The best books on truth and Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation

Paul Mendes-Flohr Author Of A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs
By Paul Mendes-Flohr

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.

The books I picked & why

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Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War

By Shay Hazkani,

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

Why 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.

Dear Palestine: A Social History of the 1948 War

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…


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

By Gil Z. Hochberg,

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

Why 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.

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

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…


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

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

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

Why 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.

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

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…


Silencing the Sea: Secular Rhythms in Palestinian Poetry

By Khaled Furani,

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

Why 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.

Silencing the Sea: Secular Rhythms in Palestinian Poetry

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,…


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

By Shalom Ratzabi,

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

Why 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.

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

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…


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