More Israel Reading, April 21
I am continuing my reading on Israel. The list today includes more material from a Palestinian perspective as well as a history that tells Israel's story with sympathy for the nation and her approach to the region.
The first work is from the Palestinian, Rashid Khalidi. It is called Sowing Crisis. It is a study of the influence of the Cold War on the Middle East, as well as what has taken place since the USA became the only superpower exercising influence in the region. It is a bit repetitive, but does give a sense of how Palestinians feel about recent events.
The second book is called Walled: Israeli Society at an Impasse. It is written by an award winning Jewish writer from Le Monde in France, Sylvain Cypel. It is an analysis that claims Israel is operating as a colonial power and has created its dilemma of how to handle the Palestinian issue by ignoring the refugee problem in favor of security. (Anyone familiar with Colonialist studies in the humanities will recognize the approach). It is written with a strong sympathy to the Palestinian cause, although two chapters (out of sixteen) also fault Palestinians for making similar kinds of mistakes by emphasizing their role as victims. This book is disturbing for what it claims and reveals about the blind spots in Israel's history, but it also comes across as less than balanced. It seriously underestimates how traumatic issues of security are for Israel, suggesting they are not as serious or as important as Israel suggests.
The final book is regarded as the most detailed sympathetic history of Israel. It is written by Martin Gilbert, whose account gives a great deal of details to key episodes in the history of the nation. For a description of key events in Israel's history told in lively prose, this full book is a good way in.
I have now noted six books on Israel's current history from a variety of perspectives. A reading of them will reveal the various views and perspectives at work in the region, illustrating why the situation there is so complex to resolve. (My earlier blog from March 31 dealt with three other books). I have highlighted books from a Palestinian perspective and the New Historian perspective of Israeli historians, because the core story from Israel's perspective is well known to most Americans.