The best books to understand modern Palestine

Ilan Pappé Author Of Ten Myths About Israel
By Ilan Pappé

Who am I?

Ilan Pappé is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter. He was formerly a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. He is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of PalestineThe Modern Middle EastA History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, and Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict.


I wrote...

Ten Myths About Israel

By Ilan Pappé,

Book cover of Ten Myths About Israel

What is my book about?

In this groundbreaking book, published on the fiftieth anniversary of the Occupation, the outspoken and radical Israeli historian Ilan Pappe examines the most contested ideas concerning the origins and identity of the contemporary state of Israel. The “ten myths” that Pappe explores—repeated endlessly in the media, enforced by the military, accepted without question by the world’s governments—reinforce the regional status quo. He explores the claim that Palestine was an empty land at the time of the Balfour Declaration, as well as the formation of Zionism and its role in the early decades of nation-building. He asks whether the Palestinians voluntarily left their homeland in 1948, and whether June 1967 was a war of “no choice.” Turning to the myths surrounding the failures of the Camp David Accords and the official reasons for the attacks on Gaza, Pappe explains why the two-state solution is no longer viable.

The books I picked & why

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The Question of Palestine

By Edward W. Said,

Book cover of The Question of Palestine

Why this book?

This was the first book to bring in one place the Palestinian narrative after years of denying it and allowing only the Israeli/Zionist narrative to dominate both the public and the scholarly domains in the West. Said's elegant prose contributed made that history accessible to a large audience of readers.

All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948

By Walid Khalidi,

Book cover of All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948

Why this book?

This lexicon of the destroyed Palestinian villages of 1948 illustrated to a wide readership the scope and meaning of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe. In short installments, a whole history that is wiped out is reconstructed as part of the struggle against denial.

Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948

By Nur Masalha,

Book cover of Expulsion of the Palestinians: The Concept of "Transfer" in Zionist Political Thought, 1882-1948

Why this book?

There is no way of understanding the Palestinian catastrophe without understanding the role of Zionism as an ideology and praxis in bringing it about. This book is the first methodic analysis of how Zionist ideology from the very beginning of the Zionist project prepared the ground for the 1948 ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.

In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story

By Ghada Karmi,

Book cover of In Search of Fatima: A Palestinian Story

Why this book?

There is no better way of understanding what it means to be a Palestinian than reading a personal account. When this account is written by one of the veteran activists on behalf of Palestine in the West and a scholar by her own right, the reward is even greater for the reader of this autobiographical tale.  

Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society

By Nadia Abu El-Haj,

Book cover of Facts on the Ground: Archaeological Practice and Territorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society

Why this book?

The Israeli narrative is particularly strong among Christain and Jewish communities due to a tale full of fabrications that stretches back to ancient times. This methodical and erudite research exposes the role of archeology in providing "scientific" scaffolding for that tale. 



5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Palestinians, Palestine, and archaeology?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Palestinians, Palestine, and archaeology.

Palestinians Explore 13 books about Palestinians
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Archaeology Explore 54 books about archaeology

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on U.S. Middle East Policy, and Apeirogon: A Novel if you like this list.