Israel and the Palestinians: Reading Recommendations Sought

Israel and the Palestinians: Reading Recommendations Sought January 18, 2012

I’m hoping to read three books with students who will be participating in the trip to Israel/Palestine in May 2012.

The first I’ve already decided on, and it is A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jesus: Reading the Gospels on the Ground by Bruce Fisk. I’m also using it as a textbook in my historical Jesus class. Its focus on the historical Jesus in connection with actual sites in the Holy Land makes it seem an ideal choice to cover the historical Jesus aspect of the visit.

I would like to have two other books which focus more on the Jewish/Israeli and Arab/Palestinian histories and perspectives on the current situation. On the one hand, there are so many histories of Israel and of the Palestinians that I feel spoiled for choice. On the other hand, there are volumes that look promising but which may somewhere within them have contents that would be unhelpful for mediating reliable information as well as the perspectives of constituents in the region to undergraduate students traveling there for the first time.

Since there are lots of readers of this blog whose reading and travel experience is relevant to this, I thought I’d put the question to you. Do you have any books you can recommend that would be good for this sort of audience, preparing for a short-term study abroad experience, to help them understand the history of the people they will meet on the trip and get the most out of their time there?

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  • robert r. cargill

    I know of some pretty good videos on iTunesU that discuss the history of Jerusalem from the Bronze Age to the modern conflict…

    • Thanks for the suggestion – perhaps I shouldn’t be limiting my thinking to books!

      • robert r. cargill

        your students don’t…
        (nor do we if we’re honest.)

  • Matt

    Blood Brothers

  • Lawrence

    I would second the suggestion of Blood Brothers (I assume Matt means the book by Elias Chacour). Also worth looking at is The Palestine–Israeli Conflict: A Beginner’s Guide by Dan Cohn-Sherbok and Dawoud Sudqi El Alami (Oneworld, 2001 I think).

  • Thanks for these suggestions!

  • Rabbi michael Lerner has some interesting ideas for constructive peace.  Great NPR interview here:

    On the historical piece: 
    Religion and Politics in the Middle East: Identity, Ideology, Institutions, and Attitudes by Robert D. Lee (2009, Paperback).  I received a free examination copy from the publisher and read it, thought it was pretty good, but I did not go with it for class.

    -Steve Purtell

  • John Clark

    I can recommend “Palestinian Memories – The Story of a Palestinian Mother and Her People by Alex Awad.  See

  • mattkelley

    Ilan Pappe’s “A History of Modern Palestine”, Mitri Raheb’s “Bethlehem Besieged”, and Mark Braverman’s “Fatal Embrace” are all good.

    Then there’s the documentary, “Little Town of Bethlehem”