11 best books about Palestine and Israel. The history of the conflict, true facts, novels, poetry, contemporary political analyses and historical foundations.
As the resumption of conflicts in the Palestine-Israel area hits the headlines on a seemingly regular basis, we tend to consider war as an endemic phenomenon of those troubled lands.
However, with little effort, we can achieve a better understanding of the roots of the problem, its protagonists as well as its causes and consequences on the arena of international relations.
To do so, we must strengthen our historical basis first and you can get this started with the 5 books we are recommending in the “Historical Foundations” section.
The following section covers Novels and Poetry and the last one presents some analyses on contemporary politics.
This short, rather heterogeneous list of books, paired with your thirst for further knowledge, can be a good start to deepen your awareness on the subject.
Disclosure: Some of our articles contain affiliate links (as an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases).
Palestine: A Four Thousand Year History
by Nur Masalha, 2020
Judging Middle Eastern contemporary politics only in the light of 20th century history can only give a very partial idea of it.
Some contemporary issues are the result of thousand years of events and the purpose of this rather compact-sized book is to present them in their entirety.
Written by Nur Masalha from London’s SOAS, it is particularly detailed in dealing with 18th century and later history.
One Palestine, Complete: Jews and Arabs Under the British Mandate
by Tom Segev, 2001
This book examines the tumultuous and crucial years preceding the creation of the State of Israel.
Very useful in understanding how the British Mandate shaped the whole of contemporary Middle East.
It presents coverage of those important events through the words of its protagonists, be them Arab, Jewish or English.
Its author is Tom Segev, associated with New Historians group which often challenges mainstream versions of Israeli History.
The Story of the Holy Land: A Visual History
by Peter Walker
The so-called Holy Land is packed with thousands years old sites resonating with all Abrahamic Religions.
This illustrated book on the history of this Land is loaded with evocative photos of the actual appearance of many of these places.
Written by Biblical Studies Professor Peter Walker, the book focus is on ancient history but most pictures are contemporary.
Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East
by Michael B. Oren, 2001
Few single events of post WWII history can be deemed as crucial as the 6 days war.
This event, which the book describes from both sides’ perspectives, changed the shape of at least 5 country borders forever, caused the displacement of thousands of people and still provides good lenses to observe bilateral and multilateral relations in the area.
Its author is the historian Michael B. Oren, which matured first-hand experience of the underlying diplomatic struggle that eventually led to war confrontation.
The Jewish State
by Theodor Herzl, 1989 edition
This 1896 Theodor Herzl book is one of the basic works of mainstream Zionism.
It shaped the idea of Israel as a country and still influences many debates in Contemporary Israeli politics.
Its main theme is that Jews would never really merge with the populations of the countries they live with.
This will inevitably lead to anti-semitism and its obvious response is the necessity for Jews all around the World to establish a Jewish Nation.
Novels and Poetry
Hundred Years’ War on Palestine
by Rashid Khalidi, 2021
1917 to 2017 history of Palestine from a Palestinian perspective, with personal memories of the author on the impact of history on his family life.
Khalidi is the great-great-nephew of Yusuf al-Khalidi, the mayor of Jerusalem who warned Theodor Herzl, back in 1899, that establishing a Jewish State in Palestine will be met with fierce resistance from autochthonous people.
However, his family background is just one of the many reasons this book a precious one.
A Map of Absence: An Anthology of Palestinian Writing on the Nakba
by Atef Alshaer, 2019
Nakba is an Arabic word which literally means “catastrophe” and it’s associated with the exodus of Palestinians from their lands.
This event is something every Palestinian in the World deals with and it’s rooted in family memories.
Most of the authors’ works are translated from Arabic, while others were originally written in English.
A Tale of Love and Darkness
by Amos Oz, 2005
This partially autobiographical novel by Amos Oz presents the history of a Jewish Jerusalem family during the early years of Israel.
The protagonist is a boy growing up in an apartment in the poor suburbs, his suicidal mother and his failed academician father.
The tragic circumstances of history acquire the nuances of youthful fantasies and the author describes background crucial events of Israeli History in an unbiased, aloof way.
Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom
by Norman Finkelstein, 2018
Not as famous as Beyond Chutzpah and The Holocaust Industry, this book from Finkelstein concentrates on the situation of permanently war-torn Gaza.
It debunks the methods through which western media and academia lie constantly on the conflict in Palestine.
Through rigorous and well documented reporting, Finkelstein gives a voice to the otherwise voiceless abused people of Gaza, a voice that will come to your mind every time you hear news from that troubled city.
Except for Palestine: The Limits of Progressive Politics
by Marc Lamont Hill and Mitchell Plitnick, 2021
Dissertation about how US progressive politics eventually undermine efforts to achieve and mantain peace in Palestine.
Hill also thinks that most USA people are progressive on many different levels, except when it comes to Palestine, and analyzes the reasons why.
It is said that Marc Lamont Hill was fired from CNN exactly for what he said on the Palestine Conflict.
by Noam Chomsky, Ilan Pappé, 2015
This analysis by Chomsky and Pappé is interesting because apart from assessing the problem of the conflict in Palestine it also proposes a set of well calculated solutions.
It also highlights the way recurring peace talks have little more than ceremonial value and explores the way a one-state solution can be achieved, stating it happens to be the only way Israel can avoid its own destruction.