As I prepare to spend three months in the Holy Land, I find books that first came to my attention as a result of my 2008 trip are back on my nightstand – along with new discoveries! For those of you who would like to read more about what one author calls “the situation,” here are a few of my favourites:
|Father Elias Chacour, author of Blood Brothers
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan – More than one person has told me that, if you are only going to read one book on this subject, The Lemon Tree is that book. Readers who come to the subject with different perspectives generally agree that the presentation is “fair and balanced” in the truest sense of that term. Tolan is an NPR reporter who initially interviewed Dalia and Bashir on the air before writing their story, an unflinchingly honest look from both Israeli and Palestinian perspectives.
Blood Brothers by Elias Chacour – Chacour is a Melkite priest, who runs an integrated (Christian/Muslim/Jewish) school near Nazareth. Blood Brothers is the story of his early childhood, his evacuation from his native village in the 1947 “Nakba,” and how his relationships with his Jewish neighbors turned him into a world-renowned peacemaker.
Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid by Jimmy Carter – Carter was subjected to a lot of criticism for using the term “apartheid” in his book title, but the term has become much more widespread since this book was first released (in 2006) and now even many Israelis use this word to describe the conditions attributable to the Wall, particularly in the West Bank. Nobel winner Carter cares deeply about this subject and has done much to further peace in this troubled area.
It’s Easier to Reach Heaven than the End of the Street by Emma Williams – This is my bedtime reading at present. Williams is a British doctor, married to a UN worker, who lived in Jerusalem for several years before, during and after the Second Intifada (2000). She writes about raising her children in the midst of the chaos of those times, and about her interactions with Palestinians and Israelis in their respective struggles with “the situation.” The forward of the book promises that it “will help outside observers to understand better the people of both sides and their struggles.” I’m finding it eminently readable!
The General’s Son by Miko Peled – Peled’s father was a famous Israeli general during the 1967 “Six Days” War. Shortly afterward, he retired from military service to become a professor of Arab literature – and a pacifist. Miko writes about his own journey from service in an “elite” branch of the Israeli army to “peacenik,” balancing his life as a martial arts instructor in San Diego with peace missions to his birthplace.
I’m sharing other titles you may find of interest below – and if you come across something you think I should read, please let me know!
- Fatal Embrace Mark Braverman
- The Israel Lobby by John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt
- Palestinian Memories by Alex Awad
- Overcoming Zionism by Joel Kovel
- The Forgotten Faithful ed. by Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis and Maurine Tobin
- Blessed are the Peacemakers by Audeh and Pat Rantisi
- The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ian Pappe
- Occupied With Nonviolence by Jean Zaru
- Israel-Palestine, a (United Methodist Women) Mission Study for 2007-2008 by Stephen Goldstein
- Washington Reports (http://www.wrmea.org/) – monthly magazine on the news from the Middle-East that you won’t read in the “mainstream” press
- Cornerstone – publication of Ecumenical liberation theology organization Sabeel (www.sabeel.org)