of the conflict: the Holocaust and the Nakba. One side is charged with Holocaust denial, the other with exploiting a tragedy while denying the tragedies of others.
In this path-breaking book, political scientist Gilbert Achcar explores these conflicting narratives and considers their role in today’s Middle East dispute. He analyzes the various Arab responses to the Holocaust, from the earliest intimations of the genocide, through the creation of Israel and the occupation of Palestine, and up to our own time, critically assessing the political and historical context for these responses.
Achcar offers a unique ideological mapping of the Arab world, in the process defusing an international propaganda war that has become a major stumbling block in the path of Arab–Western understanding.
The Construction of Modern National Consciousness
By Rashid Khalidi
Rashid Khalidi sets out to study the emergence of Palestinian nationalism at the dawn of the 20th century. He explores the early cultural beginnings of Palestinian identity, which precede the encounter with Zionism, and studies the different developments of Palestinian identity in light of that encounter. Whereas a large number of accounts stress that Palestinian identity developed exclusively as a result of the encounter with colonial Zionism, Khalidi sets the record straight. In line with predominant theories of nationalism, Khalidi demonstrates that national identities are defined in relation to an other. Palestine identity, which as early as 1701 manifested itself against a hostile European Christianity, remained Jerusalem-centered until the beginning of the 20th century. That is when a modern Palestinian nationalism was emerging, before the encounter with British colonialism and Zionist settler colonialism changed the configuration of both the Palestinian self and its other. Khalidi charts the changes in the forms of knowledge that the Palestinian intelligentsia was acquiring in the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries, noting the shift from Islamic studies to modern social science and the humanities. Through an inventory of Palestinian libraries, Khalidi carefully chronicles these changes in forms of knowledge, correlating them with the new and emerging political ideas in the country.
The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine
A History of Settler Colonialism and Resistance, 1917–2017
By Rashid Khalidi
In 1899, Yusuf Diya al-Khalidi, mayor of Jerusalem, alarmed by the Zionist call to create a Jewish national home in Palestine, wrote a letter aimed at Theodore Herzl: the country had an indigenous people who would not easily accept their own displacement. He warned of the perils ahead, ending his note, “in the name of God, let Palestine be left alone.” Thus Rashid Khalidi, al-Khalidi’s great-great-nephew, begins this sweeping history, the first general account of the conflict told from an explicitly Palestinian perspective.
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 victimization, 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.
Zionism and its Discontents
A Century of Radical Dissent in Israel/Palestine
By Ran Greenstein
Mainstream nationalist narratives and political movements have dominated the Israeli-Palestinian situation for too long. In this much-needed book, Ran Greenstein challenges this hegemony by focusing on four different, but at the same time connected, attempts which stood up to Zionist dominance and the settlement project before and after 1948.
Greenstein begins by addressing the role of the Palestinian Communist Party, and then the bi-nationalist movement, before moving on to the period after 1948 when Palestinian attempts to challenge their unjust conditions of marginalisation became more frequent. Finally, he confronts the radical anti-Zionist Matzpen group, which operated from the early 1960s-80s.
In addition to analyses of the shifting positions of these movements, Greenstein examines perspectives regarding a set of conceptual issues: colonialism and settlement, race/ethnicity and class, and questions of identity, rights and power, and how, such as in the case of South Africa, these relations should be seen as global.
The Right to Maim
By Jasbir K. Puar
In The Right to Maim Jasbir K. Puar brings her pathbreaking work on the liberal state, sexuality, and biopolitics to bear on our understanding of disability. Drawing on a stunning array of theoretical and methodological frameworks, Puar uses the concept of “debility”—bodily injury and social exclusion brought on by economic and political factors—to disrupt the category of disability. She shows how debility, disability, and capacity together constitute an assemblage that states use to control populations. Puar’s analysis culminates in an interrogation of Israel’s policies toward Palestine, in which she outlines how Israel brings Palestinians into biopolitical being by designating them available for injury. Supplementing its right to kill with what Puar calls the right to maim, the Israeli state relies on liberal frameworks of disability to obscure and enable the mass debilitation of Palestinian bodies. Tracing disability’s interaction with debility and capacity, Puar offers a brilliant rethinking of Foucauldian biopolitics while showing how disability functions at the intersection of imperialism and racialized capital.
Beyond the Two-State Solution
A Jewish Political Essay
By Yehouda Shenhav
For over two decades, many liberals in Israel have attempted, with wide international support, to implement the two-state solution: Israel and Palestine, partitioned on the basis of the Green Line – that is, the line drawn by the 1949 Armistice Agreements that defined Israel’s borders until 1967, before Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza following the Six-Day War. By going back to Israel’s pre-1967 borders, many people hope to restore Israel to what they imagine was its pristine, pre-occupation character and to provide a solid basis for a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In this original and controversial essay, Yehouda Shenhav argues that this vision is an illusion that ignores historical realities and offers no long-term solution. It fails to see that the real problem is that a state was created in most of Palestine in 1948 in which Jews are the privileged ethnic group, at the expense of the Palestinians – who also must live under a constant state of emergency. The issue will not be resolved by the two-state solution, which will do little for the millions of Palestinian refugees and will also require the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of Jews living across the Green Line. All these obstacles require a bolder rethinking of the issues: the Green Line should be abandoned and a new type of polity created on the complete territory of mandatory Palestine, with a new set of constitutional arrangements that address the rights of both Palestinians and Jews, including the settlers.
Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems
By Mahmoud Darwish
Mahmoud Darwish is a literary rarity: at once critically acclaimed as one of the most important poets in the Arabic language, and beloved as the voice of his people. A legend in Palestine, his lyrics are sung by fieldworkers and schoolchildren. He has assimilated some of the world’s oldest literary traditions while simultaneously struggling to open new possibilities for poetry. This collection spans Darwish’s entire career, nearly four decades, revealing an impressive range of expression and form. A splendid team of translators has collaborated with the poet on these new translations, which capture Darwish’s distinctive voice and spirit. Fady Joudah’s foreword, new to this edition, addresses Darwish’s enduring legacy following his death in 2008.
Hebrew Literature and the 1948 War
By Hannan Hever
Hebrew Literature and the 1948 War: Essays on Philology and Responsibility is the first book-length study that examines the conspicuous absence of the Palestinian Nakba in modern Hebrew literature. Through a rigorous reading of canonical Hebrew literary texts, the author addresses the general failure of Hebrew literature to take responsibility for the Nakba. The book illustrates how the language of modern Hebrew poetry and fiction reflects symptoms of Israeli national violence, in which the literary language produces a picture of Palestine as an arena where the violent clash between the perpetrators and the victims takes place. In doing so, the author develops a new and critical paradigm for reflecting on the moral responsibility of literature and the ethics of reading. The book includes close readings of the works of Avot Yeshurun, S. Yizhar, Nathan Alterman, Yehuda Amichai, Yitzhak Laor, and Amos Oz, among others.
What Must Be Forgotten
The Survival of Yiddish in Zionist Palestine
By Yael Chaver
As Zionism took root in Palestine, European Yiddish was employed within a dominant Hebrew context. A complex relationship between cultural politics and Jewish writing ensued that paved the way for modern Israeli culture. This enlightening volume reveals a previously unrecognized, alternative literature that flourished vigorously without legitimacy. Significant examples discussed include ethnically ambiguous fiction of Zalmen Brokhes, minority-oriented works of Avrom Rivess, and culturally pluralistic poetry by Rikuda Potash. The remote locales of these writers, coupled with the exuberant expressiveness of Yiddish, led to unique perceptions of Zionist endeavors in the Yishuv.
Using rare archival material and personal interviews, What Must Be Forgotten unearths dimensions largely neglected in mainstream books on Yiddish and/or Hebrew studies.
The Palestine Communist Party 1919-1948
Arab and Jew in the Struggle for Internationalism
by Musa Budeiri
This history of the Palestinian Communist Party upends the caricature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an ancient religious blood feud. Musa Budeiri shows how the complex history of the Palestinian Left before the Zionist destruction of historic Palestine was defined by secularism and solidarity between Arab and Jewish workers. With a new introduction and afterword by the author.
Israel and Palestine
Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations
by Avi Shlaim
Avi Shlaim, one of the world’s foremost experts on the Israel–Palestine conflict, reflects with characteristic rigour and readability on a range of key issues and personalities. From the 1917 Balfour Declaration to the failure of the Oslo peace process, from the 1948 War to the 2008 invasion of Gaza, Israel and Palestine places current events in their proper historical perspective. It assesses the impact of key political and intellectual figures, including Yasir Arafat and Ariel Sharon, Edward Said and Benny Morris. It also re-examines the United States’ influential role in the conflict, and explores the many missed opportunities for peace and progress in the region.
Clear-eyed and meticulous, Israel and Palestine is an essential tool for understanding the fractured history and future prospects of Israel-Palestine.
This is Not a Border
Reportage & Reflection from the Palestine Festival of Literature
Edited by Ahdaf Soueif & Omar Robert Hamilton
The Palestine Festival of Literature was established in 2008 by authors Ahdaf Soueif, Brigid Keenan, and Omar Robert Hamilton. Bringing writers to the nation from all corners of the globe, it aimed to break the cultural siege imposed by the Israeli military occupation, to strengthen artistic links with the rest of the world, and to reaffirm, in the words of Edward Said, “the power of culture over the culture of power.”
Celebrating the tenth anniversary of PalFest, Annexe is a collection of essays, poems, and sketches from some of the world’s most distinguished artists, responding to their experiences at this unique festival. Both heartbreaking and hopeful, their gathered work is a testament to the power of literature to promote solidarity and hope in the most desperate of situations.
Contributing authors include J. M. Coetzee, China Mieville, Alice Walker, Geoff Dyer, Claire Messud, Henning Mankell, Michael Ondaatje, Kamila Shamsie, Michael Palin, Deborah Moggach, Mohammed Hanif, Richard Ford, Gillian Slovo, Adam Foulds, Susan Abulhawa, Ahdaf Soueif, Jeremy Harding, Brigid Keenan, Rachel Holmes, Suad Amiry, Gary Younge, Jamal Mahjoub, Molly Crabapple, Najwan Darwish, Nathalie Handal, Omar Robert Hamilton, Pankaj Mishra, Raja Shehadeh, Selma Dabbagh, William Sutcliffe, Atef Abu Saif, Yasmin El-Rifae, Sabrina Mahfouz, Alaa Abd El Fattah, Mercedes Kemp, Ru Freeman
Palestinian Women’s Anti-Colonial Struggle within the Israeli Prison System
By Nahla Abdo
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 their appalling treatment as political detainees.
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.
Palestine: A Socialist Introduction
Edited by Sumaya Awad & Brian Bean
This edited volume makes an impassioned and informed case for the central place of Palestine in socialist organizing and of socialism in the struggle to free Palestine.
Palestine: A Socialist Introduction systematically tackles a number of important aspects of the Palestinian struggle for liberation, contextualizing it in an increasingly polarized world and offering a socialist perspective on how full liberation can be won.
Through an internationalist, anti-imperialist lens, this book explores the links between the struggle for freedom in the United States and that in Palestine, and beyond. It examines both the historical and contemporary trajectory of the Palestine solidarity movement in order to glean lessons for today’s organizers, and compellingly lays out the argument that, in order to achieve justice in Palestine, the movement has to take up the question of socialism regionally and internationally.
Contributors include: Jehad Abusalim, Shireen Akram-Boshar, Omar Barghouti, Nada Elia, Toufic Haddad, Omar Hassan, Remi Kanazi, Annie Levin, Mostafa Omar, Khury Petersen-Smith, and Daphna Thier.
The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine
by Ilan Pappé
Since the Holocaust, it has been almost impossible to hide large-scale crimes against humanity. In our communicative world, few modern catastrophes are concealed from the public eye. And yet, Ilan Pappe unveils, one such crime has been erased from the global public memory: the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948. But why is it denied, and by whom? The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine offers an investigation of this mystery.
by Joe Sacco
Prior to Safe Area Gorazde: The War In Eastern Bosnia 1992-1995—Joe Sacco’s breakthrough novel of graphic journalism—the acclaimed author was best known for Palestine, a two-volume graphic novel that won an American Book Award in 1996.
Fantagraphics Books is pleased to present the first single-volume collection of this landmark of journalism and the art form of comics.
Based on several months of research and an extended visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the early 1990s (where he conducted over 100 interviews with Palestinians and Jews), Palestine was the first major comics work of political and historical nonfiction by Sacco, whose name has since become synonymous with this graphic form of New Journalism. Like Safe Area Gorazde, Palestine has been favorably compared to Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus for its ability to brilliantly navigate such socially and politically sensitive subject matter within the confines of the comic book medium.
Sacco has often been called the first comic book journalist, and he is certainly the best. This edition of Palestine also features an introduction from renowned author, critic, and historian Edward Said (Peace and Its Discontents and The Question of Palestine), one of the world’s most respected authorities on the Middle Eastern conflict.
Polarized and demobilized legacies of authoritarianism in Palestine
by Dana El Kurd
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 polarized and demobilized.
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 demobilized 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 polarization and a weakened capacity for collective action.
Nakba: Palestine, 1948, and the Claims of Memory
Edited by Ahmad h. Sa’di & Lila Abu-Lughod
For outside observers, current events in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank are seldom related to the collective memory of ordinary Palestinians. But for Palestinians themselves, the iniquities of the present are experienced as a continuous replay of the injustice of the past.
By focusing on memories of the Nakba or “catastrophe” of 1948, in which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were dispossessed to create the state of Israel, the contributors to this volume illuminate the contemporary Palestinian experience and clarify the moral claims they make for justice and redress.
The book’s essays consider the ways in which Palestinians have remembered and organized themselves around the Nakba, a central trauma that continues to be refracted through Palestinian personal and collective memory. Analyzing oral histories and written narratives, poetry and cinema, personal testimony and courtroom evidence, the authors show how the continuing experience of violence, displacement, and occupation have transformed the pre-Nakba past and the land of Palestine into symbols of what has been and continues to be lost.
Nakba brings to light the different ways in which Palestinians experienced and retain in memory the events of 1948. It is the first book to examine in detail how memories of Palestine’s cataclysmic past are shaped by differences of class, gender, generation, and geographical location. In exploring the power of the past, the authors show the urgency of the question of memory for understanding the contested history of the present.
Contributors: Lila Abu Lughod, Columbia University; Diana Keown Allan, Harvard University; Haim Bresheeth, University of East London; Rochelle Davis, Georgetown University; Samera Esmeir, University of California, Berkeley; Isabelle Humphries, University of Surrey; Lena Jayyusi, Zayed University; Laleh Khalili, SOAS, University of London; Omar Al-Qattan, filmmaker; Ahmad H. Sa’di, Ben-Gurion University; Rosemary Sayigh, Lebanon-based anthropologist; Susan Slyomovics, University of California, Los Angeles
Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution
by Nadia Yaqub
Palestinian cinema arose during the political cinema movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, yet it was unique as an institutionalized, though modest, film effort within the national liberation campaign of a stateless people. Filmmakers working within the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and through other channels filmed the revolution as it unfolded, including the Israeli bombings of Palestinian refugee camps, the Jordanian and Lebanese civil wars, and Palestinian life under Israeli occupation, attempting to create a cinematic language consonant with the revolution and its needs. They experimented with form both to make effective use of limited material and to process violent events and loss as a means of sustaining active engagement in the Palestinian political project. Palestinian Cinema in the Days of Revolution presents an in-depth study of films made between 1968 and 1982, the filmmakers and their practices, the political and cultural contexts in which the films were created and seen, and their afterlives among Palestinian refugees and young filmmakers in the twenty-first century. Nadia Yaqub discusses how early Palestinian cinema operated within emerging public-sector cinema industries in the Arab world, as well as through coproductions and solidarity networks. Her findings aid in understanding the development of alternative cinema in the Arab world. Yaqub also demonstrates that Palestinian filmmaking, as a cinema movement created and sustained under conditions of extraordinary precarity, offers important lessons on the nature and possibilities of political filmmaking more generally.
The Revolution Within: State Institutions and Unarmed Resistance in Palestine
by Yael Zeira
Why do some individuals participate in risky, anti-regime resistance whereas others abstain? The Revolution Within answers this question through an in-depth study of unarmed resistance against Israeli rule in the Palestinian Territories over more than a decade. Despite having strong anti-regime sentiment, Palestinians initially lacked the internal organizational strength often seen as necessary for protest. This book provides a foundation for understanding participation and mobilization under these difficult conditions. It argues that, under these conditions, integration into state institutions – schools, prisons and courts – paradoxically makes individuals more likely to resist against the state. Diverse evidence drawn from field research – including the first, large-scale survey of participants and non-participants in Palestinian resistance, Arabic language interviews, and archival sources – supports the argument. The book’s findings explain how anti-regime resistance can occur even without the strong civil society organizations often regarded as necessary for protest and, thus, suggest new avenues for supporting civil resistance movements.