Jerusalem
Oil on Canvas

Gabriel Cohen

Michael Hittleman Gallery





Voices of Israel and Palestine - bibliography



Karen Armstrong
JERUSALEM - One City, Three Faiths
1996

A history of Jerusalem from ancient times through the present.

Fighting broke out in Palestine almost immediately after the passing of the UN resolution. On 2 December an Arab mob streamed through the Jaffa Gate and looted the Jewish commercial center on Ben Yehuda Street, Irgun retaliated by attacking the Arab suburbs of Katamon and Sheikh Jarrah. By March 1948, 70 Jews and 230 Arabs had been killed in the fighting around Jerusalem, even before the official expiration of the British Mandate. ...On 10 April the war entered a new phase when the Irgun attacked the Arab village of Deir Yassin, three miles to the west of Jerusalem: 250 men, women and children were massacred and their bodies mutilated.

Before the departure of the British on 15 May 1948, the Irgun attacked Jaffa and the specter of Deir Yassin caused the seventy thousand Arab inhabitants of the city to flee. It marked the beginning of the Palestinians' exodus from their country.



Bruno Bettelheim
THE CHILDREN OF THE DREAM
1969

A psychologist looks at kibbutz child-rearing practices.

Kibbutzniks have never been more than a tin minority in Israel. Nevertheless they have played a critical role there, both as idea and reality, out of all proportion to their numbers.

Were it not for the kibbutz dream of a better society, there would be nothing unique left about Israel.

— Quoting S. Diamond: Indeed, we would contend that the communal ining hall is the heart of the collective. Should it be abandoned, the kibbutz would, viewed from within, turn into a strikingly different kind of society.


Elias Chacour
BLOOD BROTHERS

Father Chacour is a Catholic priest from the Galilee region, and a long-time advocate for peace and reconciliation. This memoir is interesting for many things, but especially for the picture he gives of the founding of Israel from the point of view of one of the displaced persons. It is not pretty. Checking the reviews on amazon.com, I see that some question the veracity of the account. It certainly stands in contrast to the myth that the Jews of the Diaspora came to an empty desert land and made it flourish.

BLOOD BROTHERS is available online.

Struggling groups that had been driven from other villages carried more distressing news as we settled uncomfortably in Gish. The soldiers were moving systematically through the hill country, routing the quiet, unprotected villagers. Many were fleeing in foot for Lebanon or Syria. And there was talk of violence in the south. A certain, unnamable eeriness clung to the air with each fragment of information that came.

We wondered, as we tried to piece our lives together, when the soldiers would return and what they would do if they found us in our neighbors' village. And though Mother and Father repeatedly assured us that we were safe, one thought remained fearfully unspoken: What had happened to the men, women and children of Gish?

I would be the first to learn the answer. A week or more after our arrival, Charles and I were shuffling glumly through the streets together when we found a soccer ball. ...

I reached the ball where it had thumped and settled in a stretch of loose sand. Oddly, the ground seemed to have been churned up. I stooped and picked up the ball, noticing a peculiar odor. An odd shape caught my eye--something like a thick twig poking up through the sand. And the strange color. . .

I bent down and pulled on the thing. It came up stiffly, the sand falling back from a swollen finger, a blue-black hand and arm. The odor gripped my throat....

Later, the shallow graves were uncovered. Buried beneath a thin layer of sand were two dozen bodies. The gunfire that the old man had heard had done its bitter work.



Alan Dershowitz
THE CASE FOR ISRAEL
2003

 


Boas Evron
JEWISH STATE OR ISRAELI NATION?
1995
published in Hebrew as Haheshbon Haleumi, 1988

Recommended by Dan Tamir, I hope to review this more extensively soon. I agree with Dan that it is an important book. It carefully and critically analyzes Jewish and Israeli history, proposes some unusual interpretations, and challenges Israel to adopt a new strategy for living in the world. For now, a few quotes:

— This national formation had two causes, one external and one internal. The external cause was that Palestine was a backward, neglected part of a decaying empire, a country with a sparse, largely backward population lacking political or national consciousness. Had the country been organized as a reasonably developed Arab national state, it is unlikely that it would have permitted the growth of a Jewish national society within it.

— Finally, the Zionist movement, from its inception, viewed itself as an ally of Britain... When the alliance with Britain finally collapsed, the Zionist leadership hastened to ally itself with Britain's successor, the United States. Zionism never veered from the basic tenet that it needed an alliance with a big power with vested interests in the region to back it against the resistance of the local population.

— In the Jewish Diaspora the naive slogan "A country without people for a people without a country" gained currency, but it never struck roots in the yishuv. In Palestine itself it was impossible to ignore the existence of the other nation.

— By being the state of the Jewish people, Israel grants Jews the world over, even those with no interest in Israel, exterritorial rights that it denies to its non-Jewish citizens. It was a foregone conclusion that, even apart from the active discrimination they suffer, these minorities would feel like barely tolerated, unwanted, second-class citizens and that the acute national consciousness of the majority population would necessarily arouse in them an equally intent nationalist reaction...

— The Israelis who settled in the territories were assured all the rights of Israeli citizens, whereas the Arabs there became subject to the full rigors and regulations of an occupation regime.

— Gush (Gush Emunim) thinkers denounce peace, for war is the only way to preserve the unity of the people and prevent its disintegration.

— Normalization means that the Jewish people is entitled to continue living in the Diaspora without feeling inferior to the Israeli nation, while the Israeli nation will stop viewing itself as the future of the Jewish people.




Thomas L. Friedman
FROM BEIRUT TO JERUSALEM
1989

Reporter Thomas Friedman won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon (1982), and a second one in 1988 for his reporting from Jerusalem.

— So it was with many Israelis. Shortly after speaking with Gershuni—in mid-1987—I went to see Israeli filmmaker Amnon Rubinstein and he told me an identical trend was apparent in Israeli cinema. “People don’t want to know and don’t want to hear,” said Rubinstein. “We feel we are stuck in an impossible situation, and nobody has any solutions. It is like we are in a dark tunnel, and when we look around the only light we see is the train that is coming at us.”

— I believe the Sadat initiative succeeded because it was able to overcome the three major obstacles to any Arab-Israeli peace. The first obstacle it overcame was the traditional obsession of both Arabs and Israelis with their "legitimate rights," as opposed to their legitimate interests. As long as any party to the Arab-Israeli conflict is focused entirely on obtaining his historical or God-given "rights," as he sees them, he is not going to be able to make decisions exclusively on the basis of interests. This always creates problems because rights are derived from the past, from gods or ancestors, and are therefore immutable and do not allow for compromise, while interests derive from today, from the ephemeral and from immediate needs and limitations. Therefore they invite compromise.



David Hare
VIA DOLOROSA
1998

Monologue written and sometimes performed by Hare who, in 1998, decided it was time for "the fifty-year-old British playwright to visit the fifty-year-old state."

We walk in the Garden of Remembrance. We begin to feel the sun. Voltaire said you have to choose between countries where you sweat and countries where you think. The confusing thing about Israel is that it's one where you do both. And my mind is racing now. We're all blind. We all see only what we want to. Don't we blank out the rest?



John Haywood
ATLAS OF WORLD HISTORY
1997

My brother recommended this some time ago and I picked up a copy from Barnes&Noble, which publishes it. Excellent reference book for $20. Maps, essays and timelines. Here are the pages pertaining to Israel (an interesting list):

  • The first cities of Mesopotamia, 4300-2334 BC
  • The first civilizations of the Mediterranean, 2000-100 BC
  • The Bible Lands, 100-587 BC
  • The Achemenid empire of Persia, 559-480 BC
  • The conquest of Alexander the Great 336-300 BC
  • The growth if the world religions, 600 BC - AD 600
  • The growth of the Roman empire, 201 BC - AD 117
  • Crisis and recovery of the Roman empire, AD 117-376
  • Justinian and the origins of the Byzantine empire, AD 480-629
  • The great Arab conquests, 632-750
  • The medieval Turkish empires, 1038-1492
  • The Crusades, 1096-1291
  • The economy of medieval Europe, 1000-1500
  • The rise of the Ottoman empire, 1492-1640
  • World War I, 1914-1918
  • The Middle East and north Africa, 1914-1948
  • World War II in Europe, 1939-1942
  • World War II in Europe, 1942-1945
  • Arab-Israeli conflict, 1948-1977
  • The Middle East, 1977-Present


Christina Jones
THE UNTEMPERED WIND - Forty Years in Palestine
1999

 


Naomi Shihab Nye
HABIBI
1997

Interesting "teen girl" novel about an American teen whose Palestinian father moves the family back to Palestine.



Amos Oz
IN THE LAND OF ISRAEL
1983

I didn't know Oz before I picked this book of my daughter-in-law's shelf. Reading it was both illuminating and disturbing. I don't think I had much of a sense of the conflicts and divisions in Israeli society until I read this book, in which Oz interviews a variety of people around the country.



A PERFECT PEACE
1982

Captivating novel set in a kibbutz in the years just prior to the Six-Day War. Couldn't put this one down, both for the interesting characters and the view of kibbutz life.

— Built into this world is an irremediable erotic injustice so great that it makes a mockery of all our attempts to construct a better society.

— If there really is a Higher Being, he mused, whether God or Whatever, I personally beg to differ with Him, or that Being, on several issues, some of them quite fundamental. He could have done everything in a far better way. But what I most dislike about Him, if I may say so, is His cheap, vulgar sense of humor. What He finds amusing is unbearably painful to us. If He gets such pleasure from our suffering, then He and I are in deep disagreement.



Joe Sacco
PALESTINE
1993 - 2001

I first picked up Joe Sacco's journalistic comic books, PALESTINE, in the mid-90s at Left Bank Books in Seattle. I liked the personal and illustrative styles and the viewpoint, which seemed compassionate and objective. The comics told of his experiences in the Occupied Territories during the first intifada, in the winter of 1991-92.

Then in 2000, Fantagraphics Books published SAFE AREA GORAZDE, and later PALESTINE, a reprint of the comics that first appeared serially. Now I have to say that Sacco is one of my favorite working journalists, and I highly recommend both works.

A couple of reviews on amazon.com are interesting:

Louis from Chicago calls it "anti-semetic tripe."

"This book is yet another vehicle for the anti-semetics to cast another stone at the good, peace-loving people of Israel."

Al Mann of Athens, Greece has in interesting review that I recommend reading in its entirety. Here are two excerpts:

"However, you should not then regard this book as the truth. It is subjective as well in its own manner. Its subjectivity lies not so much on the presentation of non-truths, or its certain exaggerations, but rather on its omission of truths which support the other side. For example, when the name "Golda Meier" comes up, the book mentions statements she made about the Palestinians which are ridiculous and cruel: and she did make such statements. However, when the name Nasser comes up, he appears only as someone who "symbolizes Arab nationalism and unity," which is a great injustice to history and to the reader. Moreover, the coverage of the Israeli side of the story is so superficial, that it would be better if it had been omitted altogether."

"Finally, if you have already been exposed to the various sides of the debate, this book may prove a good way to remind yourself that, after all the analysis of whose fault was what, and who is historically to blame, and what the legal issues are and the technicalities, there is a lot of human suffering involved. I, personally, have experienced the human suffering from the Israeli side, and can venture to assert that it can reach similar levels. After all, if you start debating on moral issues by counting body bags, and comparing who suffers more, and who deserves it more, then you have lost the plot."

emphasis mine -pr



Tom Segev
ONE PALESTINE, COMPLETE - Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate
1999
ELVIS IN JERUSALEM - Post-Zionism and the Americanization of Israel
2001

 


Mark Twain
THE INNOCENTS ABROAD
1869

Somebody (perhaps at Shabbot dinner) mentioned this in support of the "Land without people for a people without land" view of Israeli history. The book came up on my trip to Moscow a couple of years ago, so I figured it was time to check out this neglected (by me so far) American classic. Twain's second published book, it describes his travels in Europe and Palestine in the 1860's.

It's long! I'll have to leave the first half of the book for another time. I picked Twain up in Constantinople and now I'm with him on the Sea of Galilee.

— How it wears a man out to have to read up a hundred pages of history every two or three miles — for verily the celebrated localities of Palestine occur that close together. How wearily, how bewilderingly they swarm about your path!

— It is an imposture — this ghetto stuff — but it is one that all men ought to thank the Catholics for. Whoever they ferret out a lost locality made holy by some Scriptural event, they straightway build a massive — almost imperishable — church there, and preserve the memory of that locality for the gratification of future generations. If it had been left to Protestants to do this most worth work, we would not even know where Jerusalem is today, and the man who could go and put his finger on Nazareth would be too wise for this world.



Leon Uris
EXODUS
1959

I reread this classic potboiler about the founding of Israel thinking I'd get the "party line." I guess it's like studying the history of the American West by watching a John Wayne movie. You know it's slanted, and you expect to question the details, but I think much of the narrative line stands up when compared with other sources.



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