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.
Presented in the following categories on individual pages:
• About/By Palestinian Christians
• Religion; The Bible; Christian Zionism
• Personal Histories: Memoirs, Autobiographies
• Political Analysis; Diplomatic History
• The Current Situation
• Activism; Resistance; Solidarity; Intersectional Justice
• Novels; Short Stories; Poetry
• About Palestinians inside Israel
• Zionism; Jewish Identity
• Faith Relations; Anti-Semitism
• Visual Arts; Crafts (poetry moved to new list)
• Tourism; The Politics of Tourism
• Children’s Books
Please note: some books are listed in more than one category.
Please send us your suggestions for additions to these lists; contact us at [email protected].
The order of the books within each category is random and is not related to the importance of the work.
Zionism Unsettled: A Congregational Study Guide
From the Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),
What role have Zionism and Christian Zionism played in shaping attitudes and driving historical developments in the Middle East and around the world? 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.
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.
The Invention of the Jewish People
By Shlomo Sand
A historical tour de force that demolishes the myths and taboos that have surrounded Jewish and Israeli history, The Invention of the Jewish People offers a new account of both that demands to be read and reckoned with. Was there really a forced exile in the first century, at the hands of the Romans? Should we regard the Jewish people, throughout two millennia, as both a distinct ethnic group and a putative nation—returned at last to its Biblical homeland?
Shlomo Sand argues that most Jews actually descend from converts, whose native lands were scattered far across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The formation of a Jewish people and then a Jewish nation out of these disparate groups could only take place under the sway of a new historiography, developing in response to the rise of nationalism throughout Europe. Beneath the biblical back fill of the nineteenth-century historians, and the twentieth-century intellectuals who replaced rabbis as the architects of Jewish identity, The Invention of the Jewish People uncovers a new narrative of Israel’s formation, and proposes a bold analysis of nationalism that accounts for the old myths.
After a long stay on Israel’s bestseller list, and after winning the coveted Aujourdhui Award in France, The Invention of the Jewish People is finally available in English. The central importance of the conflict in the Middle East ensures that Sand’s arguments will reverberate well beyond the historians and politicians that he takes to task. Without an adequate understanding of Israel’s past, capable of superseding today’s opposing views, diplomatic solutions are likely to remain elusive. In this iconoclastic work of history, Shlomo Sand provides the intellectual foundations for a new vision of Israel’s future.
“Israel’s Declaration of Independence states that the Jewish people arose in the Land of Israel and was exiled from its homeland. Every Israeli schoolchild is taught that this happened during the period of the Roman rile, in 70 CE. The nation remained loyal to its land, to which it began to return after two millennia of exile. Wrong, says the historian Shlomo Sand, in one of the most fascinating and challenging books published here in a long time. There was never a Jewish people, only a Jewish religion, and the exile also never happened—hence there was no return.”
—Tom Segev, Haaretz
“The reader will have understood the message: what this well-documented and fearless book explodes is the myth of a unique Jewish people, miraculously preserved, in contrast to all the other peoples, from external contamination … [Sand’s] conclusions, which are prudently formulated, nonetheless lead one towards a sole solution: the construction of a secular and democratic Israel.”
—Jacques Julliard, Le Nouvel Observateur
“Shlomo Sand has written a remarkable book … Anyone interested in understanding the contemporary Middle East should read it.”
—Tony Judt, author of Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945
“The Invention of the Jewish People is an indispensable challenge and a very complex intellectual exercise … a more secure society [than Israel] would include the book in the core curriculum of its school system.”
—Avraham Burg, former Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, Yedioth Ahronoth
The State of Israel vs. the Jews
By Sylvain Cypel
From an award-winning journalist, a perceptive study of how Israel’s actions, which run counter to the traditional historical values of Judaism, are putting Jewish people worldwide in an increasingly untenable position.
More than a decade ago, the historian Tony Judt considered whether the behavior of Israel was becoming not only “bad for Israel itself” but also, on a wider scale, “bad for the Jews.” Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu, this issue has grown ever more urgent. In The State of Israel vs. the Jews, veteran journalist Sylvain Cypel addresses it in depth, exploring Israel’s rightward shift on the international scene and with regard to the diaspora.
Cypel reviews the little-known details of the military occupation of Palestinian territory, the mindset of ethnic superiority that reigns throughout an Israeli “colonial camp” that is largely in the majority, and the adoption of new laws, the most serious of which establishes two-tier citizenship between Jews and non-Jews. He shows how Israel has aligned itself with authoritarian regimes and adopted the practices of a security state, including the use of technologies such as the software that enabled the tracking and, ultimately, the assassination of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Lastly, The State of Israel vs. the Jews examines the impact of Israel’s evolution in recent years on the two main communities of the Jewish diaspora, in France and the United States, considering how and why public figures in each differ in their approaches.
“In a book that is carefully documented yet burns with moral outrage, veteran French journalist Sylvain Cypel reflects on the growing divide between Israel and the Jewish diaspora in both France and the U.S. Composed with the general reader in mind, this is a superb summary of the current impasse.”
—Peter E. Gordon, Harvard University
“The content of Sylvain Cypel’s new book, The State of Israel vs. the Jews, is as stunning as the title. A distinguished journalist at the top of his profession, Cypel documents the systematic injustice that Israel perpetrates against Palestinians. Ultimately, he shows that Israel is (in the words of the late Tony Judt) ‘bad for the Jews’: Jews in Israel and elsewhere in the world. Israel is ‘bad for the Jews’ precisely to the extent that it is ruinous for the Palestinians. This original angle makes The State of Israel vs. the Jews stand out in the vast literature on Israel-Palestine. Cypel, moreover, writes as an insider: a Jew who lived in Israel for twelve years and studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Holding a mirror up to reality, denouncing injustice, Cypel is an exponent of an ancient Jewish art that began with Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and the other Hebrew prophets: iconoclasts who shattered the false self-images of their contemporaries.”
—Dr. Brian Klug, Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy, St. Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford, and author of Being Jewish and Doing Justice: Bringing Argument to Life
“Alarmed, angry, and appalled, Sylvain Cypel accurately and succinctly describes an Israel that, if it were not Jewish, would have reminded all Diaspora Jews of regimes they suffered and fled from.”
—Amira Hass, Haaretz correspondent in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
“Cypel offers an unflinching and unrelenting survey of the many ways in which the occupation occupied Israel, and Israel repeatedly chose the occupation over the Jews of the diaspora.”
—Gershon Shafir, Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego, and author of A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict
Palestinians The Invisible Victims: Political Zionism and the Roots of Palestinian Dispossession
By James Zogby
This story of how Political Zionism dealt with the Palestinian people is not ancient history. Rather, it sets the stage for what’s happening in Palestine today and it helps us better understand both Israel’s systematic efforts to dispossess the Palestinian people of their land and rights, and the West’s continued failure to address the continued violations of Palestinian human rights. Palestinians remain invisible–their personal stories ignored–or they were objectified and seen merely as a problem to be solved in order to ensure Israel’s security.
From the Foreword:
“Written in 1975 as a paper for the Association of Arab-American University Graduates, it is an incisive record of what a powerful ideology did to both Palestinians and Jews. “Six decades of intense Zionist ideology and practice—which is at its core anti-Arab and racist—have left their mark upon the psyche of the Jewish people of Israel,” he wrote 43 years ago, in words that we hear ringing to this day.
That’s why it was important for us to publish this paper. It anticipates so much of the understanding of Israel and Zionism that is gaining currency only now in progressive circles. Back in 1975, Zogby recognized that Zionism was a “settler colonialist” project, a view that has gained traction in the left in the last few years.
—Philip Weiss, founder of Mondoweiss
Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism: Stories of Personal Transformation
Carolyn L. Karcher (Editor)
Personal narratives by forty Jewish activists and scholars.
Today Jews face a choice. We can be loyal to the ethical imperatives at the heart of Judaism—love the stranger, pursue justice, and repair the world. Or we can give our unconditional support to the state of Israel. It is a choice between Judaism as a religion and the nationalist ideology of Zionism, which is usurping that religion. In this powerful collection of personal narratives, thirty-nine Jews of diverse backgrounds tell a wide range of stories about the roads they have traveled from a Zionist world view to activism in solidarity with Palestinians and Israelis striving to build an inclusive society founded on justice, equality, and peaceful coexistence.
Reclaiming Judaism from Zionism will be controversial. Its contributors welcome the long overdue public debate. They want to demolish stereotypes of dissenting Jews as “self-hating,” traitorous, and anti-Semitic. They want to introduce readers to the large and growing community of Jewish activists who have created organizations such as Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow, and Open Hillel. They want to strengthen alliances with progressives of all faiths. Above all, they want to nurture models of Jewish identity that replace ethnic exclusiveness with solidarity, Zionism with a Judaism once again nourished by a transcendent ethical vision.
An introduction and afterword by Carolyn L. Karcher set the narratives in historical context.
Contributors include: Joel Beinin • Sami Shalom Chetrit • Ilise Benshushan Cohen • Marjorie Cohn • Rabbi and Cantor Michael Davis • Hasia R. Diner • Marjorie N. Feld • Chris Godshall • Ariel Gold • Noah Habeeb • Claris Harbon • Linda Hess • Rabbi Linda Holtzman • Yael Horowitz • Carolyn L. Karcher • Mira Klein • Sydney Levy • Ben Lorber • Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber • Carly Manes • Moriah Ella Mason • Seth Morrison • Eliza Rose Moss-Horwitz • Hilton Obenzinger • Henri Picciotto • Ned Rosch • Rabbi Brant Rosen • Alice Rothchild • Tali Ruskin • Cathy Lisa Schneider • Natalia Dubno Shevin • Ella Shohat • Emily Siegel • Rebecca Subar • Cecilie Surasky • Rebecca Vilkomerson • Rachel Winsberg • Rabbi Alissa Wise • Charlie Wood
“These powerful stories send a message about the resilience and passion of a courageous group of Jews who have come to the realization that the state of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians does not live up to the ethical standards Jewish tradition demands. Taken together, their words challenge the idea that Judaism and Zionism are inseparable. Their commitment to live a Jewish life without Zionism bodes well for the future of Judaism.”
—Rebecca T. Alpert, Professor of Religion, Temple University
“Carolyn L. Karcher has superbly edited a fascinating collection of autobiographical essays describing how devout American Jews disentangled themselves from the distortions of Zionism. In the process they recovered their authentic religiously and ethnically framed identities. Required reading for Jews, and engaging reading for everyone.”
—Richard Falk, Milbank Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University
A Land With a People: Palestinians and Jews Confront Zionism
Esther Farmer, Rosalind Pollack Petchesky, and Sarah Sills (Editors)
A Land With a People is a book of stories, photographs and poetry which elevates rarely heard Palestinian and Jewish voices and visions. Eloquently framed with a foreword by the dynamic Palestinian legal scholar and activist, Noura Erakat, this book began as a storytelling project of Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City and subsequently transformed into a theater project performed throughout the New York City area.
Stories touch hearts, open minds, and transform our understanding of the “other”―as well as our comprehension of own roles and responsibilities― and A Land With a People emerges from this reckoning. It brings us the narratives of secular, Muslim, Christian, and queer Palestinians who endure the particular brand of settler colonialism known as Zionism. It relays the transformational journeys of Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, queer, and Palestinian Jews who have come to reject the received Zionist narrative. Unflinching in their confrontation of the power dynamics that underlie their transformation process, these writers find the courage to face what has happened to historic Palestine, and to their own families as a result. Contextualized by a detailed historical introduction and timeline charting 150 years of Palestinian and Jewish resistance to Zionism, this collection will stir emotions, provoke fresh thinking, and point to a more hopeful, loving future―one in which Palestine/Israel is seen for what it is in its entirety, as well as for what it can be.
“This book is an invaluable resource in the effort to challenge the dangerous conflation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism, meant to silence criticism of Israel. A Land With a People also helps in understanding that the existential struggle against a racist, settler-colonial system, can, and must, be undertaken by Palestinians and Jews together.”
—Huwaida Arraf, human rights attorney and co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement