The best books on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation

Who am I?

My engagement in the topic has two distinct vectors, academic, and personal, or, if you wish, existential. My academic engagement began when Buber's son Raphael (1900-91), who served as the Executor of  the Martin Buber Literary Estate, invited me to assemble and edit his father's writings on the "Arab Question." He explained that of all of his father's publications, his ramified writings promoting the political and human dignity of the Palestinian Arabs spoke most dearly and, as a citizen of the State of Israel, most immediately to him. I accepted Rafael's invitation with alacrity, for like Raphael I'm an Israeli by choice, having emigrated to the country in 1970. 


I wrote...

A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs

By Paul Mendes-Flohr (editor), Martin Buber,

Book cover of A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs

What is my book about?

In this volume of essays, addresses, and op-eds, the philosopher of dialogue, Martin Buber emerges as a public intellectual deeply committed to Jewish-Arab rapprochement. To this end, he relentlessly urged the Zionist movement to disengage its project from the colonial imperialism of the British mandate and to acknowledge the political and human rights of the Palestinian Arabs. Accordingly, Zionism must affirm that Israel’s ancient patrimony is “a land of two peoples,” who are destined not merely to live next to each other but with each other in fraternal solidarity. He thus envisioned the establishment of Palestine as a bi-national state, in which Jews and Arab would share sovereignty based on absolute parity.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

The books I picked & why

Book cover of Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did I love this book?

Examines how the architects of the conflict worked to influence and indoctrinate their respective ideologies in the ordinary soldiers by analyzing the battle orders, pamphlets, army journals, and recordings of radio broadcasts in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. Through two overarching narratives – the official and unofficial, the propaganda and personal letters, Dear Palestine reveals the fissures between ‘sanctioned nationalism’ and individual experience and identity. This book reminds one that everyday individual’s fears, bravery, hubris, base cruelty, lies, and fantasies are as important in history as the preoccupations of the elites.

By Shay Hazkani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dear Palestine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1948, a war broke out that would result in Israeli independence and the erasure of Arab Palestine. Over twenty months, thousands of Jews and Arabs came from all over the world to join those already on the ground to fight in the ranks of the Israel Defense Forces and the Arab Liberation Army. With this book, the young men and women who made up these armies come to life through their letters home, writing about everything from daily life to nationalism, colonialism, race, and the character of their enemies. Shay Hazkani offers a new history of the 1948 War…


Book cover of In Spite of Partition: Jews, Arabs, and the Limits of Separatist Imagination

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did I love this book?

Partition—the idea of separating Jews and Arabs along ethnic or national linesis a legacy at least as old as the Zionist-Palestinian conflict. Challenging the widespread "separatist imagination" behind partition, Gil Hochberg demonstrates the ways in which works of contemporary Jewish and Arab literature reject simple notions of separatism and instead display complex configurations of identity that emphasize the presence of alterity within the selfthe Jew within the Arab, and the Arab within the Jew. In Spite of Partition examines Hebrew, Arabic, and French works that are largely unknown to English readers to reveal how, far from being independent, the signifiers "Jew" and "Arab" are inseparable.

By Gil Z. Hochberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked In Spite of Partition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Partition--the idea of separating Jews and Arabs along ethnic or national lines--is a legacy at least as old as the Zionist-Palestinian conflict. Challenging the widespread "separatist imagination" behind partition, Gil Hochberg demonstrates the ways in which works of contemporary Jewish and Arab literature reject simple notions of separatism and instead display complex configurations of identity that emphasize the presence of alterity within the self--the Jew within the Arab, and the Arab within the Jew. In Spite of Partition examines Hebrew, Arabic, and French works that are largely unknown to English readers to reveal how, far from being independent, the signifiers…


Book cover of The Holocaust and the Nakba: A New Grammar of Trauma and History

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did I love this book?

In this groundbreaking book, leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals examine how and why the Holocaust and the Nakba are interlinked without blurring fundamental differences between them. While these two foundational tragedies are often discussed separately and in abstraction from the constitutive historical global contexts of nationalism and colonialism, The Holocaust and the Nakba explores the historical, political, and cultural intersections between them. The majority of the contributors argue that these intersections are embedded in cultural imaginations, colonial and asymmetrical power relations, realities, and structures. Focusing on them paves the way for a new political, historical, and moral grammar that enables a joint Arab-Jewish dwelling and supports historical reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.

This book does not seek to draw a parallel or comparison between the Holocaust and Nakba or to merely inaugurate a “dialogue” between them. Instead, it searches for a new historical and political grammar for relating and narrating their complicated intersections. The book features prominent international contributors, including a foreword by Lebanese novelist Elias Khoury on the centrality of the Holocaust and Nakba in the essential struggle of humanity against racism, and an afterword by literary scholar Jacqueline Rose on the challenges and contributions of the linkage between the Holocaust and Nakba for power to shift and a world of justice and equality to be created between the two peoples. The Holocaust and the Nakba is the first extended and collective scholarly treatment in English of these two constitutive traumas together.

By Bashir Bashir (editor), Amos Goldberg (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Holocaust and the Nakba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking book, leading Arab and Jewish intellectuals examine how and why the Holocaust and the Nakba are interlinked without blurring fundamental differences between them. While these two foundational tragedies are often discussed separately and in abstraction from the constitutive historical global contexts of nationalism and colonialism, The Holocaust and the Nakba explores the historical, political, and cultural intersections between them. The majority of the contributors argue that these intersections are embedded in cultural imaginations, colonial and asymmetrical power relations, realities, and structures. Focusing on them paves the way for a new political, historical, and moral grammar that enables…


Book cover of Silencing the Sea: Secular Rhythms in Palestinian Poetry

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did I love this book?

Silencing the Sea follows Palestinian poets' debates about their craft as they traverse multiple and competing realities of secularism and religion, expulsion and occupation, art, politics, immortality, death, fame, and obscurity. Khaled Furani eloquently leads his reader along ancient roads and across Israeli military checkpoints to join the poets' worlds and engage with the rhythms of their lifelong journeys in Islamic and Arabic history, language, and verse. This excursion offers newfound understandings of how today's secular age goes far beyond doctrine, to inhabit our very senses, imbuing all that we see, hear, feel, and utter.

Poetry, the traditional repository of Arab history, has become the preeminent medium of Palestinian memory in exile. In probing poets' writings, this work investigates how struggles over poetic form can host larger struggles over authority, knowledge, language, and freedom. It reveals a very intimate and venerated world, entwining art, intellect, and politics, narrating previously untold stories of a highly stereotyped people.

By Khaled Furani,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Silencing the Sea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Silencing the Sea follows Palestinian poets' debates about their craft as they traverse multiple and competing realities of secularism and religion, expulsion and occupation, art, politics, immortality, death, fame, and obscurity. Khaled Furani takes his reader down ancient roads and across military checkpoints to join the poets' worlds and engage with the rhythms of their lifelong journeys in Islamic and Arabic history, language, and verse. This excursion offers newfound understandings of how today's secular age goes far beyond doctrine, to inhabit our very senses, imbuing all that we see, hear, feel, and say.

Poetry, the traditional repository of Arab history,…


Book cover of Between Zionism and Judaism: The Radical Circle in Brith Shalom 1925-1933

Paul Mendes-Flohr Why did I love this book?

The tension between nationalism and humanism, on the one hand, and between Zionism and Judaism, on the other, is vividly illustrated by this work. This is done through a comprehensive description of a variety of sources and ideas that inspired the Brith Shalom Society's radical circle in early twentieth-century Palestine, which advocated a bi-national state, in which Jews and Arabs would share on the basis of absolute parity.

By Shalom Ratzabi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Between Zionism and Judaism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work provides a vivid picture of the dichotomy between the ideology preached by the radical circle of the Brith Shalom Society and the nationalism of early twentieth-century Palestine. Many considered the Brith Shalom Society representative of the spiritual trend of Zionism.
This important book examines the aspirations and cultural sources of these men from Central Europe who met in Palestine as members of the Brith Shalom Society during the first half of the twentieth century, in the context of the political reality of a pre-independent Palestine and the new state of Israel.
The fact that this circle included well-known…


You might also like...

Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

By Alan Pearce, Beverley Pearce,

Book cover of Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

Alan Pearce Author Of Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

New book alert!

Who am I?

As a journalist, I'm driven to find stories that have not been covered before and to make clear the incomprehensible. I like people, and I like asking questions. I've covered wars and disasters, and on any given day, I could expect to see people at their very worst and at their very best. With my book about comas, I've met some of the finest people of my career, doctors, nurses, and other clinicians who are fighting the system, and coma survivors who are simply fighting to get through each and every day. This is the story I am now driven to tell.

Alan's book list on consciousness that demonstrates there is more to life than we know

What is my book about?

What happens when a person is placed into a medically-induced coma?

The brain might be flatlining, but the mind is far from inactive: experiencing alternate lives rich in every detail that spans decades, visiting realms of stunning and majestic beauty, or plummeting to the very depths of Hell while defying all medical and scientific understanding.

Everything you think you know about coma is wrong. Doctors call it 'sleeping' when in reality, many are trapped on a hamster wheel of brain-damaging, nightmarish events that scar those that survive for life. Others are left to question whether they touched levels of existence previously confined to fantasy or whether they teetered on the brink of this life and the next. Coma is not what you think.

Coma and Near-Death Experience: The Beautiful, Disturbing, and Dangerous World of the Unconscious

By Alan Pearce, Beverley Pearce,

What is this book about?

Explores the extraordinary states of expanded consciousness that arise during comas, both positive and negative

Every day around the world, thousands of people are placed in medically-induced comas. For some coma survivors, the experience is an utter blank. Others lay paralyzed, aware of everything around them but unable to move, speak, or even blink. Many experience alternate lives spanning decades, lives they grieve once awakened. Some encounter ultra-vivid nightmares, while others undergo a deep, spiritual oneness with the Universe or say they have glimpsed the Afterlife.

Examining the beautiful and disturbing experiences of those who have survived comas, Alan and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Palestine, letters, and Zionism?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Palestine, letters, and Zionism.

Palestine Explore 53 books about Palestine
Letters Explore 35 books about letters
Zionism Explore 15 books about Zionism