Books: Zionism; Jewish Identity


Scroll down to see the books in this category.

These collections of books have been assembled from many sources of recommended reading on Israel/Palestine, including: the United Church of Christ (UCC) and UCC PIN, Sabeel, Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JFJFP) and others. Many of the book descriptions are taken from Amazon.com; some come from the source of that book recommendation.

Presented in the following categories on individual pages:
About/By Palestinian Christians
Religion; The Bible; Christian Zionism
History
Personal Histories: Memoirs, Autobiographies, Novels
Political Analysis; Diplomatic History
The Current Situation
About Palestinians inside Israel
Zionism; Jewish Identity
Faith Relations; Anti-Semitism
Art; Illustration; Poetry
Tourism; The Politics of Tourism
Please note: some books are listed in more than one category.
The order of the books within each category is random and is not related to the importance of the work.

Please send us your suggestions for additions to these lists; contact us at info@palestineportal.org.

Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide
What role have Zionism and Christian Zionism played in shaping attitudes and driving historical developments in the Middle East and around the world? From IPMN of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), this booklet and companion video episodes draw together compelling and diverse viewpoints from Jews, Muslims, and Christians in Israel, Palestine, the US, and around the globe. By contrasting mainstream perceptions with important alternative perspectives frequently ignored in the media, Zionism Unsettled is an invaluable guide to deeper understanding. Includes materials to order and some that can be downloaded online. See it at the website of IPMN
.
There are accompanying video episodes for the study guide which are available for viewing and download on the IPMN Vimeo Channel: https://vimeo.com/channels/zuepisodes


Wrestling in the Daylight: A Rabbi’s Path to Palestinian Solidarity by Rabbi Brant Rosen (2017)
Wrestling in the Daylight is an insightful conversation on Zionism initiated by Rabbi Brant Rosen, a prominent Jewish activist from Chicago, on his social-justice blog Shalom Rav. After Israel’s brutal military attack on Gaza in 2008-2009, Rosen began to question his lifelong Zionist beliefs. Unlike the biblical Jacob, who wrestled with his conscience in the dark of night, Rosen chose to “wrestle in the daylight” with this issue through many thoughtful essays on his blog. In this selection of content from Shalom Rav, Rosen includes both his own posts and those of his online commenters, granting readers unique insight into the largest controversy facing the American Jewish community today. In the new introduction he has written for this second edition, Rosen updates the story of the “wrestling” that both he and the American Jewish community have undertaken in recent years.


How I Stopped Being A Jew, by Shlomo Sand
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.


Elvis in Jerusalem: Post-Zionism and the Americanization of Israel, by Tom Segev
As the Middle East conflict enters its most violent phase, Tom Segev offers a lively, contentious polemic against cherished and rigid notions of Israel’s national unity and culture. In his many works of history, Tom Segev has challenged the entrenched understanding of crucial moments in Israel’s past. Now, in a short, sharp, polemical book, Segev has turned his sights from Israeli history to confront some revered assumptions about the country today.Drawing on personal experience as well as all kinds of artifacts from Israeli popular culture — shopping malls, fast food, public art, television, religious kitsch — Segev offers a controversial point of view: the sweeping Americanization of the country, rued by most, has had an extraordinarily beneficial influence, bringing not only McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts but the virtues of pragmatism, tolerance, and individualism. And, in the fierce battle over the future of Zionism, Segev welcomes the diffusion of national identity and ideology that has taken place in the last decade as a harbinger of a new spirit of compromise and openness.


The Hebrew Republic, by Bernard Avishai
Political economist Bernard Avishai has been writing and thinking about Israel since moving there to volunteer during the 1967 War. now he synthesizes his years of study and searching into a short, urgent polemic that posits that the country must become a more complete democracy if it has any chance for a peaceful future. He explores the connection between Israel’s democratic crisis and the problems besetting the nation—the expansion of settlements, the alienation of Israeli Arabs, and the exploding ultraorthodox population. He also makes an intriguing case for Israel’s new global enterprises to change the country’s future for the better. With every year, peace in Israel seems to recede further into the distance, while Israeli arts and businesses advance. This contradiction cannot endure much longer. But in cutting through the inflammatory arguments of partisans on all sides, Avishai offers something even more enticing than pragmatic solutions—he offers hope.


Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict, by Norman Finkelstein (2003)
This acclaimed study surveys the dominant popular and scholarly images of the Israel–Palestine conflict. Finkelstein opens with a theoretical discussion of Zionism, locating it as a romantic form of nationalism that assumed the bankruptcy of liberal democracy. He goes on to look at the demographic origins of the Palestinians, with particular reference to the work of Joan Peters, and develops critiques of the influential studies of both Benny Morris and Anita Shapira. Reviewing the diplomatic history with Aban Eban‘s oeuvre as his foil, Finkelstein closes by demonstrating that the casting of Israel as the innocent victim of Arab aggression in the June 1967 and October 1973 wars is not supported by the documentary record.


The Crisis of Zionism, by Peter Beinart
Israel’s next great crisis may come not with the Palestinians or Iran but with young American Jews. A dramatic shift is taking place in Israel and America. In Israel, the deepening occupation of the West Bank is putting Israeli democracy at risk. In the United States, the refusal of major Jewish organizations to defend democracy in the Jewish state is alienating many young liberal Jews from Zionism itself. In the next generation, the liberal Zionist dream—the dream of a state that safeguards the Jewish people and cherishes democratic ideals—may die. In The Crisis of Zionism, Peter Beinart lays out in chilling detail the looming danger to Israeli democracy and the American Jewish establishment’s refusal to confront it. And he offers a fascinating, groundbreaking portrait of the two leaders at the center of the crisis: Barack Obama, America’s first “Jewish president,” a man steeped in the liberalism he learned from his many Jewish friends and mentors in Chicago; and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister who considers liberalism the Jewish people’s special curse. These two men embody fundamentally different visions not just of American and Israeli national interests but of the mission of the Jewish people itself. Beinart concludes with provocative proposals for how the relationship between American Jews and Israel must change, and with an eloquent and moving appeal for American Jews to defend the dream of a democratic Jewish state before it is too late.


Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish romance with Israel is coming to an end, by Norman Finkelstein
Traditionally, American Jews have been broadly liberal in their political outlook; indeed African-Americans are the only ethnic group more likely to vote Democratic in US elections. Over the past half century, however, attitudes on one topic have stood in sharp contrast to this group’s generally progressive stance: support for Israel. Despite Israel’s record of militarism, illegal settlements and human rights violations, American Jews have, stretching back to the 1960s, remained largely steadfast supporters of the Jewish “homeland.” But, as Norman Finkelstein explains in an elegantly-argued and richly-textured new book, this is now beginning to change.
Reports by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations, and books by commentators as prominent as President Jimmy Carter and as well-respected in the scholarly community as Stephen Walt, John Mearsheimer and Peter Beinart, have increasingly pinpointed the fundamental illiberalism of the Israeli state. In the light of these exposes, the support of America Jews for Israel has begun to fray. This erosion has been particularly marked among younger members of the community. A 2010 Brandeis University poll found that only about one quarter of Jews aged under 40 today feel “very much” connected to Israel.
In successive chapters that combine Finkelstein’s customary meticulous research with polemical brio, Knowing Too Much sets the work of defenders of Israel such as Jeffrey Goldberg, Michael Oren, Dennis Ross and Benny Morris against the historical record, showing their claims to be increasingly tendentious. As growing numbers of American Jews come to see the speciousness of the arguments behind such apologias and recognize Israel’s record as simply indefensible, Finkelstein points to the opening of new possibilities for political advancement in a region that for decades has been stuck fast in a gridlock of injustice and suffering.


Overcoming Zionism, by Joel Kovel
This book is absolutely fundamental for those who reject the unfortunate confusion between Jews, Judaism, Zionism and the State of Israel — a confusion which is the basis for systematic manipulation by the imperialist power system. It convincingly argues in favour of a single secular state for Israelis and Palestinians as the only democratic solution for the region. Zionism creates a terrible contradiction that eats away at the soul and conscience of the Jewish people. The problem is that you can’t have a democratic state for just one people while excluding the others. It is just a logical impossibility. The notion of democracy derives from universal ideals based on universal human rights; it cannot exist where there is a systematic inequality, and all the more so when these others are those who have been dispossessed by Zionism.


The Wrath of Jonah: The Crisis of Religious Nationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, by Rosemary Radford Ruether and Herman Ruether
The wrenching situation in the Middle East, recent events have shown, is as complex as it is volatile. In this immenselsy learned and clarifying volume-here updated and issued in paper for the first time-the Ruethers trace the tortured and contested history of Israel/Palestine from biblical times through the Diaspora, the development of Zionism, the creation of the modern state of Israel, and the subsequent conflict with Arab and Palestinian nationalism. Magisterial in its grasp of the historical, political, economic, and religious roots of the conflict, The Wrath of Jonah also offers convincing analysis of the moral and political dilemmas facing Israelis and Palestinians today. Though they see possibilities for peace, the Ruethers are forthright about what they and others see as Israel’s betrayal of its own original mandate. Their purpose, state the Ruethers, “continues to be to make a modest contribution to truthful historical accountability that must underlie the quest for justice, without which there can be no ‘peace.'”


The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering, by Norman Finkelstein
It was not until the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, when Israel’s evident strength brought it into line with US foreign policy, that memory of the Holocaust began to acquire the exceptional prominence it enjoys today. Leaders of America’s Jewish community were delighted that Israel was now deemed a major strategic asset and, Finkelstein contends, exploited the Holocaust to enhance this new-found status. Their subsequent interpretations of the tragedy are often at variance with actual historical events and are employed to deflect any criticism of Israel and its supporters. Finkelstein contends that the main danger posed to the memory of Nazism’s victims comes not from the distortions of Holocaust deniers but from prominent, self-proclaimed guardians of Holocaust memory. Drawing on a wealth of untapped sources, he exposes the double shakedown of European countries as well as legitimate Jewish claimants, and concludes that the Holocaust industry has become an outright extortion racket. Thoroughly researched and closely argued, The Holocaust Industry is all the more disturbing and powerful because the issues it deals with are so rarely discussed.